Monday, June 11, 2007

Immigration bill failure is a loss for Bush/Kennedy/Kyle but win for Madison

Flipping between the Sunday political talk shows, I noticed a theme. Nearly all of the pundits (all from the main stream media) agreed that the political system is "broken" or "Washington is failing us" because the Immigration bill did not pass.

There was near universal agreement that the "loud voices" from the left and right dragged the bill down. Minority groups that don't represent "us" ruined the chance for "real" reform.

First, they all endorsed change without detailing exactly how the change is positive. Is change, regardless of the details, better than the undesirable status quo? I don't think so. Secondly, when were the rules of incramentalism banished? Any freshman political science or public policy student should know that major sweeping changes normally only happen in crisis i.e. major war or a depression. Why is the Polysci-101 truism not known in Congress? Make no mistake, this bill would have been that big a change. It would have changed the lives of millions (12, 14, 16?) from the northern tip of Maine to the southern portion of California. Furthermore it would have had a major impact upon the labor market and economy as a whole which affects everybody. Maybe career politicians should consult with pimple faced college freshman first. Just a suggestion.

Although these issues are important, the most important point is one made by James Madison in Federalist 51.

"In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties be gradnally induced, by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful"

According to Madison's views, the death of the immigration bill demonstrates how the system should work, not a failure as the pundits believe. An impassioned minority should have the ability to overturn the will of the majority (that is assuming the majority favored the bill which i doubt).

1 comment:

BillT said...

Great post. There was a great article on this last week, and your link to the Federalist papers is useful.

However, apparently the president didn't get the memo. Here we go again.