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Election 2006: Will Worse Be Better For Immigration Reform Patriots?
Over the last twelve months, the patriotic immigration reform movement has shocked the Establishment—defeating a disastrous plan to import 66 million more unskilled immigrants that was backed by the President, the Senate, virtually the entire Mainstream Media, most of the corporate interests, as well as the ethnic lobbies.
We've even forced the Senate to pass and Mr. Bush to sign, grudgingly, a bill authorizing a 700-mile border fence…leaving a mere 1,252 miles unfenced. And that's if the Bush Administration doesn't sabotage the fence, which is a big If. But, hey, you've got to start somewhere.
"Am I crazy, or does he seem not very happy doing it? He slaps down his pen in I-hope-that-keeps-you-happy fashion and gets out of there fast. ..."
You can fast forward to the 1:00 mark of the clip to watch Mr. Bush affix his signature and then practically slam his pen through the top of his desk.)
Nevertheless, for structural reasons, the political environment for patriotic immigration reform is likely to get worse before it gets better.
And 2007 may well be a very difficult year.
Midterm elections tend to be referendums on the President. This one is shaping up to produce a broad rebuke of Mr. Bush's strange grand strategy (" Invade The World—Invite The World—In Hock To The World").
Nor is two-thirds of the Senate that passed last May the abysmal Hagel-Martinez open borders act by a vote of 62-36.
In contrast, every seat in the House of Representatives is at stake. Despite all its other sins, the House has been a rock on immigration, precisely because each Member must face the voters every two years. Republican Representatives know that getting tough on immigration is the best (only?) issue they have to run on.
But, because they are all up for election, House Republicans are the ones most likely to suffer from the expected voter backlash against Mr. Bush.
Thus, as of early Saturday, ten days before the November 7 election, the InTrade betting market gives the GOP only a 36.5 percent chance of retaining control of the House, versus a 72 percent chance of hanging on to the Senate.
Now, anything could happen. But it is quite possible that on the morning of November 8, the White House, the Senate, and the House will all be controlled by elements committed to further opening the borders.
The fix will be in.
If the Republicans lose the House but not the Senate, you can expect to read on November 9 an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Tamar Jacoby, Michael Barone, or both crowing that the loss of the House is a crushing reproach to "nativism" and "xenophobia" and that the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should send up to Mr. Bush for his signature a massive amnesty (excuse me, "earned citizenship") and "guest" worker bill.
In reality, a fine-grained post-election analysis will likely show that without the immigration issue, House GOP members would have suffered a 1974 or 1994-scale blowout.
As an antidote, it's worth dreaming about how strongly Republicans would be doing in 2006 in an alternate universe in which Mr. Bush had, after throwing out the Taliban, prudently stayed out of Iraq and was not in the throes of his weird obsession with erasing the border with Mexico. Even if the rest of Bush's record was just as feckless, merely removing the open wound of Iraq and letting the GOP run a unified campaign against illegal immigration this fall would mean that the Republicans would be cruising to victory right now.
But don't expect any realism or nuance from the press. The same media myth-making machinery that concocted the current conventional wisdom that Pete Wilson ruined the GOP in California in 1994 by running against illegal immigration and that George H.W. Bush's Willie Horton ad in 1988 was racist would soon enshrine the WSJ-line as the orthodox interpretation of why the GOP lost the House.
Yet, even with the loss of the House, all will not be lost.
- First, on November 8, Mr. Bush wakes up an extremely lame duck. Politically, he's history.
- Second, while on paper it might look like the President's beloved "comprehensive immigration reform" will sail through a Congress where Pelosi is Speaker and the Senate is already on record favoring the admission of scores of millions more unskilled immigrants, there will be zero mandate for it. Nobody is running this fall on letting in 66 million people and lots of candidates are running against it.
- Third, it will be possible to persuade (i.e., intimidate by the likelihood of defeat in 2008) enough House Democrats to break ranks with Pelosi to keep a bad border bill from passing. It won't be easy, but it can be done.
- Fourth, if the Open Borders lobby tries to use its flukish and likely short-lived domination of Washington to shove through the second coming of the Hagel-Martinez bill, it will more fully demonstrate to America that it is merely an opportunistic coalition of special interests that deserves defeat. As I was informed when I underwent chemotherapy back in 1997, when the cancer hunkers down and doesn't try to grow, it's hard to beat. But when it comes out and tries to take over, it's easier to wipe out completely.
- Fifth, if the immigration restriction movement can save America from a Bush-Pelosi invite-the-world law, we will emerge from this ordeal even stronger than we are now.
- Sixth, from this cauldron of debate over immigration, better 2008 Presidential candidates are likely to emerge than the dismal crop of contenders we appear stuck with now. In particular, a Democratic bill would finally unleash the natural inclination of the Republican Party to oppose national (and its own) dissolution.
In summary: in recent weeks the risk of a disaster on a historic scale—i.e., legislation of the Hagel-Martinez ilk being signed into law by President Bush as his vengeance on the nation that has rejected him—has worsened.
Yet so has the chance that we will eventually emerge from this struggle with a Congress and a President that will finally do what needs to be done to preserve America.
For immigration reformers, it may prove that, in words commonly attributed to Lenin, worse is indeed better.