If I hear one more time that we’re not going to deport millions of illegals, or that there’s no plan to deport millions of illegals, or whatever the latest form of the straw man mantra is – well, you don’t want to be in the same zip code when my genteel reaction finally manifests itself.
The rule-of-law question is the one Jeb Bush and many (perhaps most) Republicans are simply wrong about. (See video from his CPAC appearance today, below.) The illegals problem isn’t about our desires or purposes for immigration. Shut up about immigration policy. We’re not talking about that.
Be glad to talk about it separately – for the record, I’m FER it (immigration) – but it’s not the issue here. The issue is the rule of law. It’s whether we are going to enforce our laws, consistently, reliably, with integrity, and on the principle that we’re all equal before them.
Giving a bunch of people who have sneaked into the country illegally a “path to citizenship” is a way of enshrining as policy our failure to enforce our laws. It’s a way of saying we never intend to enforce our laws. We’ll do whatever a given administration wants, regardless of what the law says.
Of course, going rogue on the law is an option only available to the government, and to certain political constituencies. It doesn’t apply to most of us.
If I get stopped while driving and don’t have a driver’s license or proper vehicle registration, the government will pursue me until I’m broken in a thousand pieces to enforce the law on my behind.
I’m not equal before the law to the illegal who gets stopped and is indisputably profiled as an illegal by law enforcement, and is therefore, for that very reason, allowed to proceed on his way without further hindrance.
Failure to adhere to a rule of law creates a pervasive environment of injustice, favoritism, and cynicism. Once you cut the tether with the rule of law, there’s no basis for public trust. Nothing can unify the people any longer as being a “matter of law.” Manifestly, that’s not a universal principle anymore. It’s just a whip cracked over the disfavored demographic of the day – which is usually the law-abiding middle class.
The value of even remaining part of the polity declines quickly. What good does it do to be an American, if your government and gangs of special interest advocacy groups get to treat you the way despots have treated their people throughout history?
The problem for Jeb is that it isn’t 80 years ago anymore; it’s not 1935, and we’re not still waiting to see what might happen to us if we lose the rule-of-law governor on our mechanism of state. We’ve already lost it. And Jeb talks about the illegals problem in just those terms: as a candidate who fully intends to live with that, and try to keep some sort of public consensus going in spite of it.
Yet the loss of our rule-of-law governor is one of America’s greatest existential problems today. If we don’t address it, we won’t be America much longer.
America has reached a juncture at which we can no longer keep substituting new lines of legal code and new spending for a correction of our philosophical course. We are off course philosophically. The rule of law is, in fact, more important than the specifics of immigration policy. It’s more important than whether people, even 11 million of them, are given a way to stay in this country after breaking this country’s laws by entering it.
The illegals themselves shouldn’t be the targets of ill-will. They certainly shouldn’t be thought of as representative of a whole ethnic demographic. That’s not the point. The problem in this situation is the American decision-makers who won’t adhere to the rule of law. And Jeb Bush is clearly one of those.
If he were something else, he’d talk like something else. He’d emphasize the rule of law, instead of emphasizing what we need to do for the law-breakers.
As it is, here is the proposition he offers. Obama, he points out, has exceeded the president’s constitutional authority and flouted the intent of our laws. But Jeb has no intention of performing differently, on the matter of illegals. He just wants us to trust him, instead of the next Democratic candidate, to act outside the intent of our laws, and continue with no plan to enforce them.
Sorry, Jeb. No sale. Not this time. We can’t afford to ever buy into that proposition again.