The Campaign Spot

Strange Things Happen When You Don’t Begin By Calling The Other Side ‘Racist’

I think today’s Morning Jolt is one of my best yet, so I’d nudge you to subscribe if you haven’t already. A taste:

The Kindler, Gentler Arguments Against Arizona’s New Law

Now a few Republicans come out doubting whether Arizona’s tough new immigration law is a good idea.

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio: “From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation.  While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position.  It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens.  Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: “I think it creates unintended consequences,” he said in a telephone interview with POLITICO Tuesday. “It’s difficult for me to imagine how you’re going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well.

Karl Rove: “I think there is going to be some constitutional problems with the bill,” he said to the standing-room-only crowd at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center. “I wished they hadn’t passed it, in a way.” Still, Rove… objected to comments by critics including President Barack Obama that the law will lead to problems such as racial profiling by police. “These are modern police forces that respect the rights of people in their communities,” Rove said. “They’re going to do it on the basis of reasonable suspicion that these people are here illegally, like they’re driving a car with a Mexican license plate or they can’t speak English or they don’t have a drivers license.”

Note the tone of all of these criticisms; there’s no accusations of hateful motives, no demonization of the proponents; no public art demonstrations using pinto beans in the form of historically infamous symbols. These guys just lay out their concerns that turning this law from words on paper to government action could take us places we don’t want to go. Why, it’s almost as if they actually want supporters of the new law to hear them out!

I wish the Arizona immigration law wasn’t necessary. This has been a maddening issue for Americans, where a fairly basic desire of the public – “control who goes in and out of our country, let the good folks enter and keep the bad guys out” – has been routinely ignored. Decades of little or no border control created serious, divisive tensions in communities far from our borders (here are fascinating cases from Hilton Head, South Carolina and Northern Virginia). Not even 9/11 triggered much serious improvement in border security, and from the middle of the past decade to today, the governing class has tried to argue that some form of amnesty was necessary, with a bone or two being thrown to enforcement via ‘virtual fences.’ (Now we’re told — surprise! — the virtual fence isn’t working.) Only the open-borders absolutists can begrudge Arizona for trying to get dramatically different results from a dramatically different approach. Maybe it won’t work, or will create new problems, but the state’s voters have made clear that the status quo is untenable.

A lot of how this law works out will depend on the good judgment of the Grand Canyon state’s law enforcement. But then again, that applies to every law. One bad cop, and all of the current temper tantrums comparing this to Nazi Germany will look less unhinged and genuinely prescient.

On the other hand, cops already work with the knowledge that one confirmed case of racial profiling will ruin their career, cast suspicion on every officer in a department, and potentially cost that jurisdiction a small fortune in legal fees and damages. It seems a safe bet that no officer in the entire state wants to be known as the next Mark Fuhrman.

Of course, I suppose cops could ask someone for proof that they have health insurance first, and then ask if they’re in the country legally.