Linda Chavez

What is going on with Republicans in Congress? They've largely abandoned many traditional conservative principles -- smaller government, belief in the free market and protection of individual, not group, rights.

Instead of acting as good stewards of the people's money, Republican members have taken the art of "earmarking" funds for their pet projects to heights that should make big-spending Democrats blush. They've become so obsessed by immigration, many have adopted the centrally planned economic models of radical population-control advocates.

And now some Republicans are about to engineer the reconquista of Hawaii. There is much talk among some Republican members of Congress of late that Mexicans are trying to reconquer the American Southwest, but the real irredentist threat seems to be coming from Hawaiians, not Mexicans, with the help of a lot of Republican politicians. Instead of being the party of principle, Republicans are in danger of becoming the party of hypocrisy.

The latest travesty comes in the form of a bill to grant "Native Hawaiians" status as a sovereign government within the United States. Half of the co-sponsors of the legislation are Republicans: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, Ted Stevens and Lindsey Graham. And so many Republicans are supporting the bill that opponents may not be able to sustain a filibuster when it comes up for a Senate vote next week.

The bill creates a new racial category -- so-called Native Hawaiians -- that will be defined as a "tribe" for purposes of self-government. Anyone who is one of the "indigenous, native people of Hawaii" and who is a "direct, lineal descendant of the aboriginal, indigenous, native people" who resided in the Hawaiian Islands on or before Jan. 1, 1893, and "exercised sovereignty" in the same region will be given special autonomous rights, including the right to "negotiate" with the federal government over lands and natural resources.

In order to qualify for membership in the group there will be strictly a racial test -- "tribal" members wouldn't even have to live in Hawaii. And never mind the obvious nonsense that the indigenous peoples of the Hawaiian Islands ever exercised "sovereignty." The only sovereign of the Hawaiian peoples in 1893 was Queen Liliuokalani, but that won't stop some 400,000 people claiming special privileges under this bill.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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