Consider yourselves warned. Should conservative and Republicans hold fast to strong stands on illegal immigration in the coming election year, and if they ultimately do well at the polls because of it, look for the Boston Globe to lament the tactic as a cynical "wedge issue," rather than a reaction to valid concerns from the electorate.
The Boston Globe editorial board may be sharpening their knives for the coming election season with a November 25 editorial, "A wedge issue for our times." The Globe laments that immigration is proving a "radioactive" issue and in one passage made an odd characterization of how Democratic New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's backpedaling on illegal immigrant drivers licenses "rescued" Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) from twisting in the wind over her contorted answer on the topic of licenses for illegals.
Writing a reaction yesterday afternoon, Jay Tea at Wizbang lashed out at the Globe:
The issue is not "immigration," or even "immigrants." It's ILLEGAL aliens -- or, if you prefer the politically correct term, "undocumented immigrants."
If you keep that in mind, then the Globe's story is fairly accurate. There are strong interests on both sides that come down on opposite sides of the illegal alien issue. And there arguments on both sides, as well.
I come down on the side of the unions and the social conservatives, against the bleeding-hearts and big business. To me, "illegal" pretty much sums it up.
These people come here seeking the blessings of America, and begin by spitting on our laws and violating our sovereignty. Further, they spit in the faces of those immigrants who do go through the entire convoluted process, who get in line and wait, who obey the laws. To the Globe, there is no difference between the two.
What's more, the Globe's definition of immigration reform as a wedge issue is disingenuous. Wedge issues typically are highly divisive and often break down on partisan lines. They are deployed to gin up your base vote.
Yet illegal immigration is a potent issue for some Democrats and many independents, according to recent polling. In other words, it's not purely a "right-wing" or conservative concern.
From PoliPundit earlier this month (emphasis mine):
Some extremely interesting numbers from a Democrat poll:
notice some surprising numbers from a poll conducted by Democracy Corps and Democratic pollsters/strategists Stan Greenberg, Al Quinlan, and James Carville:Illegal immigration could be the winning issue for Fred Thompson and the GOP. Especially given Hillary’s record of anti-American votes on the issue.
They asked independents their top two reasons why America is on the wrong track from a list of seven.
“Bogged down and spending billions in Iraq” came in next to last at 23 percent; “Government failed on Katrina” came in last at 13 percent.
The tops for independents? “Borders left unprotected,” way ahead at 40 percent.
In fact, illegal immigration might be the only issue that can save the GOP in 2008.