This week, Scott Walker hired Liz Mair to run social media outreach for his incipient presidential campaign.
Unfortunately for Walker, Mair is a pro-choice, pro-immigration, Republican-in-name-only, and she ain’t afraid to tweet so:
Today, Mair resigned from the Walker campaign.
Certainly, it’s less than ideal to have a “head of social media outreach” that has used social media to ridicule some of the people she’s been hired to reach out to.
Still, The Purge of Mair feels gratuitous and indicative of one of the central challenges facing the 2016 G.O.P.: How to build a national majority off a base that prides itself on ideological exclusivity?
Officially, Mair was ousted for the tone of her tweets about Iowans, not her liberal social politics. But the conservative media pushback against her hiring seemed more concerned with who Mair is and what she believes, than by anything she might have said about the Hawkeye state.
One of the many pieces that right-wing news site Breitbart ran on Mair yesterday opened with this bombshell:
“Mair, a supporter of open borders immigration, amnesty for illegal aliens and the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill from last Congress, has dual citizenship in both the United States and the United Kingdom.”
Mair is labeled a heretic three times before the verb, after which, she’s branded a secret lobsterback.
Intrepid reporter Matthew Boyle notes that Mair was born in the United States. Therefore, her dual citizenship is no tragic inheritance but a conscious choice for which she must be held accountable. Boyle demands Mair explain,“Why wasn’t US citizenship good enough?”
Mair wasn’t hired to design Scott Walker’s policy towards Great Britain. She was hired to manage some email lists. But in a crowded primary field where everyone not named Jeb is jockeying for the title of truest conservative, every impurity must be answered for. In this environment, a candidate simply can’t have a pro-choice “dual citizen” writing his hash-tags.
It’s worth noting that when Mair tweeted, “I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself and the GOP this morning,” she was lamenting her party’s intolerant nativism. What was embarrassing to Mair was the spectacle of her party’s would-be presidents declaring their hostility to “illegal aliens”, at an event organized by one of the country’s most transparently racist Congressmen.
The ubiquity of the word “alien” is one of the more stunning features of GOP primary discourse. The term is rarely used in written policy, where the modifier “illegal” is deemed sufficiently dehumanizing. But in the Republican primary, many candidates appear uncomfortable merely adopting xenophobic policy; they feel compelled to adopt xenophobic language as well. These candidates signal their belonging to the conservative movement by literally alienating its opponents.
And this imperative to define ideological enemies as aliens isn’t limited to debates over immigration. The tribalism that leads Steve King to deny undocumented workers the title of “immigrant,” is the same that leads Scott Walker to deny President Obama the title of “Christian.” Today, in deference to that tribalism, Walker denied Mair the title of social media director.
The view that one’s political opponents aren’t fellow citizens to be persuaded, but “unAmericans” to be defeated, was the basis of Romeny’s infamous claim that “47 percent” of the electorate were unreachable moochers.
To become President, the Republican nominee will need to find a way of sneaking a few aliens back into his party’s small-tent, after spending all primary season kicking them out.
Or, he could just try to keep them from voting.