Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GOP Grandstanding Redux

Every now and again, the issue of the 14th amendment and birthright citizenship makes its way into some frazzled GOP operative's head. I wrote about a California ballot initiative that was crafted to end birthright citizenship here last summer; now Congressional Republicans are mounting a bill to "amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify the interpretation of the 14th amendment". Of course, this bill wouldn't come close to passing Constitutional muster-- the very idea that an act of Congress could change a long-held interpretation of the Constitution should smack anyone with an 8th grade education as ludicrous.

But my guess is that the GOP is making a really slick tactical move here. Smart GOP leaders know that this has no chance of passing, and even if it did, no chance of passing a Supreme Court hearing. They also know that many (if not most) people lack a fundamental understanding of how our government works. By introducing a bill like this, the wingnuts can force Democrats to vote against it and pillory them with the usual complaints of being soft on illegal immigration. In fact, I'm sure the higher-ups in the GOP would be terrified if something like this actually passed, since they would lose this sure-fire way to rouse the base. This kind of bill is a lot like the flag burning amendment that makes its way into Congress every once in a while. While the strategy is probably effective on some level, it really irks me.

I could go into the disgust many of us share at the nefarious scapegoating and blatant racism that underlies the whole thing, but really, right now I'm as angry at the fact that this is a complete and utter waste of time from a public policy perspective. Once again, the Republicans have proven that they are more interested in the political games and power plays than being a constructive partner in governance.