Monday, November 26, 2007

The Old Rudy

David Brooks in the New York Times takes Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to task for changing who he is in order to play to his audience. In 1996, then Mayor Giuliani gave a speech before the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, in which he said:

“I’m pleased to be with you this evening to talk about the anti-immigrant movement in America,” he said, “and why I believe this movement endangers the single most important reason for American greatness, namely, the renewal, reformation and reawakening that’s provided by the continuous flow of immigrants.”

Giuliani continued: “I believe the anti-immigrant movement in America is one of our most serious public problems.” It can “be seen in legislation passed by Congress and the president.” (Republicans had just passed a welfare reform law that restricted benefits to legal immigrants.) “It can be seen in the negative attitudes being expressed by many of the politicians.”

It should come as no surprise that a kid like Rudy, who grew up in the ethnic enclaves of New York, would have such an affinity for immigrants in America. He even had a passionate, yet entirely rational and reasonable defense of his making NYC a "sanctuary city":

“There are times,” he declared, “when undocumented aliens must have a substantial degree of protection.” They must feel safe sending their children to school. They should feel safe reporting crime to the police. “Similarly, illegal and undocumented immigrants should be able to seek medical help without the threat of being reported. When these people are sick, they are just as sick and just as contagious as citizens.”

In my estimation, this whole "illegal immigration crisis" didn't really begin to come into fruition until after the 2004 elections, when Republicans on talk radio realized they could blame the Country's problems on Democrats, and they didn't want to blame them on President Bush, so they found a new called "illegal immigrants."

Now, because of the movement Rudy decried, which started on talk radio, and spread to the supposedly "liberal" CNN and beyond, very few candidates will ever give a passionate defense for a rational and compassionate immigration policy.

While this may sound elitist, I'll go ahead and say it anyways, it is time for our leaders to lead again, not follow. Our country was founded under the principles of the Republic, which taught that representatives were supposed to be the brightest and most qualified people, and they should lead based on the interests of all people, not simply be lead by the "mob". If the public sentiment is against a certain policy or proposal, which through all objective measures shows it would be better for the public at large (such as requiring undocumented immigrants to take driving exams) than it should be up to the leaders, the politicians, to stand for the policy and try and explain to the people why it is necessary.

Fear and suspicion are generally much easier sentiments for a politician to exploit, but that doesn't mean that people like Rudy Giuliani, or any other Presidential candidate, should do it. It is time the people reward honesty in their political leaders, rather than rewarding exploitation of fear, and poll driven policies.

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