Within a week of his election victory, word began to leak from the Bush administration that the President is resurrecting a failed plan to amnesty the millions of illegal aliens in this country. Let me briefly summarize the consequences of President Bush’s proposed policy of amnesty for illegal immigrants as it relates to his base of conservative voters: imagine a brick wall covered in long, poison-tipped, stainless steel spikes. Now imagine George Bush running towards that wall as fast he can, downhill.
What this metaphor lacks in nuance, it makes up for in accuracy — because amnesty is a coming crisis in the conservative movement — one entirely of Bush’s making. Few subjects in American politics are charged with more emotion than illegal immigration. This emotion exists primarily because this is one issue on which our two-party and somewhat Democratic system of government has abjectly failed to reflect the will of the American people.
An overwhelming majority of Americans of both parties want illegal immigration curtailed, as evidenced by polls and the margins with which ballot initiatives pass when presented to a direct vote of the people (such as proposition 200 in Arizona). But neither party will take up this popular cause. The Republican leadership sees cheap illegal labor as good for business (and they fear angering Hispanics) and the Democrat party sees illegals as reliable liberal voters in the making — an opportunity to outsource democracy to a labor pool that will sell their votes for government dollars at a favorable exchange rate.
So Americans have been left without a voice in their own government on this issue. Those who propose enforcing the law and punishing immigration law-breakers are marginalized and demonized. Now the Republican Party, normally the silent partner in the two-party conspiracy to promote uncontrolled borders, has decided to one-up the Democrats in their efforts to capture the nascent illegal voting block with the aforementioned amnesty (in fact, if not name) for the several million criminal aliens that America has accumulated over the last decade or so under the blind and winking eye of the federal government.
Bush and his advisors believe that this prostitution of the rule of law can further the inroads they have made into the legitimate immigrant community in America. The Republican base won’t like it, of course, but what are they going to do? Vote for the Democrats? No, the base can take it in the gut on this one and come next election they’ll crawl back to the only home they really have — and the Republicans will gain new voters to add to the old coalition.
It all sounds logical, and is — to a point. But I would remind our President that this is exactly the sort of thinking that turned “yellow dog” Democrats into Red-State Republicans. Just 40 years ago, the South was the most reliable part of the Democrats’ national coalition. In most precincts in the South, the vote split approximately 1% Republican (voter error) and 203% Democrat. So the Democrats began “safely” ignoring their base. They could go a little left, or a lot left, or off the radar to the left — and the Southerners would just have to deal with it and show up at the polls like always. No Southern Democrat would go Republican — ever. But then they did. Little by little they split tickets, stayed home or made the leap to outright conversion — and now the Democrats are a national party no more (to borrow a phrase). Offend your base one too many times and you will wake one Wednesday morning to find it gone.
In one swell foop, Bush is about to risk turning enthusiastic supporters into reluctant supporters. All it would then take for Democrats to steal the base on this issue is for a strain of Democrat to arise in which the populist/protectionist bent of the party is stronger than the multicultural fetish of the party elite. Such a Democrat caucus could simultaneously energize Unions, non-Union manufacturing and service workers, and African-Americans (who bear the brunt of immigrant wage pressure on unskilled job sectors). It could steal back the Rust belt, Sun belt, and Bible belt, and — just for kicks — get endorsed by Pat Buchanan. Plus you can throw in the votes of the law-and-order crowd and anyone who somehow believes that open borders are an open invitation to our terrorist enemies.
Many people love to make excuses for criminal alien laborers. They are just doing the work no American wants to do (for $3.00 an hour that is); they are just escaping poverty (should we let in all the rest of the third world too?); other than breaking one set of laws they are productive citizens who contribute to our economy (as are prostitutes and drug dealers, who are at least citizens and spend their money locally), and so on. But this issue really boils down to one thing: are we a nation of laws or aren’t we? The rule of law is the great prerequisite for democracy. Nothing kills freedom faster than corruption.
America currently suffers from a form of corruption in which there are two sets of laws: those that are on the books and those that a ruling class of the wealthy, the broadcast, and the elected think should be actually enforced. If this elite believes that an open and unregulated border is a good thing for America, then let them say so openly and persuade the people to change the law. Otherwise, let’s enforce the law we have agreed upon.
There is also a lot of talk of the need to amnesty illegals in order to give some “legal status” to America’s underground workforce. Here is a simple plan for giving a real legal status to the stowaways within our country: call them “criminals” and deport them. If the Federal government does not want to spend money on something as silly as law enforcement, then authorize local law enforcement to seize the assets of illegals as they already can with drug dealers. I think you will find that the communities most afflicted by the open border will then seal it themselves and the economic motivation for criminal entry will disappear on the auction blocks of the police forces of Arizona and Texas.
Or we can continue to play the corruption game and Bush can amnesty another crop of “good citizens” whose first act in America was to break our law and ignore the will of our people. In which case, I say to some future Howard Dean “If you really want the votes of all those working class Americans driving around with Confederate flags on their pick up trucks (and American flags and Irish flags and Polish flags??¢â???¬ ¦) then all you need to do is stand up for the law and have the guts not to back down when you say you want their votes.” Many jobs are being “insourced” far faster than they are being “outsourced”
And to President Bush I say “Conservatives are yours to lose. But you can do it.”