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June 26, 2007

Prima Facie Evidence of Corruption

Stanley Kurtz at the Corner has the feeling that this vote exposes something ugly in American politics:

Something about this immigration battle doesnít sit well. For all the bitterness of our political battles, thereís at least the sense that the government responds to the drift of public opinion. The Republicans in Congress turned into big spenders and the war in Iraq went poorly. As a result the Democrats prospered in 2006, if narrowly. Thatís how democracy works. Our politics are often angry and ugly (and thatís a problem), but this is because the public is deeply divided on issues of great importance. Deep down, we understand that our political problems reflect our own divisions.

Somehow this immigration battle feels different. The bill is wildly unpopular, yet itís close to passing. The contrast with the high-school textbook version of democracy is not only glaring and maddening, itís downright embarrassing. Usually, even when weíre at each othersí throats, thereís still an underlying pride in the democratic process. This immigration battle strips us of even that pride.

Iím still stuck on the way this bill was going to be pushed through without a public airing of crucial provisions, in the two or three days before Memorial Day recess. But I should be stuck even further backĖon the way this bill was cooked up in a backroom deal that bypassed the ordinary process of public hearings. We take them for granted, but those civics textbook fundamentals are there for a reason. Weíre going to pay a steep price for setting the fundamentals aside.

Senators who believe that by passing this bill they will at least be getting a divisive issue out of the way are making a serious mistake. This is not 1986. The immigration issue is far more prominent now, and it will only grow in importance. Demographics, and the problems of assimilation in a globalized world of satellite dishes and easy travel will see to that. Look at how votes on the war have come back to haunt Democratic politicians. Votes by legislators of both parties on this bill will be haunting themĖand all of usĖfor years to come.

Supporters of this bill sell it as a compromise that will heal Americaís divisions. I fear itís quite the reverse. This bill is infuriating the public and undermining faith in government itself. You can see it in the polling on confidence in Congress and the President. If this bill passes, itís going to aggravate and embitter politics for years to come. Passing a measure over such overwhelming opposition is like slapping the public in the face.

Indeed. While I've been on the losing side of many votes, I always understood why: They public wasn't with me. There were politicians who pushed the position I liked, but in the end too few of them, as the great majority of Congressmen followed majority public opinion.

Not this time. Not this time.

Why is that, precisely?


Instapunk... has been asking what precisely is behind this for some time.


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posted by Ace at 12:58 PM

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