"Our Enemy, the State" was a minor classic by Albert Jay Nock that young conservatives consumed in the Goldwater days of long ago.
In the 1970s, however, "conservatives" tasted power under Nixon. In 1980, they captured the White House. Today they control the government. But along that long road to power, many shed principles and convictions as they came to relish the wielding of power for its own sake no less than the liberals of the New Deal and Great Society.
Many now in power are in reality conservative impersonators, the sort of people the conservative movement was first mounted to run out of town. Indeed, under George W. Bush, the party of Goldwater and Reagan has become a second party of government. Social spending has soared as rapidly as it did in the salad days of LBJ.
Last week, the title of Nock's classic came again to mind. For "Our Enemy, the State" is an exact description of a regime that seeks to convert into law a Senate amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, while authorizing transnational companies to go abroad to bring hundreds of thousands of foreign workers here every year to displace Americans.
Three-in-five Republican senators voted "no" to amnesty. It sped to passage, however, with the backing of George W. Bush, John McCain, Bill Frist and nine of every 10 Senate Democrats.
That proposed amnesty, and the bipartisan support it won, is a textbook example of an establishment against the people, and a state at war with the nation. For that bill would alter the face, fate and future of America against the expressed will of the nation.
Rather than stand with the people who put them in office, Bush, Frist, McCain and 21 GOP senators, in the defining collision between K Street values and Main Street values, went with K Street.
Since the Immigration Act of 1965, Americans, in every poll and referendum, have demanded reductions in immigration, an end to the invasion through Mexico, no amnesty, a resolute defense of America's borders. Yet, not until a firestorm of protest erupted after he called the Minutemen "vigilantes" did Bush begin to speak up for border security.
Given the collapse in enforcement of U.S. immigration laws in his first five years in office, it calls for a great leap of faith to credit Bush's sincerity now. One senses the president is tossing pennies to the House to buy their support of the amnesty-guestworker plan on which he and Vicente Fox have been colluding for years.
Now it comes down to the people's House. And the question is a simple one: Will the House that, last December, voted for the toughest border security and enforcement bill in our lifetime capitulate to the president and his allies from Harry Reid to The New York Times to La Raza?
But this is not only a test of the House. It is an opportunity for the House. It is a chance for the House to declare its independence of the national establishment. If the House will say to the Senate and Bush, "No amnesty, no deal!" it will have not only done its duty by the people who elected it, it will have rejected dishonorable compromise in favor of what is right for America.
But if the House goes along with a Senate bill with which, by its own December vote, it disagrees, a bill that will break the hearts of people who put it in power, what will be the remaining argument for keeping the House Republican?
Answer: There is none. This immigration bill is not only about America's future, but the continued relevance of the Republican Party as the party to rule and run the nation.
The Senate, by opening the door to U.S. citizenship for millions of illegal aliens, has cheapened something Americans used to consider priceless. That the Senate would put on a path to U.S. citizenship people who, only a month ago, were marching under Mexican flags is a manifestation of national decline.
In 1963, as Churchill was approaching death, a debate was held in our country and Congress on whether that friend and ally in World War II should be granted U.S. citizenship, an honor previously accorded only to the French hero of the American Revolution, Lafayette.
That is how we treasured citizenship then. But like the dollar and much else, it has been badly depreciated under this generation.
In its decision whether to accept or reject the Senate amnesty-guestworker plan, the Republican House -- which rejected that course last December -- will define itself and the GOP. To the nation, it will be seen as either an independent House to be respected and re-elected as the only people's House in this capital city, or it will be seen as but a tool and rubber stamp of the White House and Senate.