Governing from a compromising position
I've written about the immigration issue in this country a few times previously (here, here, and here). Today, it looks like there may be some progress on getting some sort of immigration bill passed.
This issue has been really affected by polarizing politics in this country. There are factors of declining real wages of the lower and middle classes, large influx of illegal immigrants who are willing to perform lower wage jobs, employers willing to violate the law in order to hire lower wage workers, concerns about cultural fragmentation due to an influx of people who don't speak English or follow other American traditions, entangled thoughts about national security from open borders, and much more. Any solution short of deporting all 12 million illegal immigrants runs the risk of being branded as amnesty (which, I guess, is a bad word to some). At the least, most people would agree that people who came here illegally shouldn't get an advantage in becoming a citizen over someone who tried to follow a legal process.
And, we have at least 12 million mostly-hard working people who have settled here and become part of our communities. Do we really want countless raids going on in this country, separating illegal immigrants from their US-born (and US-citizen) children, as we try to send them all somewhere else?
I'm glad to see that there seems to be some spirit of compromise, starting with President Bush (whom I almost never agree with). He convinced some Republican Senators to re-start this issue. I agree with Bush that the status quo is unacceptable. We need to reconcile ourselves to some solution that addresses this issue. It's way too complicated for everyone to be satisfied with the ultimate legislation. In fact, I am sure that no one will be satisfied with the result. But, it's going to be better than the status quo.
There hasn't been enough compromise in today's political climate. This has led to either bad policy or stalemates. In the end, we all lose. We can gain much more if we have spirited debate and all try to form a workable solution. There's always the next legislative session to try to make it better. The status quo, on so many issues, is unacceptable.
Here's a quote from Ronald Regan on compromise. He seems very practical in today's context:
"When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn't like it.
"Compromise" was a dirty word to them and they wouldn't face the fact that we couldn't get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don't get it all, some said, don't take anything.
"I'd learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: 'I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.'
"If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that's what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.