Monday, June 19, 2006
Author Interview on Changing Worldviews Talk Radio
If you missed the live broadcast on KDIA radio of my interview on Changing Worldviews Talk Radio with Sharon Hughes, you can now listen to an MP3 recording of the interview. Just click on the speaker icon. The interview is approximately 30 minutes long. The primary topic was my book, Disarming the Culture War, but we also discussed Al Gore's movie and his political future, The Da Vinci Code and the domestic political climate as we enter the fall elections.
Marriage Amendment: We Don't Need Senate Approval
Forty-five states — fully 90 percent of the United States — have enacted legislation or amended state constitutions to ensure that marriage is defined only as the union of one man and one woman.
In spite of this overwhelming national consensus, the U.S. Senate recently rejected the federal Marriage Protection Amendment, falling far short of the two-thirds supermajority required to amend the Constitution. The vote was 49 to 48, eighteen votes short of passage and light-years short of accurately reflecting the will of the American public on this issue
I think it’s time to do an end run on our out of touch senators. The framers of the Constitution wisely recognized that an alternative process to amend the Constitution might be necessary in order to bypass an unresponsive Senate. Specifically, the Constitution states that a two-thirds vote in the Senate can initiate an amendment, “or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments…”
Thus if thirty-four states support a constitutional amendment, the Senate is obligated to call a convention in which the amendment would be approved by convention delegates, essentially bypassing the Senate in the process.
Could a federal defense of marriage amendment garner the support of thirty-four states? Yes, it’s not only possible, it’s highly likely. It might not be a slam-dunk but it’s certainly a high percentage shot.
It’s a reasonably safe bet that every one of the thirty-one red states would support the amendment. After all, every one of them has implemented legislation or amendments at the state level to preserve traditional marriage. Perhaps one or two would be reluctant to make this a federal issue, but we could certainly count on around thirty votes from this group.
More importantly, fourteen blue states have also enacted either legislation or state amendments to preserve traditional marriage. Even California, among the bluest of blue states, voted convincingly to preserve traditional marriage as recently as six years ago. Doesn’t it seem likely to you that far more than the required three or four blue states would therefore support the federal amendment?
To me, this amendment process looks like a cakewalk when compared to the nearly impossible task of converting or replacing eighteen senators.
This journey to a constitutional amendment would be quite an adventure. There is no precedent to follow because the process has never been successfully invoked. Why? Primarily because elitist senators and journalists don’t want you to know that it’s possible to push them aside. They therefore avoid acknowledging that this process even exists. When forced to acknowledge it, they almost always dismiss it as a risky maneuver that would lead to a constitutional crisis. That argument is self-serving hogwash. American citizens selected as delegates would be faithful to their appointed duty. Only a group of Washington elitists would consider a state appointed delegation of American citizens a threat to American democracy.
In spite of the lack of precedent, it wouldn’t take much to pull this off. Competent leadership and management are all that is necessary. Foot soldiers are already on duty, or in reserve and ready to return to duty, in nearly every state. This dedicated army of concerned citizens has already won the battle at the state level. They would be more than willing to do it one more time in support of a national amendment that would ensure their previous efforts were not overturned by activist judges and out of touch legislators.
All this army needs is leadership and structure. The leaders of the various organizations that are dedicated to the promotion of traditional marriage in Washington need to recognize that it’s time for plan B. Stop the futile lobbying of Washington elitists and take this campaign to the people. When American citizens are allowed to vote, preservation of traditional marriage always wins.
Monday, June 05, 2006
The Proposed Border Wall: A Monument to Our Hypocrisy
Illegal immigration, like so many things in American life, is governed by the calculus of supply and demand. It’s not a perfect correlation, but it is true that the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States is largely determined by the number of jobs available for immigrants to fill. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that there are two ways to limit the flow of illegal immigration. We can build a wall to keep the illegal workers from the available jobs or we can stop giving jobs to illegal workers.
Imagine that. Illegal immigration could be substantially reduced by simply requiring that employers not hire illegal workers. In fact, if you look at it from the demand perspective, we don’t have an illegal immigration problem, we have an illegal employer problem.
Who are the law-breaking employers who have created this immigration mess? Well, it’s not the usual band of suspects and that’s what makes this such an intractable problem. It would be so much easier if we could blame the usual handful of large corporations, punish them for the crimes committed and then monitor their hiring practices to prevent them from hiring illegal workers.
It is true that some large corporations participate in hiring illegal workers, but the vast majority of illegal workers are not finding jobs in the corporate world. It doesn’t take more than a little bit of common sense to track down the law-breaking employers. In fact we all know where illegal workers are finding illegally offered jobs. We just don’t want to face up to it. The answer hits a little too close to home.
The crime in most cases is being committed by a small business owner who lives in our neighborhood and is an otherwise law-abiding citizen. He or she is a farmer hiring illegal workers to harvest crops, a construction foreman hiring illegal workers to build houses, the manager of a local motel hiring illegal workers to clean rooms, or our neighbor hiring illegal workers to take care of the lawn.
Most law-breaking employers are nice people, working hard to maintain a middle class life style. And the illegal behavior is easy to rationalize away. The employers can rightly say that it’s difficult to find legal workers to do this kind of work. They can also say that with 11 million illegal workers in the country, no harm is done by hiring two or three of them. It’s only a drop in the bucket.
Such rationalization might sound convincing but it shouldn’t be confused with justification. It is difficult to find legal workers to do these jobs because the pay and benefits are inadequate to attract legal workers. It’s easier and cheaper to hire illegal workers instead of facing up to the fact that wages need to be increased and benefits improved. And hiring two or three illegal workers might be just a drop in the bucket, but this is a bucket that has reached enormous proportions in precisely that manner: one drop at a time.
So, should we build the wall, punish the illegal employers, or some combination that manages both supply and demand? I have concluded that we should get busy building the wall. I’m a reluctant convert, but a convert nonetheless. It should be abundantly clear to everyone that we don’t have the national self-control to stop offering jobs to illegal workers. Therefore, attacking the demand side of this equation is sure to fail.
It’s too bad that we have to do it this way. Building the wall and patrolling it properly will cost a bundle and perpetuate the misconception that this is a problem only of illegal immigration. The truth is that the wall will not only serve as a barrier to illegal immigration but as a monument to our hypocrisy.