The Return of Jesse Helms-Style Campaign Tactics

There I was, innocently watching daytime television, and a political ad came on the screen. After all, ’tis the season and the mid-term elections this year are bound to feature many spirited campaigns as both parties jockey for control of the House and Senate. Yet, what I saw shocked me.

Someone had the gall to recreate a Jesse Helms smear campaign from 1990.

In 1990 Helms, the longtime senator from North Carolina, was involved in a hotly-contested race with former Charlotte governor Harvey Gantt, a black man. Near the end of the campaign, Helms played the race card like it had never been played before.

He ran a commercial which featured a pair of white hands holding a rejection letter. As the hands crumpled up the paper, the voice over said (I may be paraphrasing here), “You wanted that job, you were the most qualified, but they gave it to a black man because of racial quotas.”

Well, the current ad had a little bit of a twist. Instead of a pair of white hands, it showed a black woman getting denied employment because, as the voice-over tells us, the employer decided to hire an illegal alien because they could pay him under the table.

Next up was a white man and his daughter, who find out the man is no longer employable because they only want bi-lingual employees.

The ad goes on to introduce our candidate, Vernon Robinson, who pledges to stop the menace of illegal immigration that his opponent, Brad Miller, is allowing to ruin our great country.

Robinson is a black man.

I guess it is a great thing that we live in a country where a member of an oppressed group can grow up and use the same tactics to oppress a different group.

Stunned, I did a little research to find out about Robinson. It turns out that this is not his first campaign. While I did not recall his name, I certainly remember his commercial from two years ago. He ran in 2004 and had an ad which showed Hillary Clinton, morphing into the face of his opponent, Virginia Foxx. The 5th district of North Carolina is now represented by Foxx.

He also proudly proclaims himself to be the black Jesse Helms and counts among his supporters Pat Robinson.

I guess now is as good of a time as any to be upfront and declare that I am one of those no-good liberals who is just ruining the country for Pat Robinson, Vernon Robinson, Mrs. Robinson and every other well-off person in the country.

To these fine people who think scapegoating is the solution to our problems, I have a few thoughts:

First, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) in a 2006 speech cited the President’s 2005 Economic Report, which shows that the “average immigrant pays nearly $1,800 more in taxes than he or she costs the economy.” All illegal aliens pay sales tax on items they purchase and many pay money into Social Security that they never take out. The government “keeps track of the earnings of all workers who have mismatched or invalid Social Security numbers in the so-called Earnings Suspense File (ESF). The ESF was valued at $463 billion in 2002.”

Jobs that pay under the table are low-wage jobs. Minimum wage type-jobs. To the black woman who lost out on this job in the commercial, let me offer some hope: there’s no shortage of minimum wage jobs available in this country.

And to the white man who’s not bi-lingual, most people hired for good paying bi-lingual jobs are not Latin’s with English as their second language. Rather they are former missionaries who spent time in a Spanish-speaking country.

Finally, let me re-work a song from 1963, with my edits in bold.

A South politician preaches to the poor black man,
“You got more than the spics, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born American,” they explain.
And the Latin’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor black remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

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