from the Congress Action newsletter

Not Amnesty

by: Kim Weissman
January 11, 2004

President Bush has managed to anger both the left and the right with his new plan to reward illegal aliens, euphemistically called “undocumented workers”. Conservatives are angry because he seems to be turning a blind eye to lawbreakers and using the federal treasury to transfer taxpayer money to criminals. Leftists are angry because Bush has taken away another one of their issues, and they are complaining that Bush is only advancing his plan to pander to special interests in an election year. And of course we all know that leftists and democrats never pander to special interests in an election year.

The particulars of the Bush plan will be elucidated in excruciating detail elsewhere, and will no doubt be debated endlessly. The proposal is, at this point, just that – a proposal – and far from becoming law. But before the right becomes too hysterical about what they think they know about the plan, perhaps they should consider this: Both the radical leftist group La Raza and the radical leftist Senator Teddy Kennedy are infuriated by the plan. Anything that receives the condemnation of both La Raza and Ted Kennedy can’t be all bad.

Consider the following commentary from one conservative group:

“President Bush's treacherous proposal to grant amnesty (legal status!) for millions of criminal illegal aliens could very well backfire at the voting booth in November. Karl Rove, Bush's senior advisor, has insulted conservative and Republican voters (Bush's key base of support) by claiming they have no where else to go. Wrong!! 2004 could be reminiscent of 1996 – which was the lowest voter turnout in American history since the 1920s – because many GOP voters stayed home and were not excited about Bob Dole. While it is unthinkable that GOP voters would cast a vote for any Democrat since all the Democrat nominees also support amnesty, we predict that many of them may just sit out this election (or vote third party) since President Bush has now given them one really good reason to not even vote.”

Well, sitting out the 1996 election really showed them, didn’t it? It gave us four more years of Bill Clinton! Thank you very much! And now conservatives are threatening to really to show Karl Rove and the Republican Party by sitting out 2004, so we’ll end up with Howard Dean or Wesley Clark or President Hillary Clinton – yeah, that’ll really show ‘em!

After all, we must stand on principle, mustn’t we? Regardless of the consequences?

During the debates in the Constitutional Convention in 1787, some of the delegates were reluctant to abandon the Articles of Confederation altogether (as most admitted would be required, if republican government were to survive) and design an entirely new structure of government (our present Constitution), on the grounds that the commissions from their respective states did not contemplate and thus did not authorize such a radical change – they thought that they were duty-bound to stand on principle, by a limited reading of their authority, regardless of the consequences. To which Edmund Randolph (a delegate from Virginia) responded, “When the salvation of the Republic was at stake, it would be treason to our trust, not to propose what we found necessary.” George Mason (another Virginia delegate) added, “…there were, besides, certain crises in which all the ordinary cautions yielded to public necessity”, and he cited the example of those who negotiated the peace treaty with Great Britain, who “disregarded the improvident shackles” placed by Congress on their authority, “had given to their Country an honorable and happy peace” and “had raised to themselves a monument more durable than brass.” There were far bigger issues at stake – as there are now.

Can conservatives please grow up and stop acting like spoiled brats, and stop threatening to burn down the entire house every time they don’t get every single toy they want under the Christmas tree? Politics, like life itself, is rarely the attainment of perfection, especially when the definition of “perfection” is itself a moving target depending on who’s doing the defining. You do the best you can with what you’re given. Is any conservative or republican really willing to say that 4 more years of Bush would be worse than 4 (or 8) years of Dean or Clark or Kerry or – Hillary Clinton?

Temper tantrums aside, may we digress a moment to take a look at the larger picture here? By what constitutional authority does the federal government take money from U.S. citizens and transfer it to criminal aliens? Obviously, there is none. And speaking about illegality, what ever happened to that constitutional mandate that the president “shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed”? Yet this is what happens when we abandon the restraints contained in the Constitution. Once those limits are gone there are no limits at all, the floodgates are open, and pandering to special interests is simply a matter of power – who has the power to give away the store faster.

Neither party has any great claim to being defenders of the Constitution (although it took the left to come up with the novel idea of a “living” Constitution that changes to mean whatever some judge says it means at any point in time, and which may mean something entirely different tomorrow), and both parties evade and ignore the Constitution as it suits them. But the Constitution is not like one of those old Chinese restaurant menus where you can choose one from Column A and one from Column B and ignore what you don’t like. You either have a Constitution or you do not – and for many decades now, the reality has been that we do not. And now we profess to be shocked – shocked – that Bush would resort to the same sort of political calculations designed to win votes which democrats have used for decades! The fault for allowing any of our politicians to ignore the strictures of the Constitution lies with us, for re-electing them despite their unconstitutional acts. But does it really make sense to suddenly “get religion” now, with all that’s at stake?

We face far larger problems in this country than the latest attempts to pander for votes – whether the votes of Hispanics through the new illegal immigrant proposal, or of seniors through the prescription drug entitlement. Or are conservatives so bent on standing on principle that they would do so even when the fate of the Republic is at stake?

Huge numbers of people still believe that everything they see on the network news and everything they read in the New York Times is accurate and true. Huge numbers believe that anyone who earns a dollar more than they do is “rich” and should pay more taxes – no matter how disproportionate the tax burden on those “rich” already is. Huge numbers of people, numbers which are growing ever larger as constitutional and economic ignorance increases, believe that the role of government is to provide them with everything they want, and that private companies are cash-cows to be milked to pay for all those things – and then they are mystified why those same companies aren’t hiring new employees or providing new, gold-plated benefits for the people whom they already employ; or are moving overseas to escape punitive taxation, extortionate demands by trial lawyers and extremist environmentalists, and vilification by sleazy politicians.

And significant numbers of people still think that they have a right to dictate how other people should live their lives (imposed by government force if necessary), yet who gleefully call anyone who disagrees with them a Nazi; people who think that George Bush and John Ashcroft are bigger threats to this country than Saddam Hussein was and Osama bin Laden is; who think that the Boy Scouts are more dangerous than al Qaeda; and who believe that the greatest threats to the future of freedom in this nation are people who talk about religion in public (unless they’re democrats trying to fool people into voting for them) or display the Ten Commandments. These are the people and the philosophies conservatives will reward if they give vent to their temper tantrums against Bush.

Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and John Kerry are popular with large segments of the population only in part because of their hate-Bush rhetoric, but more dangerously they are popular because far too many people believe that national sovereignty is an outmoded idea that must be made subservient to the tin-pot tyrants who dominate the United Nations and the bureaucrats who run the European Union.

Hillary Clinton isn’t popular with a large segment of the population because – just why is Hillary so popular, anyway? Perhaps because far too many people like her government-is-the-answer-to-every question, global-village totalitarian streak. Dennis Kucinich isn’t popular with a certain segment of the population because of his alleged boyish charm, but because he espouses a philosophy of socialism that many people find appealing, despite the evidence of the history of socialism whenever and wherever it’s been tried (a history of which that same segment of the population is totally ignorant, thanks to like-minded college professors). Al Sharpton isn’t popular with a certain segment of the population because he does a creditable imitation of James Brown, but because far too many people have accepted the America-is-evil philosophy espoused by the race-hustlers on the left. Carol Moseley-Braun isn’t popular because of her record in Congress, but because of the big-government nanny-state ideology she espouses.

Fortunately, neither Kucinich nor Sharpton (and certainly not Moseley-Braun) are popular enough with enough people to be dangerous, at least not in this election; but the ideologies they tout and the philosophies in which they believe are extraordinarily dangerous to the future of this nation, and those ideologies remain all too popular. These are the long-term problems that this nation faces.

We are still at war, against an implacable enemy bent on the total destruction of this nation. We are still the primary target – not the United Nations, not France or Germany or Russia or European Union bureaucrats in Brussels. That enemy, as one cogent analyst (in the New York Times, of all places) observed, is even more dangerous than the Soviet Union was during the Cold War, because,

“As dangerous as the Soviet Union was, it was always deterrable with a wall of containment and with nukes of our own. Because, at the end of the day, the Soviets loved life more than they hated us. Despite our differences, we agreed on certain bedrock rules of civilization. With the Islamist militant groups, we face people who hate us more than they love life. When you have large numbers of people ready to commit suicide, and ready to do it by making themselves into human bombs, using the most normal instruments of daily life – an airplane, a car, a garage door opener, a cell phone, fertilizer, a tennis shoe – you create a weapon that is undeterrable, undetectable and inexhaustible. This poses a much more serious threat than the Soviet Red Army…”.

That war will not be won, that enemy will not be defeated, by subsuming our national defense to the United Nations (Dean, Clark, and Kerry), or by treating attacks against this nation as crimes to be prosecuted in American courtrooms (the Dean idea, which is the same failed approach pursued for eight years by the Clinton administration) or by pre-emptive surrender and abject apologies (Kucinich), or by giving in to more blackmail by North Korea (Hillary might revive her husband’s dangerous foreign policy in that area).

That war will not be won if petulant conservatives “just sit out this election” and hand victory to Dean, Clark, Kerry, or Hillary. Sitting out the 1996 election might well have handed victory to Bill Clinton, who did enough damage to this nation. His refusal to fully engage in a war that the other side had openly declared and was openly fighting, despite the World Trade Center bombing and the Mogadishu ambush in 1993, the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1995, the two U.S. embassies in Africa blown up in 1998, and the attack against the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, might indeed have encouraged that enemy to think they could get away with striking us here at home on September 11, 2001 with few consequences. But we are now, finally, fully engaged in an open war with that enemy.

Dare we, under these circumstances, give vent to temper tantrums against Bush, and thereby risk a return to the failed policies of the last decade? The salvation of the Republic is at stake.

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.

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14 jan 2004