Time to End the Conservative Circular Firing Squad on ‘Amnesty’

Conservatives usually pride themselves on using straightforward language and simple logical and moral arguments. But when it comes to illegal immigration, emotion trumps logic and morality. Let’s start with the word “amnesty.” Its definition is “forgiveness” in one form or another. Sounds like a Judeo-Christian virtue at first, doesn’t it? But it has become a club to be wielded against political opponents.

First of all, what is the meaning of “amnesty” in the context of illegal immigration? At the leftmost endpoint, the most forgiving is full legalization including an easy path to citizenship. Then there is a spectrum of conditions to earn citizenship all the way rightward to some level of legalization with no possibility of ever attaining full citizenship. From there, it meanders down a road of partial legalization, possibly work permits, or at least some protection from deportation absent some aggravating criminal activity. Finally at the rightmost end of the amnesty road there is no legalization of any kind with varying degrees of enforcement via deportation or even criminal penalties.

Most conservatives agree that there should be no path to citizenship. But after that, as we move ever rightward, agreement turns to bitter anger and hatred. At each stop along the bumpy road from no citizenship ever to “round’ them up and ship them out” proponents denounce anyone to the left of them on the amnesty trail as being in favor of amnesty, while those further to the right are extremists.

If there were no other important issues to conservatives, it might not be so bad to engage in futile linguistic gymnastics, but the argument has become so divisive and all-consuming that it has all but drowned out other issues. For example, we are losing a million babies a year to the abortion industry. Sorry, my fellow conservatives, but those babies’ lives are more important to me than your need to sound tough on immigration.  The Bill of Rights is under constant attack from the left. Free speech, free press, free religion, free self-defense options, freedom from various government excesses are all in constant danger. It doesn’t make me weak on immigration to say that these are all more important issues. We haven’t even touched economic freedom. The hypocrites on both Wall Street and Main Street who profit from the cheap labor provided by the illegals can count on our support for lower taxes and monopoly-preserving regulations even as they oppose all our other conservative values. So I get it. That causes anger which gets exploited by cynical politicians as they accuse each other of being in favor of amnesty.

So, instead of uniting on the really important issues, we conservatives blast each other over being too pro-amnesty.  I agree with my tied-for-favorite talk show host Marc Levin on every substantive issue I can think of but I cringe when if I hear him blast Marco Rubio, or even Eric Cantor (Remember him? In 2008 and 2009, he got the entire Republican House minority to oppose unanimously every important Obama depredation, but I digress). The blame falls squarely on the amnesty issue. Here is a modest proposal.

Let’s grant amnesty to otherwise conservative politicians on their prior views on immigration. From now on “amnesty” means citizenship -- no more, no less. If you favor a path to citizenship you are pro-amnesty; if you oppose a path to citizenship, you are anti-amnesty. You get a free pass (amnesty?) for prior positions, but from now on, it becomes a necessary component of conservative credentials. Trump gets a free pass for hiring illegals in the past. Bush gets a free pass for saying that sneaking across the border is an act of love. Rubio gets a free pass for whatever he was trying to accomplish with Chuck Schumer and the Gang of 8. But much like the popular ”no tax increase” pledge, conservatives should be encouraged to sign a no-amnesty pledge whose clear meaning is “no citizenship, ever.”  That pledge should be expanded to include “Kate’s Law.” It should be a serious federal felony when deported criminals return.

What would all that accomplish? It would let us concentrate on the real policy ideas of the presidential candidates. How many of you can describe the difference between the Trump and Rubio tax plans? What would be the risks of an all-out trade war if we crack down on Chinese and Mexican imports? Does Trump really mean to eviscerate the First Amendment in order to get even with newspapers he doesn’t like? What about entitlement reform? Remember that? Who can describe the candidates’ positions on that? Of course they all want a strong economy and jobs but action items are vague.

There are so many important things to do. Here’s an idea conservatives can embrace. Use our unprecedented control of state legislatures to pass laws that cut funding from universities which fail to uphold First Amendment rights to speech and religion. Can we all agree on that?

The Republican Party and the conservative movement are in the midst of a very uncivil war. Stop it!  Stop it now!  I don’t care who is to blame. Because as sure as half my readers will mentally accuse me of all sorts of terrible things, we can look forward to a four year dark age ruled by the Clinton crime family. Go Donald, Ted, or Marco---or John or Ben, or someone else. One of you had better be able to unite us or, once we sober up, we will never forgive you -- even if it is our own fault.

True conservatism is in danger of being destroyed by needless disputes over the cancerous issue of illegal immigration.

Conservatives usually pride themselves on using straightforward language and simple logical and moral arguments. But when it comes to illegal immigration, emotion trumps logic and morality. Let’s start with the word “amnesty.” Its definition is “forgiveness” in one form or another. Sounds like a Judeo-Christian virtue at first, doesn’t it? But it has become a club to be wielded against political opponents.

First of all, what is the meaning of “amnesty” in the context of illegal immigration? At the leftmost endpoint, the most forgiving is full legalization including an easy path to citizenship. Then there is a spectrum of conditions to earn citizenship all the way rightward to some level of legalization with no possibility of ever attaining full citizenship. From there, it meanders down a road of partial legalization, possibly work permits, or at least some protection from deportation absent some aggravating criminal activity. Finally at the rightmost end of the amnesty road there is no legalization of any kind with varying degrees of enforcement via deportation or even criminal penalties.

Most conservatives agree that there should be no path to citizenship. But after that, as we move ever rightward, agreement turns to bitter anger and hatred. At each stop along the bumpy road from no citizenship ever to “round’ them up and ship them out” proponents denounce anyone to the left of them on the amnesty trail as being in favor of amnesty, while those further to the right are extremists.

If there were no other important issues to conservatives, it might not be so bad to engage in futile linguistic gymnastics, but the argument has become so divisive and all-consuming that it has all but drowned out other issues. For example, we are losing a million babies a year to the abortion industry. Sorry, my fellow conservatives, but those babies’ lives are more important to me than your need to sound tough on immigration.  The Bill of Rights is under constant attack from the left. Free speech, free press, free religion, free self-defense options, freedom from various government excesses are all in constant danger. It doesn’t make me weak on immigration to say that these are all more important issues. We haven’t even touched economic freedom. The hypocrites on both Wall Street and Main Street who profit from the cheap labor provided by the illegals can count on our support for lower taxes and monopoly-preserving regulations even as they oppose all our other conservative values. So I get it. That causes anger which gets exploited by cynical politicians as they accuse each other of being in favor of amnesty.

So, instead of uniting on the really important issues, we conservatives blast each other over being too pro-amnesty.  I agree with my tied-for-favorite talk show host Marc Levin on every substantive issue I can think of but I cringe when if I hear him blast Marco Rubio, or even Eric Cantor (Remember him? In 2008 and 2009, he got the entire Republican House minority to oppose unanimously every important Obama depredation, but I digress). The blame falls squarely on the amnesty issue. Here is a modest proposal.

Let’s grant amnesty to otherwise conservative politicians on their prior views on immigration. From now on “amnesty” means citizenship -- no more, no less. If you favor a path to citizenship you are pro-amnesty; if you oppose a path to citizenship, you are anti-amnesty. You get a free pass (amnesty?) for prior positions, but from now on, it becomes a necessary component of conservative credentials. Trump gets a free pass for hiring illegals in the past. Bush gets a free pass for saying that sneaking across the border is an act of love. Rubio gets a free pass for whatever he was trying to accomplish with Chuck Schumer and the Gang of 8. But much like the popular ”no tax increase” pledge, conservatives should be encouraged to sign a no-amnesty pledge whose clear meaning is “no citizenship, ever.”  That pledge should be expanded to include “Kate’s Law.” It should be a serious federal felony when deported criminals return.

What would all that accomplish? It would let us concentrate on the real policy ideas of the presidential candidates. How many of you can describe the difference between the Trump and Rubio tax plans? What would be the risks of an all-out trade war if we crack down on Chinese and Mexican imports? Does Trump really mean to eviscerate the First Amendment in order to get even with newspapers he doesn’t like? What about entitlement reform? Remember that? Who can describe the candidates’ positions on that? Of course they all want a strong economy and jobs but action items are vague.

There are so many important things to do. Here’s an idea conservatives can embrace. Use our unprecedented control of state legislatures to pass laws that cut funding from universities which fail to uphold First Amendment rights to speech and religion. Can we all agree on that?

The Republican Party and the conservative movement are in the midst of a very uncivil war. Stop it!  Stop it now!  I don’t care who is to blame. Because as sure as half my readers will mentally accuse me of all sorts of terrible things, we can look forward to a four year dark age ruled by the Clinton crime family. Go Donald, Ted, or Marco---or John or Ben, or someone else. One of you had better be able to unite us or, once we sober up, we will never forgive you -- even if it is our own fault.

True conservatism is in danger of being destroyed by needless disputes over the cancerous issue of illegal immigration.