For all the bitterness of our political battles, there’s at least the sense that the government responds to the drift of public opinion. The Republicans in Congress turned into big spenders and the war in Iraq went poorly. As a result the Democrats prospered in 2006, if narrowly. That’s how democracy works. Our politics are often angry and ugly (and that’s a problem), but this is because the public is deeply divided on issues of great importance. Deep down, we understand that our political problems reflect our own divisions.
Somehow this immigration battle feels different. The bill is wildly unpopular, yet it’s close to passing. The contrast with the high-school textbook version of democracy is not only glaring and maddening, it’s downright embarrassing. Usually, even when we’re at each others’ throats, there’s still an underlying pride in the democratic process. This immigration battle strips us of even that pride.
In response to Stanley Kurtz, Mark Stein writes:
There's something creepy about a political class so determined to impose a vast transformative bill cooked up backstage in metaphorically smoke-filled rooms on a nation that doesn't want it. It's an affront to republican government and quasi-European in its disdain for the citizenry.
This reminds me of something I read a while back. George Bush I famously didn't like broccoli (one of the things we agree on, he and I). When Clinton won in 1992, Hills made the comment "We bringing broccoli back to the White House." Commenting on that, someone (I can't remember who, so I cannot attribute it properly) noted that that nicely describes her politics: "I know you don't like it, but it's good for you, so eat it anyway." This immigration bill reveals that our senate seems to have largely adopted the broccoli model of politics, and I have to agree that it's one of the most offensive parts of the Bill. I've called my Senators. Have you?