What makes all this more ridiculous is that of all the problems facing our political system, our broken immigration system should be the easiest to repair. The outlines of fair, sensible, and workable comprehensive reform are well known, and contained in the legislation passed by a bipartisan majority in the Senate last year. In a nutshell, it provided more resources to strengthen border security while recognizing the obvious and economically advantageous necessity of legalizing the status of people who have come to this country for a better life, are contributing importantly to it, and are never going to leave.
That Senate measure had the support of important constituencies in both political parties. Liberals supported it. Many conservatives did, too. Business supported it. Religious leaders supported it. In poll after poll, so did consistent majorities of Americans. None of that is surprising, since the bill was perceived by most people who looked at it as a common-sense approach to a problem that shouldn’t be that hard to solve. But those kind of people — sensible, public-spirited problem solvers — don’t have much influence in the nation’s capital these days.
Washington has become the place — more than it has been in generations past, I think — where people who would rather do anything than solve a problem go to be important. They are silly, useless people, who thrive by dramatizing their failings and appealing to the worst in the rest of us. They are leading a great nation toward mediocrity. We shouldn’t let them.