Bexar County Democratic Chairman Manuel Me- dina defends a controver- sial ad by calling the tea party “a terrorist or- ganization.”
Fear is the great motivator in politics. It’s always easier to scare someone to the polls to vote against your opponent than it is to persuade them to the polls to vote for you.
Lyndon Johnson’s campaign strategists understood that in 1964 when they conceived the infamous “Daisy Girl” ad, which hinted that the election of Johnson’s opponent, Barry Goldwater, would result in a “Dr. Strangelove” dystopia filled with nuclear mushroom clouds.
Manuel Medina understands this, too. That’s why the Bexar County Democratic Partychairman launched a new Spanish-language ad last Thursday on Univision, implying that tea party Republicans rank up there with ISIS as the organization most likely to behead us in our sleep.
The Univision airtime was bankrolled (to the tune of $25,000) by personal-injury attorney Thomas J. Henry, who has also made a big splash in the Bexar County district attorney race by donating more than $1.2 million to Democratic candidate Nico LaHood.
The Univision ad begins by showing the United States and Mexican flags waving next to each other, with a narrator saying, “These two flags represent friendship, liberty, opportunity and justice.”
That image is quickly replaced by the tea party’s “Don’t Tread on Me” banner.
This flag, the narrator warns us, is “muy peligrosa” (very dangerous).
“It’s the flag of the tea party Republicans. They are radical terrorists and they want to take matters into their own hands, affecting our children and families with violence and firearms on the border and in our cities.”
That accusation is accompanied by photos of Texas militia members in camouflage uniforms and a worried woman holding tight to her child.
Before we get to this ad’s fear-mongering message, there are a few elements to untangle.
First, it’s not quite fair to equate civilian militia vigilantes with tea party Republicans.
It’s true that many individual militia members sympathize with the tea party movement, and it’s also true that Republicans have been reluctant to criticize the border militias.
But they’re still separate entities, and any Democrat who resented hearing about how Barack Obama “palled around” with terrorists, simply because former Weather Underground radicalWilliam Ayers hosted a fundraiser for him in the 1990s, should appreciate the distinction.
“It’s disappointing that they would refer to the tea party that way,” said Allen Tharp, president of the San Antonio Tea Party and CEO of the Lion & Rose pubs.
Tharp says his group’s three main objectives are the elimination of government debt, tax reduction and individual choice on health care. He added that he doesn’t know anyone who is part of the border militias.
Second, when we talk about “tea party Republicans,” it’s important to differentiate between tea party organizations and GOP candidates who have the support of those organizations. They may share similar agendas, but they don’t speak for each other, in the same way that libertarians might admire Rand Paul, but they don’t speak for him.
Finally, as misguided and irresponsible as these self-appointed border vigilantes are, we might want to refrain from branding them “terroristas radicales” (as Medina’s ad does), when we know it’s a term that immediately conjures images of jihadists sneaking bombs onto commercial flights.
You can hate the tea party movement and still recognize the cynicism of a commercial that tells Spanish speakers a vote for a tea party-affiliated Republican is a vote for terroristic violence.
Medina defended the ad — which…..read more.
BY GILBERT GARCIA