Saturday, July 21, 2007

It still troubles me

I’m trying to understand exactly what was going on in the Senate with Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Why were they all in such a hurry? (Always worry when Bush sides with the Democrats on the Hill. Something is up.) And remember when Trent Lott said, “Talk radio is running this country”, then suggested that they needed to fix that problem?

I think it all points to a change in the way Congress works. There was a time when Senators would make their deals with each other. Maybe they didn’t even read the fine print before they voted. They knew that Sam was getting what he wanted and Tip had his hand in it and Dan was the sponsor so you had to vote for it.

But now civilians are reading up on the bills. People with an interest in the issue read the bill and find flaws and pork. They get out on the Internet with the details, talk radio and the press pick up on it (it’s not just Fox and the conservatives – the libs use the MSM in the same way), and suddenly you have lots of constituent feedback.

So here’s what I think happened. The “grand bargain” of comprehensive immigration reform attempted to solve a POLITICAL problem. Congress and Bush were under attack from Latino protesters to give them amnesty. At the same time, conservatives wanted them to stop the nonsense. You had the makings of civil unrest, all due to the government ignoring the problem for 20 years.

These senators began to look at the issue and decided that courting the brown vote wasn’t worth the risk anymore. It was an attractive swing bloc but the cost was too high, especially with both extremes mobilized.

So, I think the grand bargain compromise was an agreement to “call it a draw”, a declaration that this new “third rail of politics” wasn’t worth the risk. Crafted right, each party could claim part of the victory for campaign purposes and Washington could scrape the issue off the bottom of its shoe.

But public exposure of the details of the bill made it clear that it did nothing to solve the social and economic problems with illegal aliens, especially at the local level.

Here’s what it would do for the feds:
1) Increase the likelihood that more people would be paying in to the IRS and Social Security funds.
2) Relieve the pressure cooker of this disconnect between the law and the status quo.
3) Please business interests.

But what it actually did was further erode the trust of the people in our elected officials. The GOP took a huge hit from its conservative base while reaching out (unsuccessfully) to the Latinos.

It is a prime example of situational ethics. Congress was telling us, “Sure they came here illegally, but they work hard and we need their labor. So lets give them a pass.”

Worse, the executive branch has shown us that they have deliberately under-enforced, even walking away from Homeland Security funding support, in an effort to appear tolerant. To the average citizen, such behavior is unconscionable.

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