Emotions among Conservatives have run high at times during the Bush Administration. Let’s – for once – step aside from the yelling and start with common ground. I think it is reasonable, as a starting proposition, to contend that everyone with a strong opinion on the issues under debate has thought about them at some length, and their emotion is the result of their concern for this country. So, for the first step in this article, I propose that we leave the weapons of ad hominem and character attacks outside the door; we do not need them, and they are not useful for the purpose of discussing the issues.
If that can be done (sadly, a doubtful prospect at the moment), I would also suggest that we should also leave behind the baggage of past debate. Guilt trips are not effective debating tools, and we will have quite enough on our hands to even begin working on the issues which matter most. I would further submit that, especially as Republicans are the minority party in Congress, and even among Republicans there is a wide range of opinions on certain issues, we must demonstrate a reasonable tolerance for different opinions. No, you don’t have to agree to a bill you find unacceptable, but at the same time it is suicidal for a faction to refuse to discuss points of a bill under consideration, or to refuse the possibility that getting some of what you want is better than getting none.
Let us also forego that practice of mis-portraying the other side. Let a proponent say what they would like to see done, why they think it will work, and how they would see that put into action. Those opposed or unconvinced could then properly ask for information, challenge assumptions and faulty contentions, and – most important – offer feasible solutions. This would be, of course, much lengthier and complex than the present smear-fest we see on radio shows and web forums, and it would require a much higher level of maturity than is usually presented in these debates, but it would have the salient effect of actually moving the debate forward. Deal with what people are actually and genuinely believe, rather than some ‘gotcha’ strawmen, and there is much better foundation for building a real solution.
Since Border Security and Immigration Reform are two of the most contentious issues at present, I think we might next consider the key problems to address in those issues. My list is not the be-all, end-all, but I think we could use it as a launch point for the forum to follow in this thread:
1. The presence of at least 12 million foreigners in the United States who arrived illegally and who continue to stay here illegally, represents a serious problem for the United States, which must be addressed in a manner which, in effect, closes the door to such numbers of illegal immigration.
2. There are organized groups who would desire to attack the United States, either as criminals (gangs) or as terrorists. This is the chief reason why the borders must be secured against entry by foreign nationals, especially organized operations.
3. The Immigration laws of the United States simply do not work as intended. Not only is there a serious enforcement problem with the laws already in place, but those immigrants who try to comply with the bureaucracy find the rules illogical, punitive, and arbitrary.
4. There are a number of American businesses which have no intention of complying with U.S. law regarding the hiring of illegals. Therefore, there is a strong market able and willing to subsidize illegals, and any legislation considered needs to contend with this problem.
5. There are a number of state and local authorities who oppose federal efforts to control illegal immigration. Substantive legislation should consider this interference, and legal recourse should be prepared for these conditions.
6. The overwhelming majority of these illegal immigrants are non-violent and could function as valuable members of society under the right circumstances. Accordingly, any plan to address the long-term situation must provide an opportunity for eventual citizenship for those families and individuals who can demonstrate the ability and will to act responsibly under American law, allegiance to the United States, and penalties for their illegal entry. Any plan must consider legal applicants first and with strong preference.
7. Because the Democrats can be counted on to oppose any substantive solution to Illegal Immigration, Republicans must maintain a united public face. Consensus therefore is the sine qua non for Republican in-house debate, and under no circumstances should a Republican, no matter his opinion, commit an action or statement which weakens the GOP’s position or advances the Democrats’ agenda.
All of these have been considered or proposed before, but unfortunately have been ignored by opponents, mis-characterized or mis-stated, or simply mocked. We have the means to find answers, but only if we act like the adults in this debate. We surely cannot expect the Liberals to even try to resolve these problems, and ignoring the problem is simply out of the question.