Arizona and the failure of the Right
Arizona may be my last straw. My home state has gone off the deep end lately (and I’ve written about it extensively – here, here, here, here, and here and even proposed a Northern Arizona secessionist movement). The state legislature is doing just about everything it can to avoid tackling the budget crisis it is faced with, including this latest immigration shenanigan. I know a lot of people around here who support the new law. They are all conservatives. Meanwhile liberals, a handful of religious conservatives, and the odd libertarian or two are all shaking their heads in disgust. I even heard some people talking about the new law saying it didn’t go nearly far enough, joking about how we should set up land mines all across the border.
That’s right. Land mines.
You even have the ostensibly reasonable David Frum – the guy who is too willing to criticize his own team to even be considered a team player – defending Arizona’s immigration law. The reasoning goes something like this: Arizonans are afraid of the drug runners and criminals coming into the country illegally so we need this sort of law in the absence of federal immigration reform.
I’m reminded of the debate over gun ownership: If you ban guns, only the criminals will have them.
Arizona’s law works similarly. We may be able to push out all the illegal workers in this state – 600,000 or more by some estimates – but we won’t be able to stop the criminals from getting in. That’s because the criminals are either drug runners or human smugglers. As long as there’s a demand for their goods and services on the black market, they’re not going to stop. Instead we’ll drive out 600,000 workers and consumers who contribute to the state’s economy, tax revenues, and general prosperity.
And the conservative reaction to this among movement cons is pretty much “good riddance”. On the questions of civil liberties, they shrug it off. They’ve been shrugging those off for years, so why stop now? If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to fear?
Paleocons like Daniel Larison and Pat Buchanan have cheered on the law as well, reminding me why I fit in about as poorly with the Old Right as I do with the new (and illustrating one of the few places where Frum and Buchanan actually agree on something). And while there are indeed some voices on the right opposed to the law, mostly it’s been either the libertarians or various liberals criticizing the bill.
Conservatives have their limited-government priorities all wrong. While libertarians and the left have focused on matters of security overreach – wiretapping, surveillance, executive powers, GITMO, etc. – the right has brushed all this off and focused instead on taxes, healthcare reform, and whether the president is an American citizen. At every turn the right is willing to strip away civil liberties with one hand, while at the same time lamenting the socialist takeover of America. The hypocrisy is tangible.
And as if Arizona’s new immigration laws weren’t bad enough, now the Arizona Education Department is instructing school administrators to get rid of teachers whose accents are deemed too heavy.
What sheer nonsense. This is where the right in this country has gone. I am at a loss.