Not long ago, President George W. Bush made one of the most elitist, most egotistical statements in modern American political history. On Tuesday, May 19, 2007, speaking at the nation's largest law-enforcement training center in Glynco, Georgia, he said, "Those determined to find fault with this [immigration] bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don't like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it." Essentially, he equated opposition to his and Ted Kennedy's immigration bill to wanting to destroy America.
Observers of the recent American political scene have been witnesses to many examples of such "I [or we] know better" rhetoric coming from politicians lately. If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not informing us about the need for ethics reform in government, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is giving us a good scolding about what is best for the United States in Iraq. Senator Trent Lott recently opined, "Talk radio is running the country, and we have to do something about that problem." And not too long thereafter, a gaggle of politicians—most of whom are admittedly left-of-center—decided that what this country needs in order to do what is best for America is to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, the law that supposedly grants "equal time" to opposing political beliefs.
Beyond the particulars of any political opinion is the underlying philosophy of the politician or citizen. Usually, with a little bit of rumination on a person's stance on an issue, one can deduce at least the outline of his or her philosophy. The philosophy itself, rather than a person's various positions on issues, is more determinative of his ideas about what is best for America. Figure out a politician's philosophy, and his aims become plain.
For instance, how about George Bush and his immigration policies? What do we know about him? What drives him? We can tick off a few points that help us to understand his position:
- He is a political blue blood, that is, his family is among America's political elite and has been since at least the Hoover Administration.
- His family is wealthy, having made its money in West Texas oil and other subsequent ventures. He and his Vice President Dick Cheney have many close ties to Big Business, to the point that they have been accused numerous times of allowing business interests to shape their policies exclusively.
- His father's politics were centrist rather than conservative, and though George W. Bush ran his political campaigns as a "compassionate conservative," he has governed very much like his centrist father. His foreign policy, overshadowed by the Iraq War and the War on Terror, has been resolutely pro-American, but his domestic policies have earned the praise of liberal Democrats.
- His career has been guided by Karl Rove, a political genius whose main idea has been to expand the Republican Party into a "big tent," that is, able to include many ideas and diverse types of people and thus expand the voter base. "Compassionate conservatism" was an idea designed to change the perception of the Republican Party from hard-line conservative, in the Ronald Reagan mode, to welcoming and sympathetic, which, frankly, is the façade of none other than former President Bill Clinton, who made such an "I feel your pain" image work twice.
- As a former governor of Texas, and having grown up in a state with a large Hispanic population, he seems to have a soft spot in his heart for their "plight."
From these few points, we can begin to understand his pro-amnesty stance. First, he thinks he knows better what is best for America because he and his family have been part of the machinery of government for nearly a hundred years. As average Americans, we do not have either the perspective or the experience to make an informed decision on such a momentous issue.
Second, developed nations everywhere are crying out for laborers, and we have a ready pool of cheap labor aching to come here and work. What businessman would not leap at such a gift?
Third, his domestic policies tell us that he believes the socialist lie that America is a tossed salad, a diverse, multicultural nation that can only be enhanced by the addition of millions of immigrants. Is that not how America became great—by the influx of millions of immigrants? So he argues that America should open its arms wide to admit this new wave from the south to enrich its culture with its vigor and dreams.
Fourth, he hopes that, in gratitude for his compassionate stand on this issue, many of these new citizens will register to vote as Republicans, giving the next generation of Bush protégés a leg up in their future elections.
Finally, he can return to Texas as a hero of Anglo-Hispanic relations after his second term, build his presidential library at the University of Texas, and become the kingmaker of the Republican Party for the next few decades. Perhaps my analysis is a bit cynical on this point, but it cannot be too far off the mark in terms of his aspirations. As for reality, the bill's defeat this week makes such a fantasy coming true less likely.
What is best for America? In terms of Constitutional government, exactly what happened this week. The Congressional switchboard had to be shut down because it was receiving too many calls from concerned citizens. Talk radio was wall-to-wall talk on the immigration issue. Pundits and bloggers all gave their opinions. The will of the people became clear, despite the machinations of politicians to ram their destructive bill through. As Abraham Lincoln said, the American government is supposed to be "of the people, by the people, for the people"—not of, by, and for politicians and their elitist cabals.
Of course, what is best for America would be for all Americans to turn to the God of the Bible and begin to follow His ways (Ezekiel 33:10-11). If only they would!