The prevailing mentality among Beltway Republicans is that passage of an imperfect immigration bill before the November elections is better than no bill at all. They might just find out how wrong they are when they experience the inevitable conservative backlash.
Why do we have to be faced with these false choices? The enactment of an imperfect bill, even if it would help to preserve the Republican majority in November, would be a classic case of sacrificing the long-term good for short-term political benefit.
I strongly believe we need to preserve a Republican majority, even though that majority is often controlled by dictatorial moderates -- as in the Gang of 14, seven of which are Republicans. The election of a true Democratic majority would have potentially horrifying consequences on domestic and national security issues across the board.
But with the immigration, we're not talking about some little throwaway issue, but one whose resolution could determine whether this country will ultimately retain its national identity. If anything closely resembling the Senate bill becomes law, we will be stacking the decks against ourselves in what already promises to be a formidable struggle to preserve the unique American culture.
The idea that we can later tweak an imperfect bill is pernicious folly. Not only is this bill far from merely "imperfect," the reality is that the law of entropy usually applies in politics as well as thermodynamics. If anything, an imperfect bill will, over time, become more imperfect.
Remember the Campaign Finance Reform Bill that President Bush signed, after having campaigned against it, offering the half-hearted assurance that the Supreme Court would probably declare it unconstitutional anyway? Well, they haven't, have they?
What's more, while the bill put a selective dagger through free speech in the critical 60 days prior to the election, it still didn't fulfill its specious promise of taking big money out of politics.
So now, Sen. McCain and his band of merry "reformers" want to further massage the bill and carve the imperfections of out it. Every version, including the present one, is presented as the bill to end all bills. But additional iterations just make matters worse, without correcting any of the so-called imperfections.
The last thing we need is another imperfect bill, this one on immigration, even if it means that Republicans have to take a hit in November.
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