Are the Republicans capable of being the majority party? Are their views too narrow and self serving? I did not think so when I voted for George Bush, but some of the rhetoric I have heard during the course of the immigration debate has made me wonder.
Fred Barnes lays out the stakes in the upcoming election:
PRESIDENT BUSH AND REPUBLICANS are staring political disaster in the face on immigration. The problem isn't that they might enact a bill allowing illegal immigrants living in America to earn their way to citizenship, inviting foreign workers to come here, and beefing up security on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. No, it would be a disaster for Republicans if they didn't pass such a bill.
Rarely has the American public been so involved in a national issue as they are today in immigration reform. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody agrees there's a crisis when, as is the case today, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are streaming across our southern border and millions more are already living in this country. The public expects action from the people who run Washington--that's Bush and Republicans. But action is not what they will get if the enforcement-only House refuses to compromise. What they will get in that case is an impasse. And that means the crisis endures.
The American people are not on the side of the House Republicans who favor toughened enforcement and nothing more. On the contrary, a national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program. But there's a wrinkle in the Senate. Democrats are certain to filibuster legislation consisting solely of enforcement. So it can't pass. However, their constituency groups, particularly immigrant groups, won't permit Democrats to block a comprehensive bill. So it, and only it, can
pass in the Senate.
Once the Senate approves an all-inclusive bill, House Republicans will have a decision to make. Will they accept a broader bill, even if it contains what they consider to be amnesty for illegals, or will they insist on the enforcement-only approach they took in the measure they passed in the House last December?
But if they persist in holding out, immigration reform may die.There's a wrinkle in the House, too. Immigration reform may be killed altogether unless a majority of Republicans backs a broader bill. Why? Because House Republican leaders don't want to be put in the politically awkward position of relying on Democrats to approve a comprehensive bill--
Governing requires compromise, and it also requires seeing beyond one's narrow perspective. I am beginning to wonder if Republicans are capable of that. In the last few weeks I have heard conservative Republicans come up with conspiracy theories concerning Bush's plans to all but cede the southwest to Mexico which are every bit as insane as are the theories concerning government involvement in 9/11. They both refelct a lunatic fringe which when combined make up a disquieting number of people.
Governance is not about being the opposition, it is about leading and creating a consensus and developing compromise solutions. When Republicans like Peggy Noonan start talking about masterminding their own defeat for some larger victory down the road, are they really saying they don't have what it takes to get the job done? When the comment sections of conservative blogs are full of invective for any Republican, including the president, who would even consider a compromise are the Republicans once again proving to the world that they are the stupid party?