To hell with America, to hell with the public, to hell with the economy or the military or federal workers, said the Democrats as they shut down government. There was no excuse. They said it was about saving the Dreamers, even though there were six weeks before the current program’s protections would elapse.
Then came another piece of flapdoodle.
If the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency, the shutdown was their fault, some Democrats pronounced with self-righteousness, failing to hide the non-sequitur. That argument is like saying, if you’re the manager of a building and a burglar steals stuff, you are the burglar.
Yes, the Democrats did finally agree to postpone their coercive buffoonery until Feb. 8, although Americans once more had their confidence and trust in government rattled, no small deal. A shutdown, after all, makes governmental inefficiency more inefficient and, while governmental essentials are supposedly protected, they are in fact at risk in various ways over time.
Meantime, we do not know for sure what happens next, even though the Republicans seem mostly willing to legalize the Dreamers. What is also needed are security measures that make a genuine difference and can pass for a wall. Democrats once seemed headed in that direction, but now maybe not, and we therefore arrive at still another matter: a merit system for immigrants.
The current system of family ties being the main factor is bosh, and let’s understand that getting rid of it is not somehow being inhumane. People who have gained skills and can easily assimilate and further our high-tech economy are still human and may themselves have suffered misery in their home countries.
You want diversity? Then end a system that has mostly favored one nation over all others. Give everyone an equal chance. Focusing on the individual is not just a way to help America. It is also just.
None of this is to say that unskilled workers are not needed. We do need them, but not in the numbers now pouring in and increasing governmental costs exceeding their economic contributions. Their presence can benefit companies specializing in low wages while doing little for companies looking in vain to find people with the skills they require.
The DACA recipients who could soon be on a road to citizenship would probably pass most of the merit tests, but understand, too, that there are also some 4 million parents of the Dreamers that Democrats want to legalize.
The Democrats, at least as far as we now know, really, truly do not like the merit idea except in small doses that could cure a cold, maybe, but not so major an issue as we now face. There are those who think they are looking for votes through their proposed immigration policies, not what’s good for the country. Hey, I would never say that. But even if I did, it would be a whole lot less vicious than those who consider it racism to want to move away from the system we now have.
One more matter — this business of needing 60 senators’ permission to take up even a bill to keep the government running, what’s known as the filibuster. It is not. A filibuster was a senator talking on and on to stop other measures and gain attention until unable to go any longer. Let’s get back to that.
I happen to think we need a liberal and a conservative party to stand in the way of the excesses possible in either direction, and I think compromise a good thing. But our system is now so dysfunctional I think the old system would be preferable. If the Republican senators don’t get together to give it a try and lose the midterm elections, watch and see what the Democrats do.
And, by the way, Trump once said he was for mass deportation of all illegal immigrants, but then said more than once that, if he could deport those who were criminal, get strong security safeguards in place and fix the legal system, he would be ready to look at another answer. Legalization, maybe? Something to think about.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.