The conservative movement that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once, and George W. Bush II twice, is essentially a movement of grass-rooters who don't like to take orders from the top and who revolt when they believe they are betrayed or bossed by those they elected. That's why the grass roots abandoned the first George Bush when he reneged on his "no new taxes, read my lips" promise.
The tough political tactics used by union bosses and Democratic machine bosses simply don't sit well with conservative Republicans.
Resentment against the current Bush administration is still festering about the combination of threats and bribes that pushed through close votes in Congress to pass the costly Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003 and Central American Trade Agreement in 2004.
Maybe the intra-party divisions between fiscal vs. Big Government conservatives that lay behind the former battle, and between pro vs. anti free-traders in the latter battle, were evenly balanced enough that the Bush administration alienated only a handful of Republicans. But in demanding a guest-worker plan that smacks of amnesty, the Bush administration is taking the unpopular side of a party division that is at least 80-20.
In December, the House passed a border-security bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.. The bill rejected support for Bush's guest worker/amnesty plan. Since 88 percent of Republican House members voted for this bill, that should have been a wake-up call to the president.
Shortly thereafter, Arizona Republican National Committee member Randy Pullen gathered enough signatures to present a resolution to the Republican National Committee at its Jan. 19-20 meeting in Washington, D.C., which endorsed border security measures and opposed any guest worker plan.
A competing resolution endorsing border security plus a guest worker plan was floated by the RNC's Bill Crocker of Texas. After he realized the strong tide against guest workers, he began negotiating a compromise with Pullen, and one version of the compromise eliminated guest workers.
When the RNC resolutions committee met Jan. 19, the chairman, Idaho's Blake Hall, brought up the original Crocker resolution that included guest worker language. An attempt by one committeeman to substitute the Crocker-Pullen compromise was ruled out of order, and then a motion to remove the guest worker language was voted down 5 to 3.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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