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Is “Conservatism” Enough? Russell Pearce’s Defeat And The Future Of “The Movement”
Conservatives, both Establishment and grassroots, lose because they don’t want to win.
Modern American Conservatism is unique among political movements in that it flinches from actively seeking victory. Partially this is because of the philosophical underpinnings of Movement conservatism—one is hard pressed to visualize an effective mass movement growing out of a battle cry of “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton.” But more than that, there is a deeper problem: American conservatism systematically undercuts its most stalwart champions, even as it follows hesitantly in their wake.
The most obvious example: Pat Buchanan, conservatism’s great Lost Leader, who was systematically ostracized from the movement he helped to build. Rather than continuing (and completing) the Reagan Revolution in 1992 and 1996, Establishment conservatives actively chose respectable defeat over Politically Incorrect victory—and so today find themselves in a political climate where it is increasingly difficult for Republicans to even compete.
Now we see Russell Pearce, president of the Arizona State Senate and champion of SB 1070, suffering a crushing defeat in Tuesday’s recall election—even as his efforts have launched a nationwide movement, inspiring similar laws in South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, just for starters.
Amazingly, this defeat took place even as immigration has moved closer to the conservative mainstream. “We Stand With Arizona” has become a common motto at conservative conferences and rallies. Arizona’s struggling, very moderate governor Jan Brewer used the immigration issue to cruise to re-election (shades of California’s Proposition 187 and Governor Pete Wilson), has authored a book and become a popular figure on the conservative speakers’ circuit. She has even been spoken of as a future vice-presidential nominee.
Republican candidates supporting patriotic immigration restriction have been rolling through state through state, even last night with victories in Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi, as the immigration issue has solidified the GOP’s stranglehold on the New Solid South. [2011 Election Results Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward, By William L. Houston, November 8, 2008 ]
Even Herman Cain’s recent surge, before his recent sexual harassment accusations, owed something to his militant talk about electric fences on the border—the resulting Main Stream Media hysteria only rallied conservatives to his cause.
And, just as Pat Buchanan in defeat won a larger victory by ensuring that all Republican presidential candidates of the future would have to pledge fealty to the pro life cause, so Pearce has been defeated just as the Republican Party has perforce become the party of patriotic immigration reform.
But how could a long-time legislator have been defeated in a conservative district, despite the support of Arizona leaders like Governor Brewer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and most of the Republicans in the state legislature?
The answer: the alliance of the unholy trifecta that rules Arizona and the United States:—the Main Stream Media, the activist Left…and corporate Republicans, known to VDARE.com as the “Slave Power”. This last faction had already sabotaged Arizona patriots’ efforts to capitalize on their SB 1070 victory late last winter.
The recall effort was launched by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona. The co-founder of this group: Randy Parraz, the last-place finisher in the 2010 Democratic primary for Senate.
Parraz is another light-skinned professional Hispanic, a graduate of Berkeley and Harvard who derives his lucrative livelihood from declaring he is one with the Mestizo masses, a former leader of the state AFL-CIO (showing how far the organization has fallen from the glory days of Samuel Gompers). In 2007, Parraz made a cool $126,518 as leader of the Laborers International Union of North America. He also founded the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, an organization dedicated to fighting for non-citizens who are angry at the pro-enforcement efforts of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Needless to say, Parraz is also a blogger for that ultimate forum of Establishment opinion, the Huffington Post.
After a lifetime spewing the rage of a privileged class, it’s natural that Parraz’s next target was Pearce, a champion of the actually-existing American nation. With plenty of cheerleading by both Main Stream Media and the smaller, “independent” publications that nevertheless echo conventional opinion, the recall effort succeeded in acquiring the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot.
But the hard Left had a problem: it could not succeed in Pearce’s conservative district—or most areas of Arizona, home of American patriot Joe Arpaio. After all, in the despairing words of Heidi Beirich about the Arpaio phenomenon, “It’s just completely unacceptable… it’s inexplicable, actually.” It was therefore necessary to put on a different face to split Republican and conservative support for Pearce.
Enter a group called “Somos Republicanos” (We Are Republicans). Like most Republican “outreach” groups, the group spends most of its time attacking the Republican Party, promoting Open Borders, and proving by its sheer existence that Pearce’s efforts to defend an American nation may be a moot point. They may be “Republicanos,” pero no son Americanos.
Somos Republicanos was founded by DeeDee Garcia Blasé, now its past president who spends her days writing columns for the Huffington Post about the need to strengthen “Latino and Jewish relationships” in order to secure in state tuition for illegals, condemning Senator Marco Rubio for not being like Senator Mel Martinez, and calling on Latinos not to vote for the GOP until amnesty is passed.
This putatitive Republican group mounted its own petition drive to support the recall—revealing that this much-vaunted Republican “outreach” actually consists of outreach to militant leftists in order to defeat Republicans.
Reacting to Pearce’s defeat, the Tucson Citizen gave the group credit. Blasé called Pearce an “evil dictator.” Fellow “Republican” Ruben Navarrette, another professional Hispanic who wouldn’t know how to feed himself if it weren’t for Affirmative Action, noted triumphantly that “Evil has left the building!”
(I pause here to note that this is being called a victory for “civility”.)
Incidentally, Blasé has moved on from Somos Republicanos to start the National Tequila Party, a nonpartisan group focusing on increasing Latino voter participation. If this makes you question her Republican bona fides and conservatism, you are probably a racist.
Another group leading the charge against Pearce: the Public Campaign Action Fund, which spent over $47,000 in a direct mailing accusing him of corruption. It was the largest independent expenditure of the campaign.
The Public Campaign Action Fund is ostensibly dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics (which would probably help immigration patriots in the long run). But in terms of what the group actually does, the PCAF is clearly a front funded by MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association and other left wing stalwarts to attack conservative figures.
Thus, remarkably, the Number One issue for this group allegedly dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics was that Pearce accepted tickets offered by the “Fiesta Bowl”—along with literally dozens of other legislators of both parties. The transaction was entirely legal as the trip was offered to the entire legislature.
Still, even this attack probably would not have been enough. After all, as every Republican strategist explicitly denies when being interviewed and implicitly confirms when it is time for redistricting, the GOP base consists of the white churchgoers who actually have something to gain from limited government—as opposed to the multicultural Leviathan that distributes taxpayer dollars to “diverse” clients. To defeat Pearce, what is needed was what Lenin would call a “useful idiot.” The ultimate key to Pearce’s defeat: finding a seemingly nice white family guy who could tell the conservative base that of course everyone wants a solution to illegal immigration,—but one that won’t require the messiness of confronting leftists or being called “racist.”
Enter Pearce’s opponent, Jerry Lewis (his real name). The head of a Mormon congregation, he ran his campaign on two essential themes:
- First, he is a Mormon bishop.
Pearce is a Mormon as well, but in a substantially Mormon district Lewis stressed his religious identity as a reason to vote for him. In so doing, he exploited the willingness of the Left to suddenly discover and deeply respect religion when it comes to illegal immigration, while holding it irrelevant or offensive when it comes to gay marriage, abortion, or a host of other issues.
Additionally, the Church of Latter Day Saints, much like the Catholic Church and even some evangelicals, seems to be compensating for its Political Incorrectness on homosexualityand abortion by doubling down on mass illegal immigration as a divine commandment.
- Second, Arizona’s “image” was suffering because of Pearce’s efforts to stop illegal immigration.
Lewis did not seem bothered by the leftist background of allies like Parraz, but he was deeply concerned that the New York Times didn’t seem to like conservatives. Lewis also spoke of the need to involve the federal government in working for a solution to Arizona’s immigration problem—ignoring the fact that that the government is already working for a solution, by actively hampering any efforts at enforcement, countenancing overt law breaking by entire states, arresting Border Patrol agents who foolishly try to do their job instead of engaging in corruption for profit, arming Mexican drug cartels, and generally doing everything it can to elect a new people.
And that is exactly what Establishment Republicans want. It’s simply untrue that Pearce was exclusively focused on immigration. He is a fiscal conservative who oversaw the largest budget cut in Arizona’s history. He has been a champion of gun rights, including sponsoring SB1108, the “constitutional carry” bill that has made Arizona a model for Second Amendment activists. He is fiercely pro-life.
But the tragedy of immigration patriotism is that while the Left recognizes its existential importance, conservatives do not. Therefore, you can read unironic posts by the likes of “Texas GOP Vote” about Pearce’s unsuitability for the Republican Party because he is associated with “environmentalists” and people who are “pro-abortion”—as if Pearce were running to the left of Jon Huntsman.
The fundamental problem: talking about immigration, even when taking positions that are popular in the polls, arouses intense opposition from professional ethnic activists. And, unfortunately, the irresistible temptation, for both Establishment and grassroots conservatives, is to sound Retreat.
Thus, immediately after SB 1070 was passed, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce expressed its concern and changed its position from noninvolvement to siding with the left because of worries about its “image”.
The Mesa Chamber of Commerce dropped its support of Pearce despite his pro-business record and the active involvement of far left unions in trying to remove him.
Lewis received donations from the head of Farnsworth Development, hotel owners, and grocery store magnates—exactly the kind of big business donors that want low taxes but also want “cheap labor” and ever-growing populations with any externalities dumped on the taxpayer-supported welfare state.
At a time when even the milquetoast Americans for Prosperity Conference is being surrounded by screaming mobs and the Open Borders Chamber of Commerce is occasionally #occupied by demonstrators calling for the head of Chamber President Thomas Donohue, Lenin’s characterization of capitalists as short-sighted rope-sellers to their hangmen has never been more relevant.
It’s perhaps typical that Rich Crandall, the one Republican State senator who opposed Pearce, suggested he might not go back into politics because he could make more money by turning his back on the state.
Pearce still may have survived all of this if there was not an entry by Olivia Cortes, a Hispanic candidate immediately characterized by the MSM as a “sham” designed to draw votes away from Lewis. Cortes herself denied being a phony candidate, but it is clear that some of Pearce’s supporters propped up her candidacy. After weeks of media harassment, she dropped out. Lewis and his leftist backers accused Pearce of “dirty tactics.” Of course, this reveals that everyone knew Hispanics would vote for Cortes purely because she was a Latina. It also shows that Lewis’s entire campaign was a sham, as Lewis was equally designed to draw conservatives away from Pearce by giving them a “noncontroversial” alternative. But, once again, conservatives fell for it.
Worst of all, the conservative movement doesn’t even notice there is a problem. Even as every progressive site trumpets the victory in Arizona, Establishment conservatives are silent—just as they did notably little to support Pearce during the campaign. National Review has not so much as mentioned the anti-Pearce campaign as of this writing, although expending much ink and pixels over public sector unions and spending cuts.
The conservative willingness to fall for it every single time is now an established characteristic. In Arizona, when presented with a choice between JD Hayworth and John McCain at the height of the Tea Party furor, Republicans voters went with McCain. In Colorado, the Republican Party refused to support Tom Tancredo rather than win, so a candidate who seemingly got his name from Charles Dickens somehow became Governor Hickenlooper.
And after four years of rhetoric about how we “can’t get fooled again”, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination are Mitt Romney, a black guy who endorsed Romney last time but will protect us all against charges of racism, and, possibly—God help us—Newt Gingrich.
Erick Erickson of RedState.com has written a passionate denunciation of this kind of Establishment mindset. But he misses the point. Conservatives, both Establishment and apparently grassroots, lack the courage to stand by their champions—which means that the next multimillionaire that comes along can cruise to the nomination. Those who do emerge from the Establishment conservative movement’s field team have been carefully vetted to remove originality, daring, or any hint of Political Incorrect thought.
The result: the current remarkably weak and unintelligent bench—for a movement that ostensibly represents an ever-growing plurality of the American population. These candidates are simply not ready for prime time.
Erickson may see the problem, but like all conservatives in confronting all problems, he is not comfortable talking about the solution: a movement that forthrightly rejects the Media’s narratives about racism, civil rights, or what constitutes realistic policy solutions.
The never-ending quest for “respectability”, to be granted by people who hate them, has given the conservatives forty years of failure. And they show no awareness that they are facing forty years more.
Immigration is at the heart of the dilemma. For conservatives, it is one issue among many, comparable in importance to the fighting Palestinians at the UN, free trade for Korea, and making sure there are no restrictions on lead paint. But for the Left, and for the country, immigration is the critical issue—because of its cascading impacts on voting, as well as on crime, national security, health care, the environment, income, wages, unemployment and everything else. And fundamentally, immigration policy determines whether the country will continue to exist in any meaningful sense.
Even if the conservative Establishment is comfortable this concept in the abstract, in books like Mark Steyn’s After America, and while the base is lethally hostile to openly pro-amnesty candidates, conservatives as a whole have failed to put immigration at the center of their policy vision. The result: immigration, now the defining issue for the Left, is fatally neglected by the Right. For the likes of National Review, the Weekly Standard, or the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Page, a candidate’s stance on the corporate tax rate is far more important.
Still, I believe the Left may be celebrating prematurely. The victory in Arizona may be too little, too late. The genie is out of the bottle. States such as Mississippi and Pennsylvania are already looking at immigration measures.
More to the point, Pearce may yet reclaim his position next year, after a short vacation, by forcing out his opponent in a straight Republican primary and then steamrolling the liberal in the next election. Immigration is still a winning issue for Republicans in a straightforward conservative vs. liberal battle.
Bottom line: this country has a one and a half party system on critical issues like immigration. The Left can cruise to victory if well-meaning conservatives and patriots allow themselves to be used as stooges.
Americans needs to become more cynical about the people who claim to represent them. Patriotic immigration reform has to be as non-negotiable as lower taxes and gun rights.
Are conservatives a.k.a. Americans capable of such a winning transformation? Or will they even want to win—if it means having to fight?