One of the things that really disgusts me about most modern political analysis, especially that on television (as opposed to trustworthy print and internet publications), is how purely political it is. Everything is analyzed from the standpoint of abstract political game theory. Whether or not something should be done (i.e. “morality”) is simply left out.
Every crisis or debate is covered ad nauseum with inquiries of “Who benefits politically, Ed?” “Can he pull it off, Mark?” “Will this sell in the heartland, Michelle?” All of which usually leaves me screaming “WHO CARES?” at the television. Why don’t we ask if it’s good for America? Or maybe we should even ask if it might actually work?
A prime case in point is the second year of coverage of the undead amnesty debate in Congress. Coverage rarely extends past the marketing of the Kennedy/Bush amnesty to address those two basic questions. Clearly the bill, in all its little mutations and guises, fails both tests miserably. Illegal “immigration” did not become a major crisis in America until after the 1986 amnesty of a mere three million foreign trespassers.
That amnesty, billed as part of a border security and immigration reform package (sound familiar?), created today’s massive problem of 15 to 30 million illegal aliens by rewarding border infiltration and those who hire illegal labor. When a cop yells “FREEZE!” one assumes bad things could happen if you don’t comply. The 1986 amnesty turned the warning of immigration law enforcement into “FREEZE or I’ll make you a citizen at a discount rate!” Predictably, border infiltration and the use of illegal labor skyrocketed in the wake of this imbecile crippling of basic deterrence.
Bush’s current amnesty will repeat this mistake and pour gas on an already roaring fire. The only realistic solution to illegal immigration is vigorous enforcement over a period of several years to re-establish deterrence ( which is simply a belief that laws will probably be enforced, after all). Such enforcement must focus on those who hire illegal labor as well as on the illegal laborers themselves. Sometimes, the obvious answer is correct. This practical consideration has been at the root of my opposition to the many faces of amnesty we’ve had Bush trying to sell to us for so long.
But beyond my strange obsession with what is actually right and practical, a second source of frustration for me in this debate has been the fact that Bush, McCain, Rove, and the other proponents of amnesty within the GOP are not even making the correct political call in ignoring the disastrous long term effects of their proposed amnesty. So, for once, let’s use this column to look at this debate from a political standpoint, since that seems to be all that many in politics care about anyway.
Amnesty and open borders are a political disaster for the GOP, which is now split, embittered, demoralized and losing its base supporters in droves - and that’s just the short term consequence of Bush’s quixotic quagmire. Long term, a massive shift in demographics in favor of unskilled low-wage laborers with their own ethnic identity politics and a predilection for electing leftists promising “social justice” and, oh yeah, free stuff taken from the rich is an electoral nightmare for the Republican party. Long after Bush is gone, the GOP is going to be wounded and waning thanks to his poisonous and unrelenting efforts at amnesty.
Bush’s popularity is now at an all time low as even the most hardcore loyalists at the grassroots level walk away disillusioned and disgusted. This is tragic for a party that seemed, just 2 or 3 years ago, to be in the dawn of a long run as the majority party in America. And it is inexplicable, since it was totally avoidable. The correct (and rather obvious) strategy for the GOP on illegal immigration is to quietly but firmly pursue a policy of enforcement. This is what the base wants in the short term and this is what protects the majority in the long term. Also, it’s the right thing to do, but let’s just ignore that for the rest of this article.
Bush could have pursued such a policy without opposition in the days after September 11th, which was (if you recall) when a terror group including many illegal aliens on expired visas boarded planes with fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses and massacred 3000 people in the greatest act of terror in American history. Bush could have gone to Los Angeles and called for increased immigration enforcement in Spanish on "Univision" and been cheered as a hero.
Instead, Bush left the border open and pursued a policy of amnesty or nothing regarding security and reform. Thus, Bush is done. A similar attitude has also finished the presidential campaign of John McCain, although McCain hasn’t figured it out yet, since he lives in a media bubble. Pursuing amnesty for illegal aliens and defending the corruption of illegal labor, plus the network of fake documents, human smugglers, tax evasion, and identity theft that makes it all possible will severely damage any Republican leader stupid enough to try to do so.
So what is the correct strategy for Republicans to pursue now that Bush and friends have bungled the easy opportunity? They must run away from the President (and towards the base) on this issue, vote the bill down and kill the amnesty discussion as quickly as possible. Every day that this debate continues the party bleeds support.
Immediately after the amnesty issue is removed, enforcement measures - workplace enforcement above all, should be proposed, passed and funded, along with a big visible fence and a robust means to remove those overstaying visas quickly and with little fuss (i.e. BEFORE they’ve been here 20 years and have kids in high school).
Do that and, as they say in Spanish, “Voile!” the issue is dead for years while enforcement is given a chance to work. The base begins to return thanks to a Presidential race and the demographics of the future are not so bleak for the party that once claimed to represent law and order, the middle class, small government, and fiscal responsibility.
Politically, it’s actually an easy issue - unless you want to ram a second amnesty down America’s throat and have them thank you for it on election day.