The war now being waged in Congress over illegal immigration is mostly about which philosophy will prevail in the Republican Party. Will it be the conservative wing that brought the GOP to power after years of wandering in the political wilderness as a minority party, or will it be the moderate-liberal wing that became comfortable in the wilderness?
It is no secret that the Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party (named after the late New York governor and vice president Nelson Rockefeller) has joined forces with liberal Democrats and even conservative (in name only) Republicans to weaken the conservative wing of the GOP.
The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg wrote an "analysis" about the titanic struggle between the party's two wings on that newspaper's front page on May 26. In it, Rutenberg ponders, "...what strain of conservatism the Republican Party carries into the midterm elections and beyond. Will it be the compassionate brand Mr. Bush considers crucial to the party's future, in this case by signaling support for a provision in the Senate bill that would give most illegal immigrants an opportunity to become legal? Or will it be the more doctrinaire variety embraced by much of Mr. Bush's party in the House, one that shuns anything that smacks of amnesty for illegal immigrants and seeks to criminalize them further?"
In the Rutenberg moderate-liberal view, people whose politics are founded on strong beliefs, rather than feelings, are "doctrinaire." To moderate liberals, positions born of convictions qualify an individual for one or more of the following monikers: racist, sexist, homophobic, ultra, intolerant, judgmental, unforgiving, fanatical, extreme or arch. A liberal who holds the opposite positions receives no such labels and much praise in the mainstream media and political culture. Too bad Ken Lay's jury was so "doctrinaire" about the law. Had jurors applied the shifting philosophical and legal winds of some Republicans, who are enamored by amnesty for lawbreaking illegals, Lay might have been exonerated for his Enron misdeeds instead he's facing life in prison.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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