Being in the middle of a big list of projects and tasks that hugely interest me in every area of my activity (work, community, family, house, and so on), I’ve fallen behind on my news reading, and my RSS feed had piled up to hundreds of links. As I sorted through it, this morning, I put aside the stories about the national “Day Without Immigrants” protest to read later, assuming they were about some planned event in the future, because nothing has happened as I’ve gone about the tasks of life that would lead me to think that the reports were of something that had already happened.
If the goal of the event was to prove that “without [immigrants] and without our contribution, the country is paralyzed,” as a sign outside the business of Ivan Sanchez’s closed Providence business read, then I’d suggest the message was not received by more people than it was. (And most of those who received it were already in agreement.)
I don’t offer that suggestion in order to belittle the effort, but to highlight the bifurcation in Americans’ political views and life experiences. If most Americans blinked and missed the moment of being paralyzed, even many among those who noticed might not have taken the lesson that the activists intended.
In our staff meetings at the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, my role is often to interject into strategy discussions with the reset question of, “Who is our audience?” Those who tend toward the progressive view on immigration should ask themselves how others who disagree with them will interpret an event such as this. To the extent that it is actually disruptive, the message may very well be one of warning about what can happen when the country comes to rely too heavily on an identity group able to be activated as a political special interest.
After all, to the non-progressive who can’t purchase some item or receive some service because the immigrant provider is striking, the lesson may be that it is evidence that the immigrant shouldn’t have been permitted to dominate that market space. That’s not a view to which I subscribe, but if the point isn’t just to rile up a progressive base, but rather to connect with a broader audience, it’s a view that must be considered.