Pundits are predicting that Republicans could pick up 40 to 100 seats in the U.S. House this November. But Democrats are about to unveil their secret weapon to keep Nancy Pelosi in her catbird seat.
What could be the magic bullet with the potential to discredit the Republican Party as a vehicle for Americans opposed to Barack Obama's radical changes? The answer is Mexican trucks, a foolish idea left over from the George W. Bush era, and some Republicans are on the verge of drinking the Kool-Aid.
This month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the former Republican congressman from Peoria, Ill., told a Senate subcommittee that he would soon announce a plan to allow Mexican trucks to drive their loads on U.S. roads. He said the timing of this decision is "closer than soon."
A similar promise was made in March by Trade Representative Ron Kirk. As mayor of Dallas, Kirk supported a "NAFTA Freeway" between the U.S. and Mexico.
The political danger of this issue to Republicans is best illustrated by what happened to a favorite conservative congressman, the great track star Jim Ryun of Kansas. In 2006, Ryun unexpectedly lost his seat to Democrat Nancy Boyda, a feminist who pretended otherwise by rejecting the support of EMILY's List.
Boyda quickly cemented her popularity in 2007 by sponsoring a bill to ban Mexican trucks from venturing beyond the border zone, where they were then required to transfer their cargo onto U.S. trucks. Boyda's bill passed the House by the overwhelming vote of 411 to 3, and the Senate passed a similar bill 75 to 23.
Then-Sen. Obama and then-Rep. LaHood both voted for the ban. The Bush administration then exploited a loophole by starting a so-called demonstration program 30 days before the ban took effect.
When Ryun tried to reclaim his seat in 2008, he foolishly defended the indefensible Mexican truck plan. Because a Republican cannot win if he allows a Democrat to get to the right of him on an issue people care about, Ryun was denied renomination by his own party.
The campaign to invade America with Mexican trucks relies on misrepresentations and falsehoods, mostly designed to mislead Republicans. Among these is the claim that the Mexican truck ban is a payoff to James Hoffa's Teamsters Union, which helped elect Obama in 2008.
Most Republicans instinctively oppose anything supported by the Teamsters. But the exact same position against Mexican trucks is held by the Teamsters' chief rivals, the non-union independent drivers and owner-operators, who mostly vote Republican.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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