The failed cloture vote dooming the deeply-flawed Immigration Bill was not necessarily, practically-speaking, a bad thing.
The bill represented an incoherent compromise between the political forces seeking to close the gap between reality and our currently unenforceable immigration laws, and the forces seeking to raise barriers and “secure the border.” I don’t think that bill effectively embodied any compelling logical solution, and it would have made partisans of neither side on the issue happy.
I think the country needs to think about all this some more, conduct a serious debate on the subject, and then craft a better solution. The Immigration Bill was an unholy mess, and I think we’re better off giving that one a miss, and trying again another year.
But the Senate vote obviously did manifest some discernible response to the groundswell of anti-immigration popular emotion successfully drummed up by certain segments of the political right. Our nativist law-and-order simpletons won one, and they ought to have been feeling good, but unhappily some members of the right blogosphere’s reaction to their own success at the far-from-difficult feat of evoking a little political cowardice on Capitol Hill was less than attractive.
Rather than celebrating winning a small skirmish in what will undoubtedly be a long war (one in which they are ultimately going to get their butts kicked), a number of bloggers on the right were name calling and demonstrating their own lack of familiarity with how the Wall Street Journal really works. link
Many of our fellow conservative friends are just wrong on this one.
It isn’t difficult to enforce laws against real crimes, against things like murder and robbery which everyone knows are wrong. The laws which are hard to enforce are the laws against things which are not intrinsically wrong, the kinds of laws which ordinary decent people are willing to violate, and which decent law enforcement officers are not eager to enforce. When existing laws prove unenforceable, the right answer is not to redouble efforts at enforcement. The right answer is to change the law to bring the law’s content into better conformity with Americans’ legitimate desires.
Conservatives ought to recognize that when spontaneous, voluntary, mutually beneficial economic transactions between human beings occur, that is a good thing, not a bad thing, and government should get out of the way, and not try to interfere on the basis of anybody’s theory of what the country ought to look like.