Michael Leppert: Young opens campaign in Trumpy way

By Michael Leppert
For The Republic

The 2016 presidential campaign called, and it wants its bad ideas back. Regretfully, Indiana’s 2022 U.S. Senate race appears to be headed toward focusing on the worst ideas of one of the worst campaign seasons ever. That is, if the incumbent Marine has his way.

“They hated Donald Trump so much, they opened up the border,” is the opening sentence in the opening ad being run in Sen. Todd Young’s first re-election campaign. Really, senator?

I actually think Young is a decent person, is often a rational member of an irrational caucus, and has the potential to be that steady voice of reason in a town desperately in need of a few good men — and even more good women. I also believe that the first ad of any political ad campaign is a clear indicator of things to come. That is especially true when the ad is being run by the incumbent who is the early and clear favorite to win.

So, when I got Sen. Young’s first TV ad of the season via email earlier this week, I about spit out my coffee just a few seconds into it. I know the holidays are over, but it sure sounded like an ad celebrating Festivus, the fictitious holiday created on “Seinfeld” by Mr. Castanza. It too starts with the “airing of the grievances.”

Let’s break down that opening sentence of the ad a little. First, the immigration policies of the Joe Biden administration do not exist because of any feelings about Donald Trump. They exist because that is what the Biden team believes is the right thing to do, given the circumstances of the moment, and the vision the president has for it. It is silly to even imply that the policies are born out of some hatred toward anyone, let alone the former, defeated president.

Second, the border is not open. That is a ridiculous scare tactic, particularly here in Indiana. Indianapolis is only about 1,300 miles away from the border and its half-built fence, so I can see why Hoosiers should be focused on our nation’s greatest vanity project. I imagine another caravan of dangerous Central American migrants will magically appear specifically to threaten the Heartland with another invasion around, say, mid-October.

The border wall is, was and always will be a bad idea. I am confident Sen. Young knows that, just as he knows that the entire manner in which our immigration system operates is not modern and in need of a bipartisan overhaul.

If ever there was something a government should return for a refund, it is the money the federal government spent on the border wall. How many COVID tests, vaccines and ventilators could we purchase for the money we burned on that fence?

The ad goes on to describe the crisis at the border as “a catastrophe of Joe Biden’s making.” How convenient it must be for this generational crisis to have been created by a president that has been in office for one year. The southern border was full of lollipops and ponies before January of last year apparently. Which is, of course, why the wall was being built in the first place.

The ad’s big finish is when he says, “we have a country to save.” Again, really, senator?

Last March, in a survey by Gallup, U.S. adults ranked the threat to our country by large numbers of immigrants as the eighth most pressing security issue, significantly behind the seventh ranked issue of climate change. My advice to Sen. Young’s campaign is that if you want to save the country, look up. Look up the list, that is.

This ad is beneath Sen. Young and his constituents. It’s a relic of a campaign we will all one day want to forget. Hopefully, his next ad will actually be about his plan for our future.

Michael Leppert is an author, educator and a communication consultant in Indianapolis. He writes about government, politics and culture at MichaelLeppert.com. Send comments to [email protected]