Not just immigration: It’s societal transformation
This is not an “immigration” issue. “Immigration” is when you go into a U.S. government office and there’s a hundred people filling in paperwork to live in America, and there are a couple of Slovaks, couple of Bangladeshis, couple of New Zealanders, couple of Botswanans, couple of this, couple of that. Assimilation is not in doubt because, if you’re a lonely Slovak in Des Moines, it’s extremely difficult to stay unassimilated.
This is not an “illegal immigration” issue. That’s when one of the Slovaks or Botswanans gets tired of waiting in line for 12 years and comes in anyway, and lives and works here and doesn’t pay any taxes, so the money he earns gets sluiced around the neighborhood supermarket and gas station and topless bar and the rest of the local economy, instead of being given to Trent and Arlen and Co. to toss into the great sucking maw of the federal budget.
But a “worker class” drawn overwhelmingly from a neighboring jurisdiction with another language and ancient claims on your territory and whose people now send so much money back home in the form of “remittances” that it’s Mexico’s largest source of foreign income (bigger than oil or tourism) is not “immigration” at all, but a vast experiment in societal transformation. Indeed, given the international track record of bilingual societies and neighboring jurisdictions with territorial claims, it’s not much of an experiment so much as a safe bet on political instability.
To connect the dots, you have to see the dots
I’m a strong believer in privacy rights. I don’t see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don’t require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it’s hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, “connecting the dots” involves getting to see the dots in the first place.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. “Look at this headline,” huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?”
No. But next time he’s flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?
WITH A MAJORITY LIKE THIS…
Last year Newt Gingrich was up in New Hampshire and my neighbor Scott went along and expressed various dissatisfactions with the GOP Congress. And Newt said, well, you must remember Republicans are still pretty new at this, we’re not used to being in the majority.
That’s it? The Iraqis are expected to pick up the ins and outs of this governing business instantly, but the Republican Party can’t get the hang of it after 11 years? Don’t worry, I’m not predicting electoral disaster this November. It would be nice to think that the GOP might get to enjoy a Geena Davis-style “hiatus” while they “retune” their winning formula. But I doubt it will happen: Even losers need someone to lose to, and the Democrats have failed to fulfill even that minimal requirement for the last decade. Christopher Hitchens said on the Hugh Hewitt show recently that he “dislikes” the Republican Party but he has “contempt” for the Democrats. I appreciate the distinction, though I’m not sure I could muster even that level of genial tolerance. The Democrats have been the most contemptible opportunists in the years since 9/11: if they’ve got nothing useful to contribute to the great challenge of the age they could at least have the decency not to waste our time waving around three-year-old Abu Ghraib pictures and chanting “exit strategy” every ten minutes.
But what happened to the other guys? “The Republican Party,” says Arlen Specter, “is now principally moderate, if not liberal” – and he means it as a compliment. “I’ll just say this about the porkbusters,” chips in Trent Lott. “I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble since Katrina.”