James Sensenbrenner's hotly contested immigration bill is only the latest in a long line of public displays of conservative bitterness. Like spoiled children being asked to share for the first time Republicans debate through tantrum and pass one-sided legislation without engaging in anything resembling diplomacy.
There's no doubt that illegal immigration is an issue that this country needs to address. With jobs being outsourced at an alarming pace, big corporations threatening to cut thousands of jobs over the next few years and the cost of education rocketing upward, it only makes sense to ensure that the dwindling employment opportunities are preserved for U.S. Citizens. The fact is illegal immigration artificially keeps wages down and has effectively created a serf class of laborers in this country who are willing to accept an appallingly low standard of living.
Unfortunately there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing it. The right way would include reaching out to the Hispanic community and drafting an amicable resolution. The ham-handed manner in which Sensenbrenner attacked the issue galvanized the Hispanic community and has once again polarized this country.
But this is nothing new. Back in June of 2005, Sensenbrenner threw a tantrum during a meeting where Democrats and Republicans were discussing the Patriot Act. When the judiciary Democrats brought up issues concerning the Iraq war and Guantanamo Bay, Sensenbrenner halted the meeting and ordered the court reporter out of the room and then shut off the C-Span cameras.
This sort of behavior has become typical of the Republican Party. This my way or the highway attitude might have started with the conservative pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, but it has permeated through the rest of the party. Even moderate Republicans who meekly question the uber-conservative wing of the party are thrown under the bus and characterized as RINO's.
The previous two presidential elections were close contests and the final results of each remain questionable. What sets the past two elections apart, however, is not the margin of victory or the controversies surrounding them, but how bitterly divided the two sides were. The Republican Party is not enjoying a mandate, but rather a very narrow advantage in a hostile political climate. One would think that such a bitter divide would call for the party in power to reach across the aisle and try to find a little common ground, but that has not been the case. In fact, the opposite is true. Instead of seeking middle ground and engaging in some healthy diplomacy, the Republican party has embraced the totalitarian concepts espoused by the far right. Republicans only see things in black and white. There's simply no compromise on any issue.
Recently, Republicans have embraced religious zealots who seek to impose Christian theocracy on the country through the passage of laws that violate basic civil rights. The party refuses to distance itself from pundits who spread a message of hatred and intolerance. When Bill Bennett aired a hypothetical commentary about how aborting black babies would reduce the crime rate, Republicans dismissed it as an unfortunate remark. When Rush Limbaugh spouts his own version of encoded bigotry, nothing is done to distance the party from it.
The fact is that the Republican Party is the white man's party. They assumed that position in the 1960's when Democrats alienated their Southern constituents with the passage of Civil Rights legislation. Seeing an opportunity to steal votes, the Republican Party retooled itself as the party of the god-fearing white Christian.
Republicans take the simple argument on every issue. Everything is a 101 level class. The Economy, Sociology, Foreign Relations. In the Republican world it is all 101. Unfortunately life is a little more complex than the 101 class. In fact, that's why colleges offer such a variety of advanced classes in each curriculum.
This over-simplified view of reality is exactly why things are such a mess right now. The war in Iraq is the direct result of applying 101 logic to a 301 situation. Republicans are quick to accuse the UN of failing, but as a permanent member of the Security Council aren't we to blame? The fact is the UN only works if the US allows it to. When Bush went to the UN with a proposal for war the UN balked. So Bush threw a tantrum, called the UN names and started a war anyway. Who failed whom?
Internally, the massive protests over the immigration bill is the result of Sensenbrenner's failure to reach out to the Hispanic community. His bill has stirred up a vocal minority of angry white people who have turned the immigration bill into a racial epithet, screaming for those who embrace their Mexican heritage to pack up and leave. Has the Republican Party tried to distance themselves from this? No. They encourage it.
Michelle Malkin recently accused the Hispanic demonstrators of being racist. This observation was gleaned from the fact that many of the demonstrators are waving Mexican flags and chanting "Brown Power." Sadly Malkin, like most conservatives, just doesn't grasp what racism really is. Showing a little ethnic pride is not racist. Nobody accused the Irish of being racist when they marched around the country a few weeks ago to celebrate Saint Patrick's day. They had Irish flags and chanted slogans as well.
Racism is when you discriminate against somebody because of their race. A Racist might take pride in his or her heritage but what makes them a true racist is the desire to place their race in a position of superiority. That's the difference between "brown power" and "white power." Unfortunately people like Michelle Malkin and most of the Republicans in congress are smart enough to recognize that. They just choose to be obtuse because it's easier to embrace the simplicity of being wrong. You can't reason with them because they choose to abandon reason.