Hybrid Politics: Blue America Goes Red

The immigration reform bill has helped to fashion a hybrid brand of politics. By reaching across political lines, the proposed measure pairs normally conflicting ideologies of political thought in a common bond. Some old-line Congressional Republicans (such as Trent Lott) and new RINOs (such as Lindsay Graham) are accepting amnesty for illegal immigrants while some moderate Democrats appeared almost conservative by opposing the bill and rallying for hard line border security instead.

The Blue Dogs — the moderate Democrats elected in 2006 — are lining up to help slow — or even stop — the bill. The Bush-McCain-Kennedy compromise bill is currently scheduled to go back to the Senate floor this week, and may pass before July 4th.. While “conservatives” including President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) aligned themselves with ultra-liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.), a handful of Blue Dogs like Rep. Nancy Boyda (Kan.) and Rep. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.) stood with the bill’s most vocal opponents, like Republican Senators Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and John Cornyn (R-Tx).

In a column for HUMAN EVENTS, Boyda wrote that “Most see America as a nation of immigrants, and they welcome new immigrants into our country — as long as they enter legally, understand our culture and our language, and become productive members of our society.”

While the majority of Republicans did not support the bill, some key figures did. For example, Republicans John Kyl (Ariz.), Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.) went to great lengths to side with Bush and McCain. Democrats who stayed tough on border security seemed determined to prove that principle is more important than party allegiances. As Rep. Heath Schuler (D.-N.C.) told Congressional Quarterly, “I am here to represent the people of my district, not the Democratic leaders.”

Like Boyda and Schuler, Democrats who oppose this bill must continue to keep their constituents informed. Since common sense isn’t coded in a particular political ideology, the vocal, bi-partisan opposition to this bill ensured that many Americans were afforded the opportunity to see this immigration reform for what it really is: amnesty.

Will the Blue Dogs be able to be a significant force in opposing the Senate bill?

Blue dogs including Rep. Steven Kagan (Wis.), Rep. Chris Carney (Penn.), Rep. Jason Altmire (Penn.), and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) are taking their best shot. On the website “Blue Dogs of the Democratic Party,” a statement says that comprehensive immigration reform should mean that we “secure the border and include …all who want to come to the USA an opportunity to fair process.” That is how fair-minded, logical and grateful — legal — Americans will embrace those who wish to reside here.

Rep. Bart Gordon (D.-Tenn.) said in a press release, “Rather than provide amnesty through ill-conceived proposals like the Z visa plan, a good place to start is to enforce our current laws and put more and better trained officers along the border.”

In April, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D.-Ind.), introduced the Legal Employee Verification Act, which doubles the minimum fines imposed on employers who violate immigration employment laws. It would also establish a verification system and assist employers in more easily identifying which individuals are citizens.

The Blue Dogs were elected on platforms that distinguished them from the loony antiwar Dems. They are — or at least seem to be — in the mold of the old Southern Democrats. Not conservatives in the Republican mold: but thoroughly invested in the security of America. If they can revive that stance within today’s Democratic Party, it will be a minor miracle. And very good for our nation.