“Force the other team to play to our style. Do not play to their style.” That is the advice our football coaches gave us when I was playing high school football many years ago. The gist of that point was that if we played how we were coached we would be forcing the other team to play outside of their comfort level. They needed to adjust to us, not we adjust to them.
I bring up this point because of the ongoing immigration debate. This week, the immigration debate focused on the issue of birthright citizenship. Birthright citizenship is the granting of citizenship based on your country of birth. In other words, if you are born in the United States you are an American, regardless of your parents’ immigration status. The intellectual debate has been interesting. But I wonder if conservatives have realized that they are conceding to liberalism’s framework in the context of their rhetoric? In other words, we maybe conservative, but we argue like liberals.
Modern day liberalism uses an “us vs. them” framework to address their issues. For instance, take black lives matter. The black lives matter movement was formed as a result of various black men who were killed in the midst of police confrontation throughout the country. A couple of months ago, Democrat presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was booed in a speech for saying that all lives matter instead of saying that black lives matter. In fact, if you were to say or tweet, “#all lives matter”, you are guaranteed to be called a racist, even though there is nothing wrong with that statement.
Now consider the immigration debate. Some conservatives have used an “us vs. them” framework to argue their position. Words such as “invasion” or “stealing American jobs” have been used to describe the immigrant that is coming into the country. The problem with such rhetoric is that we have allowed demagoguery enter into the discussion. The same kind of demagoguery that has infected the black lives matter movement, has infected the immigration debate.
If we are going to arrive to a resolution in our immigration debate, we as conservatives need to “change the tempo.” This means that we undertake the following two steps.
The first step is to realize that the immigrant, whether the one crossing the border illegally or the one coming under an H-1B work visa is not the enemy. They are coming to this country because there is a better opportunity. No one from any foreign country is crazy enough to come to the US for the opportunity to steal American jobs. People immigrate because there is no opportunity in their home country or because of the chaos.
The second step is to recognize what are the forces that want to keep the status quo. They are our real opponents. Those pushing for “fantasy land” solutions and those trying to end debate when they themselves have nothing to offer reflect the status quo. For my thoughts, some previous postings can found here and here. Needless to say, solutions are needed.
Conservatives need to win the rhetoric war not only in the immigration debate, but also in other policy debates affecting our country. To continue in arguing as an aggrieved liberal means that we are conceding that liberalism is the better philosophy.