Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Opening On Immigration

It's all the rage now, pundits hedging their bets by arguing that Donald Trump may defeat Hillary Clinton in November. Sean Trende is no exception, maintaining that Democratic presidential candidates from 1992 through 2012 effectively "depicted" their opponents "as agents of the rich, of social conservatives, and of reckless foreign policy adventurists."  He contends

It’s become obvious that, at least for now, Clinton is running the same sort of campaign against Trump. It isn’t clear, however, how well it works against someone with such a strong nouveau riche affect (at best).  Trump isn’t campaigning (anymore) on massive tax cuts for the rich.  He’s against free trade, and is arguably more of a dove on foreign policy than Clinton.  And the two obvious themes against Trump -- that he doesn’t know what he’s doing/is erratic/is inconsistent and that he is actually a right-wing ideologue – are actually in tension with each other.  Because Trumpism is such an odd mishmash of beliefs, it’s hard to run the generic Democratic campaign against him.

They are in tension with each other, although it's unclear that the entire campaign apparatus writ large- candidate, surrogates, elected officials, SuperPacs- must follow one consistent, unified script.Still, there does need to be a theme to the campaign and that it probably must be either that Trump is erratic or that he's a right-wing extremist.

As Donald Trump would say: believe me.

I believe the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is, above all, a charlatan, with every utterance eithe planned or whatever pops into his mind. What he believes about anything is up for debate, although his Supreme Court and economic notions, garnered from failed right-wing policy gurus, ought to convince all liberals/progressives or moderates into voting for the Democratic alternative.

Accusing John Kerry of being a flip-flopper worked for Republicans but although Trump has raised policy reversals to an art form, attacking the Republican for changing his views, whether from what he stated decades earlier or minutes earlier, seems to have had little or no impact. Many Republicans and Independents are unconvinced or unconcerned that he is deceptive, preferring to view him as flexible. While it's helpful to be able to fake sincerity, Trump can fake authenticity like no one can.

So despite my take on the candidate, emphasizing that he is "a fake, a phony, and a fraud" is unlikely to work.  Rather, he should be attacked as an extremist.  And even though I disagree with the standard Democratic take on the issue, illegal immigration would yield perhaps the finest ad the Clinton camp could come up with.

But don't take it from me. Take it from Sid Myers, who was an art director at Doyle Dane Bernbach, which was the advertising campaign for the LBJ election effort in 1964. He has asserted in an interview for  Politico

If you visually showed 11 million Mexicans being deported from this country in trucks, I think that would be unbelievable. Just show how ridiculous Trump’s statement is. Rather than just say it, show it visually. It's much more impactful.

Marks, he of the "impactful," and "unbelievable" to describe what he recognizes would be thoroughly and devastatingly believable, was an advertising guy, not an English teacher. However, he is right,and maybe more than even he realizes.

It would have much greater impact because it is visual. Additionally, recall that when Mitt Romney in 2012 raised the specter of "self-deportation," he was figuratively hooted off the stage. And that was for suggesting that illegal immigrants act voluntarily and at their own pace.

Imagine instead an ad which showed immigrants being forcibly removed from the country.  Hard-working men, women and children (perhaps a two or three with an American flag). When most anti-illegal immigration Americans think of immigrants, they're thinking men, industrious or not. Depict women and, especially, children, and Republicans will be alarmed. Combine it (with permission) with the proper soundtrack, such as one used by the Sanders campaign (below), and they will be terrified.

Make no mistake about it: while most Americans would like illegal immigrants to wake up one day and find themselves in Mexico, they are skittish about removal at the point of a gun. When they see images of it occurring, with cute children and frail women among the victims, their attitude will turn around pronto.

So in the manner of the great anti-communist Nixon going to China, I support workplace raids but acknowledge an ad such as recommended by Sid Myers would be a game-changer.  Moreover, when asked if he would work for the Clinton campaign or an anti-Trump PAC,  he replied "I've got a group all set up! I've got all the senior creative people- a whole group ready for that.... It's like an old fire horse hearing the bell go off."

Republican politicians and ad executives win presidential elections by scaring people. If this ad were run, they themselves would be scared, and would have every reason to be.

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