Four months ago as the Republican field began to form and potential candidates began poking around Iowa, a major issue they were forced to address was ethanol. Thankfully the conversation has since developed from a fringe stereotypical issue like ethanol to more serious and pressing issues like illegal immigration.
If in a vacuum and in absence of other big problems ethanol subsidies may be a valid issue to talk about. A variety of factors, however, make it a silly topic to debate. First, the economy is in tatters and we have seen the result of politically driven subsidies on the other side with the Solyndra debacle. Second, we are now over 15 trillion dollars in debt and, beyond being irresponsible, pumping borrowed money to prop up an industry is both nonsensical and in direct opposition to Conservative philosophy. Third, a majority of Iowans don’t even support financially supporting ethanol at this point.
Immigration on the other hand has been a national outrage on both sides of the isle for over five years. The failure to deal with it one way or another not only has direct economic consequences, it unquestionably is an issue included in the Federal government’s charter–the Constitution.
Not by accident, Mr. Gingrich has brought the immigration debate back to the front burner by bringing it up in the CNN National Security Debate last week . You could almost see Mitt Romney’s eyes light up as Gingrich made the political “mistake” of voicing his true opinion. Seeing a rare chance to get to the right of a fellow candidate, Romney acted aghast that someone would consider letting illegals who have been here for over 20 years stay rather than be deported or jailed–never mind that this was nearly his exact position four years ago .
Watching the media operate on this story for the last five days has truly been a case study in how pathetic they can be. First, it is infuriating to hear them repeatedly characterize this as a “mis-step”. No my pointy headed friends, voicing your longstanding opinion on an issue during a primary is not a “mis-step”–its the point of the process. Acting like this was some kind of huge blunder assumes that the purpose of a primary is to just say a bunch of things that everybody in your party agrees with. If you think for yourself (yes you Mitt), sometimes you find your opinion differs from the conventional wisdom. When this occurs a politician has two choices, they can either change their opinion (sound familiar Mitt), or articulate it and try to bring the electorate toward their belief.
In terms of illegal immigration you would have a tough time finding someone more hard-line on the issue than myself. I deal daily in an industry that largely exists on illegal labor and can prove my bona-fides with the fact that my front yard, for a time in 2008, was home to a Tom Tancredo for president sign. Having said that, a little less than two years ago I came to the conclusion that the issue was not ever going to be fixed without a scenario that included many illegals staying in America. While they are too numerous to get into here, the two main reasons are the massive volume of illegals and that the Democrat party is, to their very core, committed to pandering to them.
In my view, having accepted the realities involved, the real issue is achieving the steps necessary to permanently solve the problem before decriminalizing long-time, otherwise crime-free, illegals. To me these steps should include passing harsh penalties for future border crossings, implementing intense bankruptcy risking fines for companies hiring illegals, and an actual double-sided, full border fence.
While I don’t support the Gingrich idea of “citizen boards” to determine deportation–coming up with some sort of process, provided the prior mentioned steps have been taken, is a logical place for the debate to occur. Ironically the second major failure of the media is not pointing out that Gingrich’s “de-criminalization” status for some illegals is only to take place after the border is secure. While he does not define “secure”, his platform states  the goal for doing this would be January 1st of 2014.
Since the media remains largely useless in honestly informing citizens on the true substance of what is taking place, every voter has the responsibility to research the issues and the candidate’s actual stances on their own. While in the end it may be that many fellow Republicans will not agree with Newt’s, and largely my own, position on tackling the illegal immigration problem, he deserves credit for honestly and openly expressing his opinion.
How it plays out for him remains to be seen, but one thing that’s certain is this is a debate worth having…the same couldn’t be said for ethanol subsidies.