DREAM Act’s missing ally

LatinaLista — Now that a little time has passed since the Senate’s defeat of the DREAM Act, it’s easier to look back and see what went wrong.

jon_stewart_flag_background.jpgOn the one hand, the Senate was able to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and gave an eleventh hour reprieve to benefits for 9/11 First Responders — two bills that racked up as much opposition to them as the DREAM Act.

Yet, they passed amid much back-slapping and ear-to-ear smiles while the warning from the Senate floor to visitors in the chamber not to show emotion to the outcome of the DREAM Act vote still weighed heavily on the minds of everyone who had been hoping against hope for a different outcome for these young people.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

So what went wrong?

Did no one lobby Senators?

No. Many young people staged sit-in protests until a Senator identified as opposing the DREAM Act would come out and meet with them. There were even a few, like at Texas’ Sen. Hutchison’s office, where students were arrested for doing what they did.

Yet, these young people didn’t do anything out of the ordinary than other people promoting a bill. Just look at the proponents for the First Responder’s bill. Fifty of them went to Sen. Coburn’s office to meet with him and were turned away.

The group, led by first responder John Feal, traveled to Coburn’s office from New York and waited outside of his office for approximately 20 minutes before being denied a meeting and asked to leave, according to ThinkProgress .

A video shows the responders waiting quietly and holding up signs outside of Coburn’s office. On the way out, after having been asked to leave, the group breaks into a chorus of “God Bless America” while exiting the Russell Senate office building.

Did no one make phone calls?

Hardly. Phone banks were in full ringing mode the week leading up to the vote. It got so overwhelming for some senators that they stopped taking calls the day before the vote.

Was the DREAM Act a bill only a few people supported?

Not at all. Professional organizations from labor unions, teacher unions and religious leaders to every major Hispanic professional organization wrote letters urging the senators to pass the DREAM Act. Major newspapers, like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among others from the East to West coast, published editorials in favor of passing the DREAM Act.

Yet, none of it made one bit of difference. Why?

Looking back, I realize that DADT and 9/11 First Responders had a very influential lobbyist working on their behalf — for free.

His name is Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” While most people think of him as a satirical comic who passes judgement on the day’s current events, he has evolved into an effective and influential commentator, who with a deadpan stare and a rolling of the eyes, can make people see the absurdity of what happens in today’s world.

His relentless beating of the GOP senators against the First Responder’s health bill not just humiliated those politicians but cast serious doubt with their constituents, and other viewers, as to their qualifications to be in the Senate.

Stewart’s dry reason as to why DADT was still around made everyone see those senators opposed to it as being seriously out of touch with today’s world.

From Stewart’s success, it’s clear that he holds the Achilles Heel of politicians in his hands. What better way to strike at it than to make, those politicians using party politics as justification to oppose a bill that has a greater good attached to it,  the butt of jokes night after night on a show that even the President considers an essential platform to promote a certain message.

Next time around, the Latino community would save a lot of time if, rather than visiting individual senators, the case to pass the DREAM Act is made directly to Jon Stewart.

It’s obvious he has the power to get things done in Congress — by exposing the basal stupidity of party politics.

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