Sunday, May 20, 2007

Zakaria Blasts Republicans on Immigration

Wow. He is usually pretty reserved and makes his shots in a less confrontational way. But this one is a direct shot.

And he begins by quoting Reagan against the current crop of so-called Reaganites:

Actually Reagan addressed the issue of illegals directly and with surprising candor. In a radio address in 1977, he observed that apples were rotting on trees in New England because no Americans were willing to pick them. "It makes one wonder about the illegal-alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal-alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do?" Reagan asked. "One thing is certain in this hungry world: no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters."
I think (although Zakaria quotes a study to the contrary) that illegal immigration (or legalized "illegal" immigration if you like) does depress wages of non-skilled labor. Although I imagine the pressures of globalization do more long term to depress wages in that sector than simply illegal immigration. But that's a guess.

What is clear I believe, which Zakaria points out, is that to continue to bandy about the term amnesty with the fairly strict hurdles in this bill (stricter than the one passed last year in Senate) this hardline right-wing group (representing if I had to bet about 1/4 or so of the population) has no desire to compromise. Meaning the Republican Party should not be beholden to this hardline element. Zakaria correctly likens them to previous incarnations of anti-immigrant nationalist sentiment: Know-Nothing Party, anti-Chinese Exclusionary Act, etc. The Republicans (like Giuliani and Romney) who previously held views more or less in line with the current bill who have suddenly had a conversion or whatever from their wayward ways get this ice:
The Republican Party today is filled with what Winston Churchill called "boneless wonders."
I actually think if Giuliani were elected he would go back to his 1990s New York days and pass something like this.

The bill (which I have not had a chance to read all 400 pages of) is not perfect. Far from it. But it's a move in the right direction I think. There are issues I think it will solve and others it will cause more headaches which will require another set of legislation some point down the road to fix. I tend to prefer the slow muddle of legislative compromise given no other alternative.

What is a legitimate grip I think that is not covered in this bill is the influx of immigrants breaking overloading social and governmental infrastructure in border states. Hospitals, schools, housing, etc.

But again all this is part of the massive domestic infrastructure overhaul that is necessary in this country. Based on the needs of a 21st century globalized world. Security and flexibility through networked structures.

But this current crop of Republican and Democratic leaders not to mention screeds from the far left and right of the blogosphere. Don't expect any of those voices to get on that train anytime soon and start speaking and acting rationally.

These guys (and they are all guys) are just self-destructing. Maybe it's necessary that they just completely implode so that something new can grow out of the ashes. I would like to vote for a Republican for President in '08 because I believe the country functions best (if function is even the right word for our pathetic government) when the Executive is held by one party and the Legislative by another. But I look at these dudes and I wonder why they are running as these hardline right-clones. Especially Romney. Ugh. It's sad to watch. And the vitriol and self-laceration is disgusting really but exposes what has been lying just beneath the surface for awhile now.

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