We have now reached the point where nobody can deny the current wave of media coverage of the immigration issue is nothing more than political theater managed by the White House, regardless of your position on the issue of immigration. (My own opinion is summarized at the end of this column.)
The immigration campaign is the central front in a desperate attempt by the electoral Mandarins in the White House to maintain power in the House of Representatives in November and to distract from the much more important issue of the Bush Administration’s assault against the Bill of Rights.
I can tell there are some skeptics out there who refuse to believe that the immigration debate is nothing more than stage-managed political theater. But don’t you think that if President Bush were inclined to enforce the borders, that he would already have done so without congressional legislation?
President Bush is on record as saying that he wants Congress to pass immigration legislation, telling a Texas gathering on August 3 that "I expect the United States Congress to do its duty and pass comprehensive immigration reform." But does the President really believe he needs Congress to pass more legislation, giving him more powers, in order to enforce our border laws?
Remember, this is the same President who claims to have the power to nullify congressional law through "signing statements." And can we really believe a president who asserts the arbitrary right to detain anyone indefinitely can’t lock up illegal aliens? Bush claims the power to ship terrorist suspects for torture to hellholes such as Syria, Uzbekistan, Egypt and Morocco, but then says he lacks the legal authority to send immigrants back to Mexico or Central America. And this is same President who engages in electronic surveillance against virtually every American who now says it’s impractical to find illegal aliens to deport.
Yeah, that’s a credible scenario…. If you are tripping on LSD.
Otherwise, you don’t have an excuse.
Right now, the President’s "border security" initiatives are moderately less successful than the left’s "war on poverty" in the 1960s or the ongoing "war on drugs." If a local policeman finds an illegal alien, the standard Department of Homeland Security response is still to tell the local official to let them go.
But the "tough" House version of the immigration legislation would force the Bush Administration to enforce the borders, some "conservative" activists counter.
Let’s assume the delusional scenario that the Senate (already on record against the House version) and the President (also on record against the House legislation) decide to allow the legislation to be enacted. What evidence do we have that the President would enforce this new law, especially since he is already not enforcing the laws on the books and believes he can nullify laws at will with a "signing statement"?
Apparently, some people still believe the President will suddenly abandon past practice and apply a newfound respect for the law if the House version of the immigration legislation is enacted.
I just have one question: Are these the same people who think professional wrestling is real?
The professional wrestling analogy is probably apt, considering professional wrestling is a bush league version of theater and the Bush team is engaging is a tremendous amount of overproduced theater in the current immigration debate.
Here’s the political backdrop to this electoral theater. The Republicans run the very real risk of losing the House of Representatives to Democrats in November, and the White House can’t afford to have pesky Democrats investigating his surveillance state, his denial of trial to American citizens and torture. The immigration issue — and the "tough" House version of pending legislation — allows House Republicans to run against the increasingly unpopular President Bush, whose polling numbers have fallen to record lows and who is widely reported to be hurting Republicans running for Congress. Continued Republican control of the House of Representatives can only be manufactured with GOP congressmen running "against" the White House. This is the current strategy of choice among House Republicans.
A key part of this political theater is the 21 hearings the House Republicans planned this month on immigration in several key swing districts. "They are very deliberately planned," outgoing Republican Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona told the New York Times. "[T]hey believe that this translates into votes in the base."
There are probably a few people out there reading this, who are saying out loud: "What’s wrong with the Republicans trying to keep power over the much worse Democrats?"
The simple answer is that it distracts from the most important freedom issue before the nation right now: saving the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself.
How does it do that?
Indulge me for a few sentences while I explain how I came into the conservative movement. I started as a conservative because I blamed Jimmy Carter for taking the tip money from my newspaper route (by inflating the currency). But what really motivated me in politics was opposition to communism, which stamped out freedom with a totalitarian police state. Soviet Russia was an expansionist totalitarian state where a person could disappear without trial, get tortured, sent to a concentration camp, and perhaps killed — after the KGB conducted warrantless surveillance on its victims. That kind of Soviet Communism was the very definition of totalitarianism that I opposed. But, I learned, in the United States we have a guarantee of a right to trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment, the protection against "cruel and unusual punishments" in the Eighth Amendment, and protection against warrantless searches in the Fourth Amendment. So those things can’t happen here.
Yet Soviet-style totalitarianism as I’ve just defined is also precisely the kind of totalitarianism — the disappearing victims and concentration camps, the torture, and surveillance state — that the Bush Administration has introduced to the United States. The Bush Administration has astonishingly claimed the power to imprison a suspect even if he is exonerated by a court! Even Stalin didn’t go that far.
I grew up in the era when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for my entire lifetime, and therefore viewed the ascendancy of the Republicans to power on the election night of 1994 as the attainment of political Nirvana. But the simple truth is that I was wrong. With several noble exceptions, such as Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the Republicans have become worse than the Democrats by backing Bush’s attack on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
The great old right author John T. Flynn said it so well:
"We will not recognize [American totalitarianism] as it rises. It will wear no black shirts here. It will probably have no marching songs. It will rise out of a congealing of a group of elements that exist here and that are the essential components of Fascism…It will be at first decorous, humane, glowing with homely American sentiment."
In America, totalitarianism has begun to grow under the auspices of the Bush Administration and the "conservative" Republican Party. The only conservatism left in the Republican Party is the political theater of immigration and the blasphemous veneer of Christian values under the Bush Administration.
There is a reason why conservatives have this highly publicized "opportunity" on immigration. The "opportunity" is to support the return of the Republicans to power in the House, to return to power the party of Fhrerprinzip so that the White House can continue its rampage against the Bill of Rights. And the Republican Party — headed by Bush — is the same party that has done everything in its power to consolidate the Bush Administration’s depredations against the Bill of Rights.
Conservatives who labor under the issue of immigration this year are unwittingly laboring to reelect the same party responsible for destruction of the Bill of Rights. Instead, they should be asking congressional candidates — Republicans and Democrats alike — their position on the Bill of Rights before they enter the voting booth in November.
(For the record, I’m no libertarian purist on immigration. But I am for relatively open borders and think that this country can accommodate millions of immigrants — so long as immigrants come in legally, learn English, and the government conducts an inquiry to ensure they aren’t terrorists, criminals or have communicable diseases.)
Thomas R. Eddlem [send him mail] is a native of the Boston area of Massachusetts and a graduate of Stonehill College. He is a radio talk show host in Southeastern Massachusetts and is a frequent contributor to The New American magazine.