By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org
HOUSTON — As Texas Republicans prepare for their convention in Fort Worth later this week, a newsletter from liberty activist Dean Wright hit my inbox yesterday highlighting two issues he thinks attendees should be talking about: illegal immigration and the admissions favoritism scandal at the University of Texas.
Wright wants to see grassroots Republicans hold the establishment accountable on both.
I’m always happy to see folks spreading the word about legislators abusing their office to bump deserving students from their places at UT for their own selfish reasons, but I think the imbalance between Wright’s two issues shows why the establishment is so often able to outmaneuver the grassroots.
It’s not just that illegal immigration would shoulder-check admissions favoritism out of any discussion. Illegal immigration has a way of eclipsing every other issue, especially the ones conservatives care about.
Pop quiz: how’s Arizona’s economy doing under Gov. Jan Brewer? A: Nobody knows, or cares. When there’s an immigration battle on, nothing else gets traction.
It would be a shame if this happened in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry has had indisputable success at driving a national story about his state’s low taxes and light regulatory burden fueling economic growth.
Dan Patrick, likely the next lieutenant governor of Texas, ran on immigration issues in seeking his party’s nomination, but now he has a better opportunity: he inherits Perry’s economic momentum and narrative, and he can seal Texas’ popular image by pressing regulatory and tax reform in the state Senate.
The truth, as I pointed out in a longer piece at The American Spectator last week, is that Texas isn’t all that light on regulation. In the most recent Freedom in the 50 States study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, we were ranked 13th for regulatory freedom. All sorts of rackets are protected by state law and regulation.
Since the press has already made Patrick synonymous with the tea party, whether that’s deserved or not, this ought to be the moment for the tea party to press its core issues: trimming government overreach, and especially, its waste, cronyism and abuse of power.
If the tea party takes this moment when it’s actually getting candidates elected to high office and presses for provocative immigration policies, the left and the media will say that when tea partiers got the chance to act on their beliefs, they picked on Mexicans instead.
I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind on immigration, but going to a convention and demanding that politicians tell you what you want to hear is silly, whether you’re talking immigration, guns, abortion or taxes. They love doing that.
Instead, ask them to talk about things they’d rather not talk about, the things they assume you don’t care about, the little perks they gave themselves figuring nobody would ever find out. Ask whether they have the guts to speak out about it when the evidence implicates their own party bosses.
You get rid of unprincipled politicians and their waste and cronyism by making them answer for the things they’ve done, not by letting them off with a promise to do something you want.
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