The GOP: Kings of Political Pandering


The nest has been stirred. True colors bloom. The purpose behind Lindsey Graham’s, and the GOP in general, words and (in)actions on immigration is nauseatingly transparent: to channel the unstable power within volatile issues directly in the face of Democrats.

Logic, reality, or compassion have no place in the Republican strategy.

One senator, Lindsey Graham,  explicitly endorsed repealing section 1 of the 14th amendment.

…but I may introduce a Constitutional Amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here. Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say, ‘If you come here illegally and you have a child, that child is automatically not a citizen.’”

Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, spoke similarly, but held back a wee bit:

I think we ought to take a look at it — hold hearings, listen to the experts on it

This “hearing” talk  was further elaborated by Senator John Kyl and our resident turncoat John McCain, respectively.

And so the question is, if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?

McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also voiced support for hearings—McCain apparently reluctantly.

Here for The Foreseeable Future

In order to become law, an amendment to the constitution must first obtain 2/3 of the votes of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Then, the amendment must be ratified by 3/4’s of the States.

Barring an extremely radical transformation of the American landscape, section 1 of the 14th amendment is here to stay. And that makes Senators Kyl, McCain, Graham, and McConnell cowards.

If one is for a proposal, one should be clear about it. If a proposal is literally impossible to succeed, one should admit it. All of those four senators know that their proposal, whether it be to reinterpret the 14th amendment, or repeal it, is about as unrealistic as the American public seeing a politician whose actions comport with their convictions.

Paper v. Reality

The 14th amendment was written in the wake of disaster.

Its text makes clear its intent: to prevent the insidious events that preceded and led to the civil war. Significantly, Section 1 defines what a citizen of the United States is. It specifically mentions the word “citizen”. Following the first sentence, it drops the word “citizen”, and states:

nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Straightforward, yet those words are naught without application. As recently as July, Arizona wanted to prevent those words’ application(SB1070 would have deprived persons of “liberty” without due process of law, and of equal protection of laws, on account of ethnicity).

Now key Republicans, for the relatively shallow goal of being re-elected, are attacking Section 1 of the 14th amendment.

What is frightening is that they are not doing it in good-faith. John Kyl’s self-answering question, “should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?”, is eviscerated by logic.

In our judicial system, the child of even the most evil individual is not officially punished for the latter’s misdeeds. Under Kyl’s logic, any baby that derives from the womb of a person will be subject to official sanction for that persons sins. Perhaps children of prisoners should be discarded on the streets rather than subsidized by foster care, Mr. Kyl?

Wait, that would create a whole concrete subclass of people who could then undermine the social fabric, and thus potentially negatively affect the cocoon of tranquility we have worked so hard to obtain in a naturally chaotic world.

Repealing birthright citizenship would likely challenge the U.S.’s stability in a similar manner as the above scenario. That is the practical, logical angle. In the vein of basic fairness, of a respect for human rights, the Republican senators’  words are a portend to what will occur if the anti-immigrant wave continues to engulf  the unthinking American public: the downfall of the equal protection clause.

As I mentioned earlier, the protections of equal protection and due process in the 14th amendment are vulnerable when applied to reality. Today, in New York City, it is a well-established fact that minorities are stopped and frisked at a much higher rate than whites. That violates the equal protection clause.

In Arizona, under the reign of the feudal lord otherwise known as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the equal protection and due process clauses are regularly violated. In the bowels of ICE detention centers, U.S. citizens are regularly expelled from their homeland in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses.

In other words, the 14th amendment is flawed in that it does not fully encompass those that it was meant to protect. But it does cast a net, and many do extricate themselves from injustice because of it.

Power Shift

If the Republicans catapult themselves into control off the fiery anti-immigrant rhetoric, they may well try to hold onto power through the same means. Under this scenario, as I’ve written before, laws like Arizona’s SB1070 will be endorsed by the federal government, and even possibly mandated.

The constitutional attack based on preemption will be useless. All that is left will be a challenge of SB1070 and others via the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. This is where the lack of vigilant adherence to those clauses in the current climate–think Arpaio–will create a precipitous drop in the level of adherence.

The principal motivation for attacking  SB1070 on preemption grounds rather that Equal Protection is that the latter is difficult to prove. It is an officers’ word vs. that of the individual affected. If the whole weight of the federal government’s power is directed at a uniform goal such as “attrittion through enforcement”, the 14th amendment will be severely damaged, unlike at any time since the civil rights era. And for what?


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One Response to “The GOP: Kings of Political Pandering”

  1. Conway: GOP’s 14th Amendment C… | Says:

    […] The GOP: Kings of Political Pandering « El Gringo Gigante […]

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