Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Stupid Party Tries to Live Up to its Name

The Republican Party is sometimes referred to by despairing friends and gleeful foes as the "Stupid Party," a pejorative that goes back to the 19th century British philosopher John Stuart Mill who used it as a description of the conservatives of his day. I was reminded of the unfortunate appellation when reading news reports that the Republican leadership, in their apparent lemming-like eagerness to commit political suicide, are inexplicably pushing for an immigration bill this year. It has political observers shaking their heads. As Quin Hillyer writes at NRO:
Drudge led this morning with multitudinous reports about the House Republican leadership’s determination to push forward this year with major immigration reform, apparently mostly at the behest of big-business executives. And now Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is weighing in, saying there is a “general consensus that something big has to happen.”

What sort of bubble is Priebus living in? The only general consensus to that effect is among the more leftist groups of the Latino lobby, the corporate chieftains, and the academic Left. Nobody would accuse Priebus, or John Boehner or Paul Ryan, of consorting with the first and third of those groups, but their coziness with the second group lends credence to the Left’s generations-long charge that the GOP is the party of corporate whoredom.

Now, that may not be a fair charge across the board, but this bizarre push for immigration reform, at a time when the Democrats are on the run on Obamacare and desperately want to change the subject, certainly lends itself to that interpretation.
There are a number of reasons, of course, why both Republicans and Democrats want amnesty and de facto open borders. The Democrats want them because they see the potential hordes of poor immigrants as natural Democrats once they gain citizenship, which won't take long, and Republicans, or at least the "fat cat" wing of the party, want them because they see immigrants as a sea of cheap labor.

Inconveniently for the Republican leadership, Speaker Boehner and Majority Whip Cantor, the vast bulk of the rank and file do not want it. Hillyer again:
The Buchananite Right is against doing immigration reform this year. National Review’s editors are against it. William Kristol is against it. Unions have historically opposed the idea — and most union and non-union laborers other than the illegals themselves still do. The Heritage Foundation is against it. Most conservative grassroots activists groups are against it. The always-wise Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is against it. The talk radio hosts are against it. Leading conservative (and centrist) bloggers — Michelle Malkin, and the folks at RedState, and Mickey Kaus — are against it. The libertarian Jack Kemp disciple Deroy Murdock is against it. Polls consistently show the public as a whole ranks immigration reform way down the list of priorities. Polls consistently show that most Republican voters oppose any immigration reform that doesn’t require [that we] absolutely secure our borders before any other reforms are considered. And the experience of President George W. Bush’s attempt at reform, which split the Republican party so badly that it played a big role in causing the loss of Congress in 2006, argues heavily against it.

If the House leadership wants its members to have their phone lines jammed with angry callers, their e-mail inboxes full of furious messages, their town meetings featuring absolutely toxic atmospheres, and (if anything actually is signed into law) their voters stay home in droves in November, then the leadership will continue to pursue this idea.

Or they could back off from immigration reform, focus on Obamacare, offer free-market fixes for the health-care system, and sail to victory in the fall. Seems like an easy choice to me.
The biggest problem with an immigration bill, or any legislation, for that matter, is that enforcement depends upon the willingness of the chief executive to apply the law. Barack Obama has demonstrated that he'll enforce only those laws that are to his liking, and few Republicans trust him to enforce any law that requires strong border security. Thus, any bill that does not place border security first and predicate everything else upon it, is bound to stir up a revolt in the party and trigger mass defections from it.

The ability of Congress to get things done requires trust between the parties. Sadly, nothing can get done in the current Washington climate largely because the President's repeated dissimulations and scandals have eroded all confidence among his political opponents that he can be counted on to keep his word.

Anyway, for those interested in a common sense approach to the issue of immigration reform Mark Krikorian has a fine piece at National Review.

By the way, an amusing story was once told of a congressional staffer who was trying to explain the American political system to a Russian counterpart. He explained to his colleague that there were two political parties in Washington — the stupid party and the evil party. Every once in a while the stupid party and the evil party get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. In Washington, that's called bipartisanship.