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Thursday, July 11, 2013
It is rare in these days of confrontational politics that one party gives a gift to the other party. But that is what happened in June when Senate Democrats (along with 14 Republicans) approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill and shipped it over to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
It is July, and all that the House Republicans have to decide is whether to accept this gift — one of redemption for a party that is perceived as being hostile to various racial and ethnic groups — or continue to rule itself out of winning any future leases on the White House.
A no-brainer, you say, for a party that lost 71 percent of the Latino vote and 73 percent of the Asian-American vote in the 2012 presidential election, not to mention rejection by more than 90 percent of African-American voters in most elections. But don’t underestimate House Republicans, especially those from safe districts who have little interest in casting votes that don’t directly concern their constituents. And we all know where most Latinos live. Not in Republican districts. So why go along with the Senate?
House Speaker John Boehner said that he will not bring any measure to the floor that does not have the support of at least half of the Republican caucus. Care for a translation? Do what comes naturally for elephants, sit back on your hind legs and do nothing, take no stand, just smile for your picture on the GOP label of the “Brand of No.” Unless, of course, a donkey kicks the elephant and it has to follow the lead of the Democratic Party.
What a way to run a major political party, one better suited to being the loyal opposition than governing. Is it any wonder why it is being locked out of the White House?
As a conservative, these are difficult words to write. But there comes a time when sticking to one’s principles doesn’t quite give you the satisfaction of being governed by those same principles. It’s no fun to constantly finish second in a country where being No. 1 seems to be all that matters.
The Republican Party has flunked two basic rules of politics. First, politics is the art of the possible. It is not possible to secure our borders to the degree most Republicans wish. And it is certainly not possible to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, give or take a million or two. The second is the Bill Buckley rule that the best conservatives are the ones who get elected. To assume otherwise is to deal yourself out of a hand at governing.
This all brings us to the House of Representatives point man for considering the Senate’s immigration bill: Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chair of its Judiciary Committee.
Goodlatte is in a position of leadership on a major piece of domestic legislation, one that better secures our borders, creates a reasonable path to citizenship, brings in skilled workers and adds to our GDP. But does that mean Goodlatte will lead? Past performance says he will not.
Goodlatte is now in his 11th term in Congress, a tenure that may have clouded his vision to see beyond the needs of Virginia’s 6th Congressional District. The fact that leading Republicans such as Jeb Bush, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with Democrats Chuck Schumer, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner support the Senate bill doesn’t seem to be his major concern.
Recently, The Roanoke Times’ David Ress reported on the congressman’s visit to the district. Goodlatte was back in town to talk about his efforts to reduce federal mandates regarding ethanol in gasoline — not immigration. I guess corn is a less explosive subject than what to do with all those illegal immigrants living elsewhere.
The established Republican managed to duck the hot issue by telling reporter Ress that illegal immigrants aren’t all the same, that there should be various pathways to U. S. citizenship and that the Senate bill isn’t perfect. Agree. Agree. Agree. And that he doesn’t plan to act on the Senate bill. Disagree.
There is another rule of politics that must be mentioned here, one that commands respect from voters, even when agreement is lacking. It is a simple rule, one to live by: In attempting to please everyone, you invariably end up pleasing no one.
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