Two Immigration Ads, One Dark, the Other Sunny
“teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”
By: Tim Arango, New York Times
Last weekend, as the federal government was shutting down amid partisan squabbles over immigration, President Trump’s re-election campaign released an ad featuring an undocumented immigrant from Mexico accused of murdering two Sacramento police officers.
Democrats, the ad stated, are “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”
On the same day, a group of California Republicans put out their own ad about immigration. It featured the sunny disposition of Ronald Reagan, and words he spoke form the Oval Office in 1989, as he prepared to leave office. In the address, President Reagan defined what he meant when described, as he often did, America as a “shining city.”
It is a country, he said, “teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”
The contrasting tone of the two ads — one dark and ominous, the other bright and optimistic — say a lot about the divergence between the national Republican Party and the party in California. In California, the party is fighting for relevance in a state whose diversity — Latinos are a plurality in the state — and progressive values have placed it at the forefront of opposition to the Trump administration.
“In California we have a problem,” said Chad Mayes, a former Republican leader in the California State Assembly, who was pushed out of his leadership position last year after a backlash within his party because he negotiated with Democrats on climate change.
Mr. Mayes, from Yucca Valley, grew up the poor son of a preacher and has taken moderate positions on a number of issues, including immigration, climate change and poverty. In an effort to rebrand his own party, Mr. Mayes recently founded New Way California, which put out the Reagan ad and has drawn the support of the former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When he was his party’s leader in the State Assembly, polling he conducted showed that many Californians, “didn’t think we cared about people,” he said. “They thought we were caustic and abrasive,” he added, and only looked out for, “rich white people.”
Mr. Mayes said his organization is not explicitly anti-Trump. But he said that for Republicans in California to become relevant again, they must have a different message than the party has nationally. “Contempt for fellow man,” he said, is not a winning political strategy in California.
He continued, “I’m a white guy. We are not the majority in California. The Republican Party cannot be the party of white people.”