In AD 325 Roman Emperor Constantine supposedly saw a vision of the cross just before a great battle. It appeared as a pillar of light in the sky and bore the words “In hoc signo vince” (i. e., “in this sign conquer”). Constantine won the battle and converted to Christianity.
Other than Louis Farrakhan’s “mother wheel” vision, heavenly signs are mostly passé. But the Sign of 3 might appear soon. That’s 3, as in 3rd – party, that is. Thoughtful Republicans have nightmares, not visions, about conservatives forming an immigration reform 3rd party. That could make Republicans disappear, like the Whigs did after 1860.
Illegal immigration is driving the country crazy. Politicians try to ignore it, but it won’t go away. Millions of illegals are pouring across both our southern and norther borders. They and their sponsors are producing welfare crises in American cities. Joe Biden and his officials and apologists continue to proclaim that all is well – that there is no “crisis.” But even members of Good Old (Normalization) Joe’s own party are starting to sound the alarm. They know the thing is out of control and could lead to electoral disaster next year.
Late in the second term of President George Bush (43), a legalization bandwagon was chugging serenely through the Senate. A bipartisan coalition – consisting of Republicans John McCain (AZ), Chuck Hagel (NE) and Mel Martinez (FL), plus Democrat Edward Kennedy – was driving an ambitious bill. Polls showing that two-thirds of Americans wanted less immigration, and over 80% wanted borders stabilized before any illegals were normalized, were airily waved aside. The senators knew best. A “compromise” bill was poised for passage.
An earlier Senate bill had proposed letting illegal immigrants who had worked here at least two years apply for citizenship after paying a fine. When that bill was defeated, a compromise bill upped the two years to five. Those eligible would remain in the USA, while applying for legal status. Democrats urged a “clean” bill – without contentious amendments – but sharp-eyed GOP Senators and staffers saw nothing about screening criminal aliens. When Democrats opposed such a provision, the compromise collapsed. Senators headed for 2007 Easter break without a bill.
President Bush had insisted on “comprehensive” immigration reform, saying he would veto any bill without it. It was a hollow threat, since Mr. Bush hadn’t vetoed anything yet in his terms. The “world’s greatest deliberative body” thought they could deliver, but the bandwagon hit something senators had evidently forgotten about: American voters. (And that pesky Sign of 3 was flashing.)
Democrats don’t worry about the Sign of 3. When they engineer a third party, it’s always done to split the Republican vote and let their own guy slip in through the back door. That’s how they elected Woodrow Wilson in 1912, and Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996.
On the issue of illegal immigration, Dems are entirely sure of their base. They know where they stand: they want the border-doors propped open – removed, really – and they want legalization for all who sneak in. They expect these new voters – including millions of Hispanics – to come disproportionately to their camp and cement them in power.
Dems’ problem is how to strike a credible pose as guardians of American security, while holding the gates wide open. This explains Joe Biden’s figurative attempts to perform political backward-somersaults on immigration. It’s fun to watch, but not persuasive.
Unlike Democrats, Republicans are divided on illegal immigration. Their conservative base want the borders sealed ahead of any other measures. They claim that an “amnesty” – by any name – will only draw more illegals – a fear validated by prior experience. A 1986 amnesty legalized over 3 million illegals. Leaders fervently promised enhanced border-security, but they welshed. Now we have at least 20 million more illegals here. If we legalize them, conservatives say, we could get 40 million more in twenty years. The flood must be stopped.
President Bush (43) and GOP elites wanted to make resident illegals “guest workers,” as a first step toward citizenship. “Yeah, yeah, yeah – we’ll control the borders,” they said. “Trust us.” But conservatives weren’t buying. (Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.)
In 2007, the Senate was poised to pass a landmark immigration bill that would have given legal status and a path to citizenship to over 12 million illegal aliens already in the country. But the bill was never voted on, even though a series of votes on amendments and cloture occurred. On June 7th the final cloture-vote to stop debate failed, 34-61. That effectively ended the bill’s chances.
A related bill also failed, 46-53, on June 28. Media analysts credited the defeat of the bills on vigorous opposition from Talk Radio hosts, which generated a phone-call blitz that jammed the Senate switchboards and caused several senators to switch their votes to NO.
President Trump took strong action to arrest illegal immigration during his term, including real progress on a wall along sections of the USA-Mexico border. He ordered border agents to block any and all illegal crossings which they might encounter. This slowed illegal entries to a trickle – showing that the illegal-entry problem was controllable. Ironically, that success might have led to Mr. Trump’s 2020-defeat by turning pro-illegals Republicans against him.
Today, senators, congressmen and media commentators are talking the thing to death, but immigration reform looks dead for the near future, as things stand. The borders are wide-open, throngs are pouring in, and nothing short of a military intervention is likely to stem the flood.
Illegals crossing the Texas-Mexican border.
Is new legislation needed to control the borders? Of course not. It’s already illegal to sneak into the country or to overstay a visa. The dirty secret is that enforcement of current law is lax (or nonexistent) because powerful factions want more illegals. Businessmen, educators and pols are the “unholy trinity” who find advantage in keeping throngs of illegals coming in. Journalists and academics – confident that their jobs (and wages) will never be impacted by illegal workers – describe this as a civil rights issue in which they, “the enlightened ones,” are contending with a rabble of ignorant, racist xenophobes.
“We can’t catch all of them,” is a common refrain. That’s right. We can’t catch every border-jumper. We can’t catch every thief, either, but that doesn’t mean we quit trying. Millions of ordinary Americans are seething with resentment because their communities and states are going broke paying for illegals’ education, medical care, housing and other social services.
In an earlier article I compared illegal immigration with illegal booze of the 1920s. The difference is that this time the government has given up on enforcement. We’re not even going through the motions. Border agents have been turned into social workers whose main task is making sure that illegals get the provisions and medical care they need, on their way to the interior of the country.
Republicans have been tossing illegal immigration around like a hot potato, but have done little to assure their conservative base. It’s like watching someone juggle a flask of nitroglycerin. Sooner or later the stuff is bound to go off. Just so, conservative voters might eventually get fed up and stay home on Election Day – or bolt to a new party. The nitro will go BOOM.
When that happens, Democrats could win big and retake the entire Congress. They might even re-elect Good Old Joe (or Kamala, if Joe falls over). They’ll appoint more radical judges and Supreme Court justices. The country will undergo radical change. Like Russian Social Democrats after the Bolshevik Revolution, Republican leaders will spend years wondering what happened. But what won’t have changed is that illegals will still be pouring across our borders in huge numbers, and there will be not even a pretense of stopping them.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party got Woodrow Wilson elected by splitting the Republican vote. It was disastrous for the country. Wilson was a serious racist who segregated the Federal Civil Service by making racial minorities eligible for only menial jobs – a construct that remained in place until President Eisenhower finally undid it in the 1950s. Wilson also advocated Eugenics, which implemented Margaret Sanger’s plan to eliminate the “weed races” via abortion and forced sterilization. His enthusiastic support of D. W. Griffith’s outrageously racist 1915 film, Birth of a Nation (originally titled The Clansman) led to a revival of the Ku Klux Klan, and sparked widespread lynching and other violence against blacks across the country.
A new third-party movement in today’s tumultuous political climate could be disastrous. The “3” alarm is flashing. I might get the horselaugh for this warning, since there is no public mention of a possible third party at present. But that’s the real danger. There’s never any warning until the eleventh hour, when it’s too late to prepare.
Ross Perot didn’t enter the 1992 presidential race until the late summer. Republicans were totally unprepared for it, and Perot won 19% of the popular vote – most of it from voters who should have supported Mr. Bush. Republicans need to be very careful here. The 3rd party ploy is Democrats’ ace-in-the-hole. We shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we start preparing for it. Forewarned is forearmed.