Tag: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Marketing 101

Many thanks to everyone who has recently commented on my posts. You’re all in the running for copies of Raul Ramos y Sanchez’s novels as part of my latest giveaway.

I have to admit, however, that Emmasota’s comment about the Dream Act’s demise conjured up an unpleasant memory for me.

You see, last year I worked with a nonprofit to advocate for the passage of the Dream Act. I knew the odds were long, and of course, the legislation ultimately didn’t pass.

But I would feel better today about fighting the good fight if I hadn’t known, at the time, that our approach was doomed. I had a queasy sensation early on, when I saw one of the video packages that the nonprofit put together (I wasn’t involved with that stage of the campaign).

The video featured kids who would directly benefit from the Dream Act’s passage. Much of it was good, with heart-tugging stories from all-American, clean-cut teens.

But then the bottom fell out. The voiceover threw around terms like “fairness” and “justice.” And one of the teens stated that he “deserved” the rights that the Dream Act would confer.

I knew it was over as soon as the kid said that word.

Americans don’t want to hear that anybody deserves anything. Hell, many citizens will lose their minds if one implies that they deserve basic healthcare (and that’s in their own self-interest!). They certainly don’t want to hear that some whiny kid who wasn’t even born in this country “deserves” his rights.

Sending a video to media outlets and political leaders that featured this tone-deaf tactic just stunned me. Clearly, many advocates of immigration reform haven’t learned the importance of basic marketing.

They continue to push the compassion angle, or back up their assertions with facts that impress no one.

But if the Bush years taught us anything, it’s that sympathy is for suckers. More important, we learned that the truth is irrelevant. Or it’s at least a distant second to proper messaging.

How else do you think conservatives got an overwhelming majority of Americans to embrace a war that made absolutely no sense?

Other progressive movements have learned this tactic.

For example, gay rights are also issue of fairness and basic justice. Yet, advocates of repealing the DADT Policy went easy on this essential truth. Instead, they successfully presented the issue as one that was necessary to America’s well-being.

The message was, basically, “We need all the help we can get establishing a strong military and intelligence network. This will keep America safe, so drop your prejudice in favor of simple self-preservation.”

It worked. DADT is history.

Immigration-reform advocates need to adopt this strategy. Instead of pointing out about how unfair or irrational our policies are — which is true but a loser’s lament — hit people in the wallet by making it clear that a massive-deportation philosophy will cost them money. Or hammer home the idea that policies such as the Dream Act will improve the economy and strengthen the military.

In other words, let’s see more about how immigration reform will benefit current citizens, instead of pleading that civil rights be extended to strangers.

It may not be pretty, or even that principled. But it has to be more effective than what we’ve accomplished so far.


You Can’t Win ‘Em All

Thanks to Lucifurry and Ankhesen Mie for their recent comments on my posts.

Perhaps they were as surprised as I was to find out that, in 2011, gay soldiers are less controversial than undocumented immigrants.

Yes, in a final burst of lame-duck progressivism, the U.S. Congress rightfully eliminated the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy at the end of 2010. As happy as I am for gay-rights activists, I feel a twinge of jealousy that about five minutes before the Senate decided to give the homophobia a break, these same people said, “But those brown-skinned kids still have to go.

Even though they were willing to deal with President Obama on just about every other piece of last-minute legislation, Republicans squashed the Dream Act as if it were a pesky mosquito.

Clearly, getting tough on illegals is still a resonant theme for the GOP. This is despite the fact that it is long-term political suicide to piss off the fastest-growing demographic in America.

The approach also ignores the fact that “Americans are more inclined to support than oppose legislation similar to the Dream Act.”

So even popular appeal is not enough to pass this most modest of reforms, which “was originally designed to be the first in a sequence of measures to resolve the status of the nation’s illegal immigrants.”

Rather than a starting point, however, the Dream Act became a flash point, proving that “in the age of stalemate, immigration may have a special place in the firmament.”

Indeed, could anyone have predicted, a decade ago, that Republicans would be more willing to say nice things about homosexuals than they are to pass immigration reform that’s actually beneficial to their big-business overlords?

And the miniscule progress that has been made will soon be wiped out, because “when Republican lawmakers take over the House and gain strength in the Senate … a decade-long drive to overhaul the immigration system and legalize some of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants seems all but certain to come to a halt.”

The optimists among us insist that change is still possible. In fact, President Obama recently told Congressional Hispanic Caucus members that “he’ll renew his push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2011 — even though such an effort would face even longer odds in a Congress where Republicans control the House.”

But quixotic efforts aside, no one expects the issue to be resolved in time for, say, the 2012 elections. That means it will once again be open season on the undocumented (and by extension, Latinos) during the presidential campaign.

If only we were as popular and universally beloved as gay people are… yes that’s sarcasm.


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