Are we missing the big picture in the debate over immigration reform? I'm not just talking about the misguided politicians who tried to shove a ridiculous amnesty bill down our throats. Have we the people allowed what really happened to go over our heads?
This recently defeated attempt to allow millions of illegal aliens to get around the law is not the first of its kind. The conservative hero Ronald Reagan allowed this on a smaller scale in 1986. What was different back then?
For one thing, the political climate was much different. We were not as concerned then as we are now. We allowed amnesty, and it caused the problem of illegal immigration to get much worse. Millions of people have snuck across the border since then because they saw that we did little to prevent it and they realized that we actually rewarded the behavior. Now we are worried about terrorists sneaking across the border alongside the people who are just looking for a better life. We have also seen an increase in crime and gang membership due to lack of enforcement. The list goes on.
Despite these important issues, I saw something else in this debate that really hasn't happened before. It wasn't just the facts I listed above that caused so many to speak up, to write their elected representatives, to place so many phone calls that it actually crashed the Senate switchboard and had Senators' aides filtering faxes and emails.
These things all happened not just because the political climate has changed, they happened because of our new ability to protest from the home and office.
Let me backtrack a little. We have been watching left wing protests on the television for decades. There were televised riots during the Vietnam War. Recently we have seen many protests over the Iraq War and of course we remember the millions of people all over the country protesting in support of the amnesty bill.
What we don't see is protests from right wing groups, at least not in large numbers. When have we ever seen the Million Man March for Tax Reform? When was the last protest to reform entitlement programs? Even now we have a small group of Iraq War vets who are trying to talk to the leaders of the Democratic Party in Washington, but they get little media and of course Harry Reid won't acknowledge the fact that they exist. Granted, this has some to do with the fact that the media pays no attention to right wing causes. But it is also due to few supporters making an effort to show up.
The left has always been more vocal. They have protests, they have celebrities, and they have film makers. The right doesn't do these things, probably because we are busy making sure the American economy doesn't shut down. We have jobs, we run businesses, and we raise our families, crazy things such as that.
What was different about the immigration issue was our ability to come together as one voice without having to interrupt our lives. Online resources such as NumbersUSA and Grassfire gave us several things. They gave us the information we needed to make informed decisions. They gave us the scoop on terrorists who were sneaking across the border. Michelle Malkin gave us news regarding crimes committed by people who were in this country illegally. Other resources like John Hawkins of Right Wing News gave us insider information of tactics being used by the pro-amnesty senators. The Heritage Foundation told us what amnesty would cost the tax-payer. NBER told us that illegal immigration was destroying the African-American community by giving their jobs to illegals who would work for less pay.
They also gave us the ability to communicate ideas on how to defeat the amnesty bill. They created online petitions, emails, and faxes to send to Congress. They used their status to gain the meetings with people like Tom Tancredo.
When these internet resources were joined by Conservative Talk Radio, there was hell to pay in the Senate. The likes of Rush and Hannity were giving their listeners the same tools that we were being given on the internet. This combination is what caused the switchboard to crash that day. This is what caused Senators to realize that their jobs were on the line. This is what killed the amnesty bill.
Believe it or not, Congress hasn't yet figured out what hit them. They have put the blame squarely on the shoulders of talk radio and have completely discounted the role played by the combined resources shared on the internet. To be honest, I'm glad they haven't figured it out yet because this helps us the next time they try to bring this bill back, whenever that may be.
But I question whether or not Conservatives citizens are actually aware of what happened. Do we see the power that we now have? Do we see that we now have the ability to take our country back using these same resources towards other issues? Why don't we join together in the same manner for tax reform? Why isn't there a movement like this to stop pork and earmarks? Why aren't we doing the same for tort reform?
The reality is that these movements do exist, they simply don't have the same force behind them yet. We are still fighting for border security of course, the amnesty fight was one battle in a bigger war. We have to ensure that this is taken care of because it seems that Congress got over amnesty and forgot about the fence. Did we come together to prevent a mistake, but now we can't get the same emphasis behind correcting a past issue? Have we learned that we have the ability to make real change in Washington? Was the battle to defeat amnesty our one big push, and now we go back to our routines?
I hope and pray that we have learned what we can do. It is not enough for Congress to be put into a place of fear over one issue. We must learn from this and use it to push them into a place of fear on every other issue that they are screwing up on a daily basis.
We have to get our country back. Someone get some more online faxes ready please.