Why I Hate Politics
Read this article. No matter what one’s position on immigration or the Arizona law, it should be remarkable for one thing, and one thing only – there is virtually no discussion of whether the Obama Administration’s lawsuit against Arizona is good policy or good governance or even just a necessary part of governance. No discussion of whether the federal government – and lest we forget, the Obama Administration’s primary job is supposed to be “head of the federal government,” not “chief political strategist” – has a legitimate interest in taking a legal position on whether the Arizona law is preempted by the federal government’s Constitutional powers.
Instead, we learn that the primary concern of Democratic governors across the country is that the lawsuit will hurt Democrats across the country politically this fall and that, as such, “concern over immigration policy pervaded the closed-door session between Democratic governors and White House officials and simmered throughout the three-day event.” This attitude is summed up thusly:
““I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time,” said Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, a Democrat who was facing a tough fight for re-election and pulled out of the race earlier this year. “This is an issue that divides us politically, and I’m hopeful that their strategy doesn’t do that in a way that makes it more difficult for candidates to get elected, particularly in the West.””
Even those governors supportive of the Administration can’t help but make the electoral politics of immigration the central issue:
“Policy-wise it makes sense,” said Mr. Richardson, who is Hispanic and who leaves office this year on term limits, “and Obama is popular with Hispanic voters and this is going to be a popular move with them nationally.”
Notably missing here is the simple and obvious fact that the Obama Administration has no control whatsover over when Arizona passed its immigration law and whether the federal government would suffer immediate and irreparable harm to its interests if the Arizona law were permitted to proceed unchallenged for any length of time.
We do get some sanity from Gov. Carcetti Martin O’Malley:
“The president doesn’t have control over some of the timing of things that happen,” Mr. O’Malley said. “When those things arise, you can’t be too precious about what’s in it for your own personal political timing or even your party’s timing. When matters like this arise, I think the president has to take a principled stand.”
…But the sincerity of even this fairly obvious bit of truth-telling is thrown into question by the fact O’Malley was himself voicing apprehension about the lawsuit in the closed-door meeting.
When politicians are elected, they are supposedly elected to govern, not to simply be the strategist-in-chief for their political party. Sometimes governing means doing things that are unpopular or, just as often, allowing bureaucrats to do things that are unpopular in order to properly do their jobs.
Unfortunately, this is rarely what actually happens, and we instead wind up with a political class that repeatedly and consistently loses sight of the fact that, once elected, they’re actually supposed to govern. That is, after all, the entire point of having elections in the first place.