The Maryland Model (part one)

Over the holidays I did a little bit of light reading, and while I was doing so it occurred to me that the General Assembly session is sneaking up on us rather quickly. In 2011 that session set the scene for what turned out to be one of our side’s rare successes in Maryland, the petition drive to bring the in-state tuition law for illegal aliens to referendum later this year. It appears that will be on the ballot since CASA de Maryland and other pro-illegal groups are dropping the challenge to the petition signatures and narrowing their focus to whether the referendum itself is legal while simultaneously fundraising to sustain the law at the ballot box.

That fundraising: $10 million. What that means: carpet-bombing the media with images of poor, purportedly law-abiding and successful immigrant families being denied a chance at the American Dream due to racist TEA Partiers who hate all those who look different than they do. Don’t believe me? Just watch.

And this nicely leads me into my main points of this post, which will be the first of a multipart series on what I’m calling the Maryland Model. You see, part of my reading over the holidays was this RedState article on what is called the Colorado Model, which led me to read the original post on this strategy from the Weekly Standard back in 2008. Read those articles (I’ll wait for you) then take a look at how the CASA de Maryland folks are fighting the will of the people here in the Free State.

While they have seven pieces to the puzzle in the RedState article, I’ve consolidated these to what I can call the 4 M’s: money, message, media, and mobilization.

First of all, let’s talk money. The other side already has a plethora of wealthy donors and foundations in place to provide this seed money. I have no doubt in my mind that this group will raise the $10 million; I’ve already conceded the side favoring the illegals will far outraise our side interested in upholding the rule of law. If you look at any race in the state of Maryland – even a lot of local races in so-called Republican areas – you’ll find the Democrats take in more than the Republicans a staggering percentage of the time. Money helped immensely in giving those of us in District 38 a somewhat liberal Democratic State Senator (Jim Mathias) in a district which should be electing Republicans all day and twice on Sundays. And let me tell you it wasn’t just a homegrown effort.

Yet the result of that influx of out-of-town money and expertise was nearly a dozen mailings I personally received (as a registered XXX Republican, one who votes in every election) touting Mathias as practically the second coming of Ronald Reagan. They certainly didn’t point out some of his votes to raise taxes, support Big Labor or prop up Radical Green. I look for the same sort of effort coming from those who support the illegals, but on a larger, statewide level. The commercials should be instant classics, so dripping with maudlin sympathy for the ‘victims’ as they will be.

And that will be the message, which is the second M. Liberals in Maryland have certainly succeeded in crafting a message which sounds good to voters. Take as an example that “a fee is a tax.” Once that phrase got out there, the underpinning fiscally conservative message Bob Ehrlich was trying to build on in his 2010 bid was blown out from under him since few people openly desire to have their taxes raised. That simple phrase pinned on Ehrlich negated the much larger tax raises Martin O’Malley rammed through the General Assembly in the 2007 Special Session in the same manner a 5-yard penalty on the defense wipes out a 15-yard infraction on the offense in football. In 2012 we replay the down.

The message CASA de Maryland will be putting out is sure to be simple and stark: you’re either a racist or you’re not. Being in favor of upholding the law and coming to our country through the proper channels will be countered by once again playing the race card. And they only need to pick up four points to be victorious, as evidenced in an October Gonzales Poll (see Pages 9 and 21 here.) Not being certain of how the ballot wording will be, it’s hard to tell whether the poll question presented would have unduly influenced the results – but I’m sure the message presented by the other side will be trying to paint it in the starkest terms of racism they can get away with.

And they’ll have a reasonably compliant media to use in promoting the message, as media is the third M in my quartet. Most conservatives have already figured out that much of the state’s mainstream media is in the tank for liberal causes to one extent or another. But what the Colorado Model also takes into account is how what is perceived as news comes to be, as each component of their coalition serves as an echo chamber which eventually can’t be ignored. Yet the other side has successfully promoted the opposite message of a conservative echo chamber which is outsized to the actual base of support, citing talk radio and conservative blogs as the sources. Well, I have news for you: both sides play this game, and the other side has mastered it to a greater extent than we have.

I will lay out a guarantee that the pro-illegal side will get more extensive and – more importantly – overtly favorable coverage from most of the state’s media. Echoing the message put out by that side, the news organizations will do their best to portray those opposing in-state tuition for illegals as extreme and xenophobic, brushing aside the reasoned contention that we’re rewarding one group which flouts the law at the expense of a far larger group that plays by the rules every day.

The final M may be the most tricky for their side, and that’s mobilization. Perhaps the lone advantage those on our side have is in motivation – after all, we were the ones who made the effort to put the referendum on the ballot in the first place.

But the left will have its storm troops too, particularly in areas where support will need to come from. I daresay there’s not going to be a lot of favor shown to the instate tuition proposal in this area, but along the I-95 corridor there are a number of groups which will be part of the coalition to preserve this cherished magnet state benefit; in particular I can cite portions of the religious community and (especially) unions which employ many immigrants like the purple shirts of the SEIU – already among the most rabidly political animals Big Labor has to offer. They’re going to be the ones knocking on doors and working the polls to promote their sob stories.

Nor can we count on assistance from other unions which may be better served by making this state a little less attractive to illegal aliens. My guess is that they’ll remain neutral and as silent as possible on the issue and focus their efforts on re-electing the ones already in their pocket: Barack Obama, Ben Cardin, the six incumbent Democrats Maryland sends to Congress, and also picking up the Sixth District seat with the winner of the Democratic primary – most likely either Duchy Trachtenberg or Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola. There’s no question we have enlisted at least a little bit of support from individual union members insofar as getting the referendum to the ballot, but the question is whether they’ll take the next step and become more of a pariah in their organization.

So if you peer at the scorecard at this early juncture, ten months out from a prospective election on this one issue, we are down three to one with the one point we can claim as ours being a rather tenuous one. The next part will deal with how we just might be able to begin taking away the other legs of their stool and perhaps making more victories for the conservative cause possible.

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