June 21, 2006
During the last election cycle, conservative Republicans implemented a strategy to motivate their base to vote on election day: find the social issue that the base is currently hot about and make the entire election turn on that particular issue. In 2004 the hot issue was gay marriage and Republicans were boosted by people turning out to vote on the many gay marriage initiatives that had been placed on state ballots. Gay marriage doesn’t carry the same weight in 2006 as it did in 2004–Senate Republicans know this firsthand after their introduction of a constitutional gay marriage ban earlier this month failed to excite conservatives. In 2006 the hot social issue is immigration. House Republicans, pointing to the success of Brian Bilbray in California and John Jacob in Utah (see previous entry), are convinced that immigration is the issue that is going to energize their base and make them successful in the November elections. With yesterday’s announcement by Republican House Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) that the House will conduct hearings on the Senate’s immigration bill, it is clear that the House intends to ride the immigration issue through the election season. Moreover, Hastert’s plan for the hearings–held in Washington D.C. in July and then traveling around the country in August in order to “listen to the American people”–is an obvious political ploy to parade House Republicans’ position on immigration around the country in an attempt to further enflame constituent passions. Simply put, House Republicans have hijacked serious immigration reform and turned it into their latest vehicle for election night success.