Friday, June 08, 2007

Cracks in American Politics

It’s probably better for America in the long run that the immigration bill has stalled in the Senate. Something needs to be done to address the problem of illegal immigration, but sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something when the something that you do has a good chance of making matters worse.

I don’t see any winners or heroes in the immigration debate. I believe President Bush was noble in his attempt to fix immigration, but I also think his primary argument was flawed. The reason there are jobs Americans won’t do is because there are employers who will not pay the price to have jobs done by legal American citizens.

I kept waiting for a spokesperson on either side of the debate to make compelling arguments for their side. I heard and read a few reasonable arguments on both sides, but I primarily heard and read appeals to emotion, with very few appeals to reason. Compassion for our fellow human beings has to be balanced by justice with long term expectations and consequences.

The debate over immigration has also exposed some real cracks in our political system. Congresspersons who base their political position on who donates the most money to their campaign, or which constituency shouts the loudest in opposition, or even which position is held by the majority of voters are not doing their job with honor. It’s not good for America when money, the vocal minority, or the tyranny of the majority determines public policy.

The job of a congressperson is to do what is right for America in the long run. For very good reasons, America was never intended to be a pure democracy. Citizens with core values, principles, and morals are supposed to elect representatives with similar values, principles, and morals and then the representatives are supposed to legislate based on these values, principles, and morals. When self interest is the primary value of those doing the electing, then self interest will be the primary value of those getting elected, and public policy will be based on individual selfish interests.

Is selfishness the legacy of the American experiment? Where are the American statesmen in the mold of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy? Where are the heroes? I have no doubt that many of our soldiers returning from Iraq will be the real leaders of the next generation. However, I worry that none of them will ever get elected.

1 comment:

Buz said...

In a monarchy you get the luck of the draw ... whichever child of the King or Queen ascends to the thrown.

In a dictatorship you get whoever fights there way to the top of the heap.

In a democracy, the people tend to elect whoever is most like them. If we want a better leader, we need to be a better people.

Of course, what does that say for my great state of Michigan, where our senators are Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow?