I’m back blogging after a week away from it, although the pace may remain somewhat light this week as I continue working on a special project that should roll out this weekend or early next week.
In any case, I wanted to weigh in quickly on a few things:
1. Arizona’s new immigration law
I have lived in a country (Belgium) where the police can stop you at any time, with no discernible cause, and ask to see your “papers.” It is an unnerving feeling, even for those people who are present perfectly legally and have nothing to fear. It makes you nervous even to pass a policeman, who without such a requirement would have no reason to stop you as you walked past him on the sidewalk.
In the case of a foreign-born resident — again, even a legal foreign-born resident — you are required to carry documents which you greatly fear losing because of the time, hassle and even difficulty involved in obtaining them. For instance, I technically was supposed to have my passport with me at all times to accompany my Belgian ID card (a national ID card itself is an odious thing, but that’s another topic). But replacing my passport while overseas, if I were to lose it or have it stolen from me, would have been a lengthy ordeal, not to mention that it would have left me unable to return to the U.S. until the new one arrived. So, the vast majority of the time I took the chance that no one would stop me. But I also knew that I was unlikely to be stopped, even though most any Belgian officer on the street probably could have easily recognized me as a foreigner.
In short, I don’t think “Your papers, please” fits in a free society.
All that said, however, I consider this new law less an indictment of the Arizona government than of the federal government’s failure, across multiple administrations and Congresses under the control of Republicans and Democrats alike, to deal properly with its core responsibility to secure the borders.
While Washington has been delving into matters that are not its core functions — revamping the health-care system, for instance — the immigration problem has been exploding. The recession has eased some of the pressure, but if a recovery is truly under way, we can expect the migration problem to ramp back up.
I am not a restrictionist or nativist; I generally favor expanding the number of ways foreign workers can enter the country legally — preferably for the short term, and in tune with our economic needs. But we must have control over our borders before we can do that in any rational sort of way. And absent effective federal measures to secure the borders, it is wholly predictable for the states most burdened by illegals to take matters into their own hands.
I happen to think this move could provoke a backlash among legal residents that Arizonans will end up regretting. But the “irresponsibility” here, contra President Obama, is on the part of the feds.
2. Ray Boyd and the Georgia GOP
For a political novice, Boyd has found a way to get more “earned media” than most of the veterans in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. But his grandstanding about the state GOP’s loyalty oath makes him, not the party, look unreasonable.
A governor is effectively the head of his or her state party. Fair or not, a party as a whole is held responsible for the actions of its members. If a candidate wants to run with that brand, why wouldn’t the party want to protect that brand? And the GOP oath itself is pretty tame: “I do hearby swear or affirm my allegiance to the Georgia Republican Party.” Rather than wonder why the state GOP has such an oath, one almost marvels instead that the Democrats feel comfortable not having some similar declaration.
If Boyd wants to run against the way the state and the GOP have been led, then running as a Republican probably isn’t the way to go about it. He can still get on the ballot as an independent, so this isn’t really an access issue.
And here’s a thought: If Boyd truly wanted to take on the establishment, he might have tried to qualify as a Libertarian. What better way to raise the profile of a third party than to hold a gubernatorial primary? Think of the additional attention the eventual Libertarian nominee would get, compared to the way it is now. (Free blog subscription for the first reader who can name at least two Libertarian nominees without the aid of Google.)
It’s too late for this year — the Libertarians held their convention last weekend — but would-be renegades might want to file that away for future years.