Bill Murchison
Arizona's grasp of constitutional niceties may be imperfect according to U.S. Supreme Court standfasts, but the state's attempt to wrestle with the immigration conundrum deserves more respect than jurists and commentators are willing to assign it.

Like, what's a state to do when the national government refuses to act on an urgent question intimately affecting its citizens? Arizona chose to enact a law. Some of the law passed muster with the high court this week. Other portions, less artfully conceived perhaps, lost out. Arizona peace officers can check the immigration status of people they stop for nonimmigration-related offenses. What they can't do, broadly speaking, is prevent illegals from seeking work.

There we are, then -- meaning not fully enmeshed in the process of problem solving; rather, figuring out how the situation as a whole bears on prospects for re-election or defeat of the incumbent U. S. president. The immigration question, as laid out before us, really doesn't center on the rights or duties of government at one level or another; it centers on votes. Does it not seem that way with most public questions today?

What Barack Obama wishes to accomplish by way of immigration outreach, chiefly to Hispanics, is his re-election. A poll this week indicated that among this large voting bloc the president leads Mitt Romney 3 to 1...

Romney has, accordingly, the need to proceed delicately, grossly offending neither Hispanic voters nor critics of the immigration nonpolicy now in force -- if you call it force.

This is all a shame, if not a scandal. When politics, meaning the quest for votes, comes to dominate an urgent question, we are assured nothing substantive, or perhaps even useful, is going to be done. Every move becomes outreach: the act of begging.

It is pretty much how we live these days. The political parties, as in Europe prior to the financial debacle, are focused on giving things, not on taking them away. When you take something away -- a well-paying government job, the right to strike against or bargain collectively with the government -- you offend, meaning you drive away votes. When, by contrast, you hand out favors, you sometimes could listen all day without hearing all the expressions of gratitude and fealty. If your profession is the harvesting of votes, which outcome do you prefer?

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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