Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Immigration and leadership

Pundits and politicians always talk about leadership, which, last I checked, isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. It’s the word we use instead of statesmanship and/or citizenship, both of which imply standards to which the political actors should be held. Leadership is more Nietzschean, focusing on things like will, resoluteness, and courage, and implying that anything other than movement is the equivalent of death.

All of this is just an elaborate way of introducing the highly conventional analysis in this article about the apparent failure of comprehensive immigration reform: if the situation demands action, and we don’t do something, anything, why, that must be a failure of leadership. In our constitutional regime, something this big ought to be hard. It’s not about leadership simply, but also about building a consensus for action. And consensus-building requires the kind of trust (that, for example, people will do what they say about securing the border) that hasn’t yet been credibly established. I’d hate to have a "leadership success" now that just creates more problems down the road, especially if the problems are as easily foreseen as the ones inherent in this measure are. Someone who "leads" here fails the test of statesmanship, because all that would have been accomplished is the comforting appearance of doing something, without taking the even harder measures necessary to make sure that that "something" would actually resemble what had been promised.

Discussions - 8 Comments

The Post editorial is written in bad faith and demonstrates a fundamental animus toward the American political process. This outrageous lie about the failure of Kennedy-McCain serves as a good example of the dishonesty of the article:

But together it added up to another example of a polarized political system in which the center could not hold.

No, in fact the "center," is lukewarm about amnesty, doesn't want a European style guest worker/permanent-underclass program, and does want real border security.

Under the guise of analysis the Post then menaces DC thusly: The collective failure of the two parties already appears to have stimulated interest in a third-party candidate for president in 2008 ... someone such as New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ...

After the patently lunatic threat of a prairie fire Michael Bloomberg campaign (!!!), this hilarity:

No one ever believed that passing comprehensive changes in immigration law would be easy. As McCain said in Tuesday's Republican debate in New Hampshire, "It's our job to do the hard things, not the easy things." But for a long time, Washington politicians have flinched at the hard things...

More outrageous lies, of course. After they hashed this bill out in secret, McCain and his friends tried to make this as "easy" for themselves as possible - they tried to cram it down the American people's throats in 4 days (counting the weekend), deliberately leaving no time for anyone to read it. That is making "hard" political choices? McCain/Kennedy backers tried to drain the politics out of this entirely and govern by fiat. This is apparently is what the Washington Post wants:

If there is no attempt to revive the immigration bill, the issue will become fodder throughout the long campaign ahead. Already it is shaping the Republican presidential debate, with McCain on one side and his leading opponents on the other

Translation: "Why can't McCain embody the General Will and lead? Why can't someone silence these Yahoo voters? Imagine! a major item of proposed legislation becoming an issue in a presidential primary, so that any yahoo in the street can discuss it!"

As Jean Raspail said in Camp of the Saints, "the best conservative book ever written," a third-world invasion of the West is taking place. We can stand firm and expel the invading third-world hordes, or we can watch the West crumble. Unfortunately, many of our leaders have sided with the third-world invaders against their fellow Americans. Business leaders want to flood the U.S. economy with third-world hordes to drive down wages, and multiculturalists want the slow and eventual extermination of Euro-Americans. We are in the twilight of Western man. Stand up and fight, or witness our own destruction. This is the greatest event of our age. What we need in the U.S. are some REAL conservative parties, like the Front National and British National Party in Europe. These parties are conservative in the true sense of the word: they want to conserve western man and his ancestral traditions.

Can't add anything to your wonderfully astute statement, Joe.

Fine post, Joe. I assume your opening paragraph was a tacit invocation of Bob Eden's wonderful book "Political Leadership and Nihilism"?

Very tacit, as I have the argument largely by osmosis.

The attempted media spin on this seems to be 180 degrees off. Far from the bill being defeated by a handful of extremists against the wishes of the noble center, this Gallup poll indicates that it was disliked by independents more than by Republicans or Democrats. Although all three groups opposed the bill.

There's another problem present here.

If this cram down had proven successful, it would have provided precedent for how to handle future contentious issues. So instead of the Senate being a place to slow down difficult and contentious legislation, to allow the people and their representatives time to digest what's occurring, and what's being proposed, the Senate would become a place where backroom deals make sure that the amendment process is short circuited, and as Senator Thune described it, that the "fix [is] in." THEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN for the House of Representatives to provide the brakes to slow down passage of such bills, and to allow the people effective oversight.

This bill REVERSED THE ROLES of the Houses of Congress. It was the Senate that tried to ram things through without regard for the minority. That's what we're accustomed to seeing in the House of Representatives. And what's more, the President of the United States instead of warning against such a reversal of roles, applauded it, welcomed it as a shining example of the "bipartisan spirit" that he wanted to bring to Washington.

This was truly an OMINOUS harbinger of what was to come.

That's why I said the other night that the defeat of this bill was the SINGLE greatest legislative accomplishment of my lifetime.

This was going to become the bipartisan model for how other difficult issues would be handled. And anyone who complained about the new legislative order, or critiqued it, would be denounced as "partisan" and would be decried as "trying to drag us back to the ways of the bitter political past."

This bill was a complete, Bush sponsored nightmare.

I have to agree with Dan. Not only on this bill, the Senate has become the place for radical and irrational ideas to grow and fester. Look at the insane Native Hawaiian Act for more of the same. The Senate now needs to be checked by the more sensible and pragmatic House.

The Senate is populated mostly by rich people. Regardless of what prior generations of conservatives may have believed, the rich are radical, not conservative.

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