I suppose this is one of those stories which is relevant to the current political debate, but has special emphasis for long time readers. My frequently cited credentials as a card carrying RINO (when Ed isn’t holding the weekly title) are often based on certain issues where I have tired of shoveling against the tide on political battles while grassroots conservatives have been ready to charge into battle. These include at least two government shutdowns (both involving Obamacare) where I asked the assembled masses if this was the hill we wanted to die on.
I don’t really apologize for it, because we each have to find our own point where we drag a stick through the dirt in front of the bully and dare him to step over the line. Some things are just not worth getting a bloody nose (or worse) over. But this weekend a moment arrived when I gained a bit more understanding of the frustration some of you have felt with both party leadership and establishment candidates in the past. It came when we saw Donald Trump release his long awaited immigration plan. Those of you who follow my ramblings here on a regular basis are familiar with my own stance on the subject and I had little to say of Trump’s plan beyond the fact that it was … remarkable.
It was clear, direct and concise. It was, in short, what I’d been waiting to hear from many other GOP candidates who have their own “issue pages” on their web sites and talk a good game on illegal immigration but don’t supply these sorts of details. True, I could kvetch over a couple of minor points in the Trump plan. The viability of eliminating birthright citizenship absent a Constitutional amendment is questionable at best. The idea of tripling ICE personnel may be a net plus but details will be required on both the cost and how their mission is to be expanded. The big question mark for me is where Trump stands on the question of deportation for aliens not yet accused of additional crimes, since some of his statements thus far seemed contradictory. But for the most part it was a magnificent document. It contains some bluster to be sure, but the fundamentals were refreshing to see and it was a relief to find a candidate with an actual proposal.
All in all, the release of this plan should have made for a pretty good weekend. But then, late on Sunday, I was sent a link to a column at the New York Post written by my long time friend, Liz Mair. The title of this piece really sums up the entire argument. ‘Amnesty’ may be the key to winning the GOP nomination.
A Public Religion Research Institute poll from June 2014 shows that 51 percent of Republicans support a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.
Nor is it the only evidence that in a GOP primary, support for “amnesty” (by which we mean in legislative, as opposed to highly objectionable executive order, form) may actually help more than it hurts.
Yes, the nomination process leads off in Iowa, a state famed for its more immigration-skeptical caucus-goer pool, and home to restrictionist Rep. Steve King. But it’s often concluded, de facto, in Florida, where legislated “amnesty” sells, even among Republicans…
There are numerous instances of Liz putting the word amnesty in scare quotes. She cites multiple polls where significant segments of even self-identified Republicans are in favor of allowing the “undocumented” Americans in waiting to get a free pass. This is hammered home in political terms by citing how huge of an issue this is in Florida, and the importance of that state to the GOP.
Something like 60 percent of the Florida GOP primary electorate that year took a “no-deportation” position.
In the last three GOP contests, he who has won Florida has won the nomination.
And short of an overwhelming money advantage (which would also be tough to amass, given where GOP donors are on immigration policy), the only “deportation” you’ll find in a Republican presidential primary in Florida is that of the anti-immigration candidate from the race.
The disturbing thing here is that Mair’s column isn’t a cause, but rather a symptom. There’s no denying that supporters of amnesty have done an admirable job of selling their wares to the public and conservatives have failed to make headway in the debate with significant segments of the population. This has many of the GOP candidates nervous since they spend so much of their time fixated on the polls and their positions on how to handle the illegal alien problem reflect this. The sad fact is that Liz Mair is far from the first person suggesting that the GOP should just surrender.
I’m not here to tell you that the release of the Trump immigration platform is some sort of defining moment where The Donald must be the GOP nominee. There are many bumps and jumps along the road between now and next summer. But immigration – and yes… deportation – is clearly a defining issue of this election. Every Republican candidate should be made to stand against the wheel and tell us where they come down on the specifics of the question and to provide their own plan, showing where they agree or differ with Trump’s policy vision.
Whether you are concerned about the flood of stories of catch and release illegal immigrants raping and murdering inside our borders or take a more pragmatic, public safety approach, this is crucial. If you cannot support the idea of the United States being a nation of laws and recognize the need to protect that institution by controlling our own borders, enforcing those laws and putting Americans first, then you have essentially weakened any claim you might have made of fealty to the Constitution of the United States of America. If you are willing to sacrifice these basic assumptions because the polls are running against you, then you have truly abandoned ship. I don’t know if this is a battle that can be won in the SJW era which defines the 21st century, but it is surely one worth fighting.
I know I’ve been at odds with many conservatives here in the past on a number of subjects. I accept that, and many of our regular readers similarly acknowledge that we can’t all agree on everything. But as I mentioned at the outset, we all have to find where the Rubicon lies for ourselves and decide when it has been crossed. In closing, I would summon up one of my favorite quotes from H.L. Mencken which is found on the front page of Ace’s web site every time you visit.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.
Occasionally there comes a point where you find the hill you may have to die on. Let’s get out the trenching shovels, lay in the defenses and fill up the canteens, boys and girls. This is that hill.