Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't tread on us

On my observing to him that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole evening, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, “Sir, (said he,) the conversation overflowed, and drowned him.”

James Boswell, Life of Johnson

About the so-called comprehensive immigration bill, I was starting to feel like that poor gentleman who found himself in the eloquent company of Samuel Johnson and his circle. Practically every blogger who mattered to me took up the subject, often with more knowledge and sharper logic than I could bring to the table. What could I add?

Writers hate to repeat themselves. How many different ways can you point out that venal politicians, from the president on up, were determined to give the benefits of American citizenship to millions of people who had done nothing to earn it – who had, in fact, entered the country and remained in it illegally and criminally, and who would bring with them an unstoppable chain of relatives and followers? Who would degrade the quality of American life through further overpopulation and demands on social services; most of whom had no desire to assimilate with our culture or contribute anything to it; whose only motivation was to milk the system for whatever they could?

Then, for a few magic hours, the clouds parted. The bill to transition the U.S. into the Third World was stopped in the Senate on a prcedural issue, but there was a sense that — other than the usual incorrigibles — legislators were beginning to wonder whether voting for such a bill would be a wise career move. Even the New York Times had to acknowledge that this pseudo-compromise over immigration didn't fool most of the people most of the time, and that the much invoked but rarely heard from "grassroots" voters had finally made themselves known.

The Bush-Kennedy-McCain Axis of Weevils had lost. We'd won. How sweet it was.

That's not the end of the story, of course. Mexico's ambassador to the United States, George W. Bush, was offended that mere citizens had taken it upon themselves to stand in the way of his Master Plan for "solving" the problems caused by virtually unrestricted immigration (problems for which he was more responsible than anyone). What a nerve.

"Amigos, we've got to do something about these little people who think family values stop at the Rio Grande. Get Linda Chavez on the phone and tell her to do another column about how opponents of My edict, er, bill are bigoted racists. Tell what's-his-name, that Reid character, to put a cork in all the other business and get back to pushing My Legacy. Set up a prayer meeting at the Capitol between Me and all the Republicans you can round up. We'll promise 'em they'll get knighthoods or medals or girls or boys or whatever, just make sure they've got the picture. It'll be in the bag by lunchtime tomorrow."

I don't know, any more than anyone else, how far our obsessive-compulsive leader of the free world will go in aid of his Master Plan. It would not surprise me if he is at this moment meeting with constitutional lawyers, probing the possibility of some sort of executive order (we're at war, remember) he could sign that would bypass the inconvenience of legislation and erase the borders with a stroke of the pen. Maybe that's what he actually had in mind with "see you at the signing." Or maybe he was thinking of miraculous signs in the sky that would show him the way to victory — in hoc signo vinces.

He's not going to quit till we do.

Still, I think the political equation has changed. Millions of previously quiescent voters found that they could make themselves heeded on something that mattered enough. The whole immigration issue is now under the spotlight and is going to stay that way; no more chances to sneak amnesty through at night in proceedings illuminated only by a poacher's moon. Bush's self-inspired determination to ignore the voice of the people is now plain to see.

Americans have gotten a taste, perhaps for the first time in their lives, of what it means to overcome the corporate interests and their running dogs in Congress, the Democrat immigrant-vote harvesters, and the social work bureaucracy itching to magnify its client base with a grand influx of new case fodder.

It's not the neocon all-purpose elixir, democracy, which doesn't poll well in Iraq and which has been notably missing from the immigration controversy. Call it the revival of a concept so unfashionable that the very word is hardly ever used in political discourse any more: liberty. Meaning, among other things, people taking back the responsibility for their own condition. At the time Samuel Johnson was dazzling his listeners in London, some Americans designed a flag. It said, Don't Tread on Me.

1 comment:

Vanishing American said...

Rick, well said, great piece.

You may be right about the phrase 'See you at the signing', although I had not thought of an executive order when I read that remark. Now that you say it, the remark sounds ominous.

Let's hope the bill truly is dead now. But we have to stay vigilant.