I’ve followed the immigration debate for several years now. Much has changed in that time. Lately, the change seems to be accelerating.
Five years ago, Arizona’s senators – John McCain and Jon Kyl – were two of the biggest supporters of the George W. Bush amnesty. In the Senate, we were offered a choice between the McCain/Kennedy amnesty and the Kyl/Cornyn amnesty. At the time, the latter was advertised as a “compromise bill,” and the GOP leadership clumsily attempted to ram it down the throats of the conservative base.
Back then, Arizona was a moderate state on illegal immigration. Janet Napolitano was Governor of Arizona. John McCain proudly wore the “maverick” label. Lindsey Graham could say to La Raza, “We are going to tell the bigots to shut up, and we’re going to get this right.”
Around 2005, there was a massive purge of commentators on Free Republic who were too critical of the Bush administration on illegal immigration. “Jim Rob” was banning veteran posters left and right for trashing the White House.
It was around this time that George W. Bush and Congress agreed to build the border fence. In a memorable public relations stunt, Bush deployed the National Guard to the Mexican border to salvage his credibility on immigration.
By then it was too late.
The GOP took the “thumpin” in the 2006 midterm elections. The Democrats regained control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer savored their victory that memorable night.
How the times have changed.
The “bigots” didn’t shut up. They won.
In 2010, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, and Lindsey Graham are now on record supporting holding constitutional hearings to end birthright citizenship. A previously “extremist position” has entered the mainstream.
Graham on FOX News:
Are the conversions of John McCain and Lindsey Graham to ending birthright citizenship genuine? Of course not.
They are merely politicians with their fingers in the wind. If John McCain had not changed his position on immigration, he would be losing his Senate seat to J.D. Hayworth right now.
A political earthquake has shifted the ground underneath the feet of the Republican leadership. In order to survive, they have been forced to adapt and repudiate their former liberal positions on immigration. This can be seen across the conservative spectrum from Free Republic to the U.S. Senate.
Arizona’s precipitous action is having a domino effect in other states. Virginia is now following in Arizona’s footsteps. Utah, South Carolina, and Oklahoma are poised to act.
How did we get from there to here? Who got us from there to here? How do we get from here to where we need to go?