I’ve followed the Steve Southerland campaign since the middle of last March, and since that time I’ve raised numerous issues with its handling of immigration: it’s delay in addressing the issue on its website; the double-speak of its eventual statement; the endorsements it has received from illegal alien employers and open-borders advocates; its inability to understand the context of the 9/11 Victory Mosque. During this time, (back when it was still talking to me), I’ve received private assurances from the campaign that . . . well, now that I think of it, the private assurances have come down squarely on all sides of the immigration issue. I found I could read whatever I wanted into them.
But that’s been typical for this campaign. Read or listen to Mr. Southerland’s statements on anything and ask yourself: at the end of 2011, by what yardstick will I measure whether he has kept his campaign promises or not? For instance, he says he’s in favor of “lower spending”, but offers no concrete examples of spending he will cut. He says he’s in favor of lower regulation, but offers no examples of regulations he would repeal. In fact, his campaign is built entirely on gauzy generalities about “Freedom” and “The Constitution”, infused with ecumenical religiosity.
Notwithstanding all this, I was prepared to be flexible. I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope against hope that, once he was in office, he would vote as the conservative he insists he is. But no more.
Here is the text of the email I received from the campaign on Labor Day:
The American spirit was defined over 200 years ago by the eagerness of those who traveled to this great land of opportunity to earn their own way. Leaving distant shores and everything they'd ever known, they came to America to plow and harvest, invent and produce, scrimp and save, invest and earn their way to a new life.
Unfortunately, on this Labor Day, the sad reality is that 81% of Americans know someone who is unemployed and looking for work.
President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have advanced policies that demean and enslave both our hardworking labor force and our businesses, large and small. Sadly, our Congressman, Allen Boyd, has embraced and enabled these policies every step of the way.
Excessive taxation, unbridled and wasteful spending and the government takeover of health care and private industry are ruining our economy. Americans, who have worked hard, investing in their future and in the future of America, now find themselves on the road to serfdom.
The good news is that the people across Florida's 2nd Congressional District and across our great nation have had enough. We are ready to turn the page and recommit ourselves to the values and principles that made America the greatest country on the face of the earth.
Do I even need to say it?
First, my understanding of American history is that our founding stock came here primarily for self government: a chance to live under laws reflecting their own values and passed by their own people. And while I will grant him “plow and harvest” as a motivation, I would be surprised to learn that the “scrimp, save, and invent” were much on their mental radar. And of course, none of this has to do with Labor Day, which I understand to be a celebration of the power of labor unions.
But you can see the meta-message here. This isn’t really about the founding stock. The meta-message -- the message that Southerland chooses to celebrate in a context of his own creation -- is about late 19th century immigration. And while those immigrants may have indeed wanted to improve their lives, this observation says nothing about how today’s immigrants improve the lives of people already here.
Sadly, Southerland flunks more recent history as well. Yes, our economy is in trouble, but not for the reasons he thinks. Obama has not, in fact, raised personal income taxes; the “unbridled and wasteful spending” has been financed by Chinese loans. These imply a crippling fiscal crisis followed by massive tax hikes, but these threats remain in the future. No, the reason we are in a recession is because of a housing bubble inflated with the dissolution of mortgage lending standards in the name of helping minorities – most of them Mexican immigrants – buy homes they couldn’t afford. And George Bush bears every bit the blame for this as the Democrats do.
Ultimately, true conservatives in FL-02 must ask themselves: does having another “R” vote in the House outweigh the damage to the Conservative brand of electing a candidate as bad as this one? In a close election, maybe. But with the House takeover already a near certainty, I for one am prepared to say, “better the devil you know.”