May 30 2006
I have read all across the major conservative sites where people say we cannot have an comprehensive bill on immigration (i.e., expand the guest worker program and document the immigrant workers) because it is not where ‘the people’ are.Â That’s a hoot.Â It is were most of us our except the far right conservatives.Â Check out this reasoning from John McIntyre at RCP (someone I admire a great deal):
This is a critical juncture for the GOP on illegal immigration and how to fashion a comprehensive solution to the broader immigration debate.Â …Â This past weekend two beltway icons, David Broder on Meet the Press and Bill Kristol on FOX News Sunday, encapsulated the conventional wisdom by saying President Bush would benefit from passing a comprehensive reform bill. They are wrong – especially if we are talking about any compromise that looks remotely like the Senate bill that passed with 85% Democratic support over the objections of nearly 2/3rd of Senate Republicans. Kristol, Broder and the majority of establishment intelligentsia don’t appreciate the political dynamics at play in the broad middle of the country.
Actually they do.Â The broad middle is not ready to make felons out of people who work for a living.Â I live in Herndon, ground zero in this debate.Â The issue of illegal immigrants is hot here ever since the town council decided to create a magnet for day workers to hang out and find work.Â The problem was unemployed people massing in large numbers near neighborhoods where they would just hang out all day.Â They never addressed that with the day worker center – they just moved it from one place to the other.Â That is not a guest worker program!Â Note that these people are not working and that is the problem.Â And yes, do not use our tax dollars to promote illegal acts.Â That was adding insult to injury.
You will find large group houses in our neighborhoods that violate our neighborhood bylaws and have traffic in and out of them 24 x 7.Â It takes months to getÂ rid of the excess people if they want to stay in the house.Â This is also not a guest worker program.Â These people need to follow our by-laws and stop overcrowding rentals.
On the flip side, there are many immigrant families who work hard and live in the area and are our neighbors.Â No one is ready to see them rounded up out of their homes and schools.Â No one.Â There are problems, but we don’t want the Police State to come in fully armed and threatening to deal with them at gunpoint.Â We want a better solution. We want a comprehensive solution.
The ‘middle of America’ is much more sophisticated than people realize.Â Check out these poll numbers:
Dowd’s memo says that an internal RNC poll conducted by Jan Van Louhuzen finds that “overwhelming support exists for a temporary worker program. 80% of all voters, 83% of Republicans, and 79% of self-identified conservatives support a temporary worker program as long as immigrants pay taxes and obey the law.”
There is no way 20% of the people on the right make up the American Middle.Â What conservatives risk is alienating the 80% who don’t just oppose their ideas, they viscerally despise them and how they have been communicated (the old ‘you are with us or you are scum’ approach).Â The overheated rhetoric took a really nasty idea like deportation and just made it even uglier.
McIntyre is right, this needs to be handled carefully else all the trust that has been built up over the years convincing people conservatism is not some mean, heartless, ugly variation on the Nazi’s (the favorite spin of liberals) will be lost.
There is a quiet rage building among average middle class folks on the illegal immigration issue, and if the Republican leadership doesn’t take control of the problem very soon they will allow the more extremist wings of the anti-immigration debate to become the face of the Republican party on immigration.
Actually, that has already happened.Â And it is working against the Republicans and Conservatives. Right now I oppose any idea of rounding up people at gunpoint and deporting them so much I would – easily and without a second thought – work to tear down the Republican majorities to avoid that policy.
The Miers fiasco was an early indication of the dark side of conservative mob-think.Â It was all kicked off by David Frum at National Review who clearly had a personal ax to grind against Ms Miers, and a lot of people blindly played along in his vendetta.Â But Frum’s vendetta would never change the face of America.
The Dubai ports fiasco was also driven by fear and ignorance – but this time it was more than someone’s personal issues.Â We successfully insulted the best ally we have in the Middle East and spurned a country that was willing to pay for the installation and use of the most sophisticated cargo screening systems at their ports world wide.Â That would have meant goods coming here would be checked prior to leaving the foreign port.Â That PR disaster pretty much convinced me the conservative movement had run out of gas and was flailing around trying to find something relevant and big to debate.Â And it came very close to impacting us as a nation.
How we treat immigrants (and people in general) is another thing all together.Â That is the essence of America.Â It has been our edge and superiority over the rest of the world.Â We did not treat people differently based on nationality or culture. American’s also never used laws about simple paperwork to disrupt peoples’ lives.Â It takes massive fraud for these so called ‘white collar’ crimes to invoke jail time.
Libertarian conservatives, in the old days, would never reach for a silly number pulled out of Congress’ wide posterior to be the basis to brow beat and harrass people.Â The difference between a legal guest worker and illegal one is where they were in the line to get permission to come here.Â Congress thinks up some number each year, based on absolutely nothing, and declares that the number of immigrant workers we need each year, all year.Â It is abritrary and, like most things out of Congress, totally irrelevant to reality.Â That number separates a person working to raise a family from his neighbor – nothing more.Â That is the basis for be called a law breaker.
That is like saying the first 50 people who speed by a radar trap will be allowed to go free and the remaining will be ticketed to the fullest extent of the law.Â The same actions are legal for those under the number and illegal for those over it.Â And I cannot for the life of me find any reason to deport (or harrass people to the point they are forced to leave) someone based on such a ludicrous thing as this number.
The American people understand there is no simple, magic-bullet solution.Â Conservatives would be wise to stop trying to convince us there is.Â At this point, I am wondering what other descriptive term I can use to describe my political views, since Rep and Con are becoming so tainted that I find it harder and harder to identify myself that way.
I have shunned becoming a Republican (again).Â Reagan and Bush nearly got me to join up. The loud mouths in their parties reminded me why I refute partisanship.Â The ‘follow or else’ mentality in both parties is completely un-American.Â America was supposed to be about ‘work together and find a solution’.Â But cons are now worried that Bush has found some Democratic supporters for his immigration plan.Â If Democratic support is all the conservatives have to wail against, then (a) they are completely out of arguments on the policy and (b) they are heading down the wrong path with Americans.Â Democratic support is no more wrong than Republican support.Â It was OK when we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
America deserves a comprehensive solution to a very complex problem which has been simmering for decades.Â We do not deserve arguments like ‘this cannot be right because they are for it more than we are’.Â We deserve much better than that and we are waiting to see if anyone can deliver.