It’s not often that politicians insult their own constituents. It’s not often that a Republican congressperson slanders a respected national conservative commentator. And it’s not often that a Republican enjoys financial help from a billionaire left-winger. But the 2nd district of North Carolina has drawn the short end of the stick with GOP Representative Renee Ellmers. (North Carolina’s 2nd district includes Fort Bragg and all or part of Moore, Cumberland, and Wake counties.)
Ellmers insulted a group of constituents for expressing valid concerns about mass immigration, rudely lashed out at Laura Ingraham, then turned to liberal donor groups to help her primary campaign — an appeal that resulted in huge donations from Mark Zuckerberg.
In 2010, Ellmers (R-NC, 2nd district) rode the Tea Party wave into office, and identified herself with the grass roots. Now, after turning her back on the constituents who once supported her, she is in a heated primary fight against conservative Frank Roche. How did a Republicans from a red district become amnesty’s biggest Republican supporter? The simple answer is bad ideas and big money.
Bad ideas, as is often the case, were the start. Early in 2014, Ellmers put her name to an op-ed piece that could have easily been written by the Obama administration. In her op-ed piece, in the context of defending a change to immigration law, Ellmers wrote:
If an individual wants to come to this country to work, to provide for his family and contribute to his community, he should be allowed to do so. Our focus should be on his intent, not his circumstance.
If that sentiment is the guiding principle for immigration law, it is a recipe for amnesty. If the law must bend to the supposedly good “intent” of every person who wishes to cross our border, then we might as well not have a border.
Ellmers’s op-ed didn’t help her with grassroots conservatives, but it was her ill-tempered outburst on Laura Ingraham’s show in March that raised alarm. After Ingraham politely challenged her on the rationale behind immigration reform, Ellmers lost it, calling Ingraham “small-minded” and “ignorant.”
After she tarnished her own reputation by deriding Ingraham, Ellmers took the initiative to reach out to pro-amnesty lobbying groups and pled for help in a PR campaign to spruce up her image. Before long, Facebook’s Zuckerberg was dumping money into ads supporting Ellmers. One of the Zuckerberg-sponsored ads claims that Ellmers is “working hard to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system once and for all. No amnesty, period.” As a result of these misleading ads, Daniel Horowitz at Red State called Ellmers “a passionate supporter of amnesty and open borders” in an article titled, “How to Lie Your Way Through a Primary,” which fairly sums up Ellmers’ leadership style.
Not content to deride a respected national conservative commentator, Ellmers next turned on her own constituents. In a now-infamous meeting with a group of North Carolina voters, Ellmers lashed out at attendees who questioned why America should be importing low-skilled labor at a time of sustained unemployment. Ellmers rudely interrupted her constituents while they spoke, at one point saying, “You don’t have any damned facts.” One of the attendees at that meeting, Bob Youngblood, said that he and his group had never been “so rudely and arrogantly treated.”
Another attendee, Ron Woodward, said that Ellmers “was the most misinformed and uninformed member of Congress I have ever spoken with on the matter of immigration reform,” adding:
Not once during our conversation did Ellmers ever say she was concerned or troubled by our high unemployment rate and how citizens are suffering. After the meeting with Ellmers we all felt that she thinks she is invincible and feels she no longer needs to really listen to conservatives.
Ellmers denies the charge that she supports amnesty, claiming that she has the same position on immigration as Sen. Mike Lee. Sen. Lee’s office directly refuted that claim, saying:
We have read Rep. Ellmers’ most recent op-ed on reform and it sounds a lot like how the Gang of Eight tried to sell comprehensive immigration reform, something Sen. Lee spent several months last year opposing.
For Ellmers, her bizarre amnesty position led her to plead for more big money — including donations from her new billionaire left-wing supporter, Zuckerberg. Big money and bad ideas are the bulk of Ellmers’ baggage, but she is just one outgrowth of an increasingly careless and arrogant elite. She fits the profile of the Dead Souls that Samuel Huntington warned of: elites who have lost connection with the interests of their homeland and community. Modern elites, according to Huntington, often “view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing.” Huntington noted that this view of immigration puts elites at odds with the public, and that this conflict would grow as elites grew further detached from mainstream America, in attitude and interests.
Indeed, an overwhelming majority of North Carolina likely voters, according to a recent poll by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, “oppose granting legal status to illegal aliens before a border security plan is fully implemented.” But why would Ellmers listen to the majority?
Like many members of the American elite, Ellmers is insulated from the consequences of the awful political fads she supports. Her constituents are the forgotten men and women who are made to bear the burden of Ellmers’ grandstanding. Her constituents rely on normal jobs or retirement income, not Congressional pensions. They feel the pinch of stagnant wages and a tight job market, problems that are exacerbated by low-skilled, low-wage mass immigration. As Paul Krugman wrote in 2006, “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers” and poses a “political threat” to “the welfare state.”
Ellmers has attained a degree of social status that allows her — if she chooses — to look down on her constituents and remain indifferent to the pressures they face in their lives. With the support of elites like Zuckerberg, Ellmers probably thinks that she can safely ignore the interests of the majority. She has arrived on the D.C. political scene. That grand achievement carries with it various entitlements, such as scoffing at one’s own constituents.
Ellmers’ primary challenger, Frank Roche, has earned endorsements from several grassroots conservative groups. For those seeking to send a message to the pro-amnesty GOP establishment, this is the chance.