On principle, moreover, it seems wise to let the people of a republic have some say in a bill that, if I may be blunt, contemplates its replacement by another. With this, for the moment at least, we can pronounce that the dispossession of America compassed by the Senate, in its perfidy, has been delivered a blow; that self-government has been given succor; that America’s liberty may yet endure; that her patriots may cheer and her despisers gnash their teeth.Just look at this. What proof is there that the Senate bill even comes close to doing what it is claimed to do in this post? The Heritage Foundation study often cited as proof of this has been fisked very nicely by Dafydd at Big Lizards. Do we even know how many illegal immigrants there are? The estimates range from 11 million to 20 million. We can't even know for sure what the effect that the increases in legal immigration will be - much less whether or not it will be the disaster that the hard-liners portray it as. Human beings are not exactly predictable.
Does this sound familiar? I think it does. Remember Al Gore's pronouncements in Earth in the Balance, which included an invocation of Kristallnacht? Or other pronouncements about global warming - and the potential disaster that would come - from environmentalists? God help anyone who dares to question the existence of global warming or the efficacy of the Kyoto Treaty, which they treat as holy writ. Ask Bjorn Lomborg, whose book The Skeptical Environmentalist was met with a firestorm of criticism. Indeed, the suppression of dissent is much like that seen in the early 20th Century, with eugenics, as author Michael Crichton noted in the appendix to State of Fear.
It is also so like the 2006 immigration debate. We have seen Tom Tancredo openly attack fellow Republican congressmen who offer plans to resolve this issue that he disagrees with for whatever reason. It has reached the point that he is being described as a hatchet man - by those who otherwise might support his position on this bill. It is seen when those who do not support an "enforcement first/enforcement only" approach, and instead favor a comprehensive bill are labeled as "quislings" and "agents of Mexico", who support "the emasculation and gradual overthrow of the America we know" and "subversion of law".
How is a person to react to such labels and claims, which are little more than scurrilous accusations whose prima facie evidence is nothing more than disagreement with the agenda of the person who uses them? How can debate and discussion of a vital issue be possible in such an environment? The short answer is that debate and discussion are shut off. In essence, those who have used these labels have declared that they see only one solution - and the only allowable discussion is on how best to accomplish it. Any other debate and discussion is deemed unacceptable. It is a form of political correctness that is no less suppressive of the exchange of ideas than the speech codes on college campuses. Don't take my word for it - just ask Mike Pence or Chris Cannon.
The suppression of debate and dissent has met with opprobrium on the right when it is carried out by environmentalists. Yet the right often does the same thing it has accused environmentalists of doing when immigration is the issue on the table. Conservatives cannot have this both ways. If a tactic is wrong for one side to use on an issue, then it is equally wrong for another side to use it on an issue.
But the rationale against the suppression of debate and discussion goes beyond right and wrong. When certain options are closed off due to "impure" ideological foundations by the actions of a strident faction acting out of an arrogance fueled by zeal, it often will shut out viable solutions. Open debate and discussion does not only lead to new ideas, it leads to a much better implementation of those new ideas. This strident faction has decided that a poorly implemented and unworkeable, ableit ideologically pure solution is better than a workable compromise that is implemented well.
That will be a sad day for the country.