Jewish World Review August 11, 2010 1 Elul, 5770
Graham sharpening the scalpel to cut his own party's throat
By Roger Simon
And that's because the likelihood of a constitutional amendment actually being ratified these days is about the same as Lindsay Lohan winning "Jeopardy!"
But just because something is nearly impossible doesn't mean you can't find a politician willing to promise it.
Sick and tired of hordes of pregnant illegal immigrants sneaking into our country so they can have babies who automatically become American citizens under the 14th Amendment?
Well, let's change the 14th Amendment by passing a new amendment! Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News a couple of weeks ago: "I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here. Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child's automatically not a citizen."
Asked if he was really serious about introducing an amendment, Graham said, "I got to."
Given the Postal Service's new Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, it might be physically easier to ship babies back to their mother's country of origin, but passing a new amendment is very, very difficult.
Since the Constitution took effect in 1789, there have been more than 11,000 attempts to amend it. But do you know how many have been ratified in those 221 years? Just 27, and that includes the Bill of Rights, the first 10.
True, the last one, the 27th Amendment, dealing with congressional pay raises, was finally ratified in 1992. But it was first proposed in 1789.
So if you have a pet peeve and a couple of hundred years or so to wait, a constitutional amendment is definitely the way to go.
For politicians, supporting a constitutional amendment is often a way of getting loonies off their backs. So it was with the "Flag Burning Amendment," better known as the solution without a problem.
Admitting that nobody was actually going around burning flags anymore, lawmakers wanted them to stop doing it anyway. At least in election years. And because the Supreme Court has ruled that burning the flag is a form of free speech, year after year lawmakers have sought to pass an amendment banning flag desecration so they could go back home and tell voters they made America safe for flags.
Such an amendment has never passed. But fooling around with the 14th Amendment, as Graham and others now say they "got to" do, is a lot more important and emotional to a lot more people because the 14th Amendment is so critical to the life of our nation (think anti-slavery, due process of law, applying the Bill of Rights to the states, the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education, etc.).
Some Republicans have made public statements similar to Graham's, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has tried to soft-pedal the issue. And maybe that's because McConnell is looking at the bigger picture.
The Hispanic vote grows more powerful in this country every year. Our four largest states by population are California, Texas, New York and Florida. Our four largest states ranked by Hispanic population are California, Texas, Florida and New York.
In presidential elections, two of those states, New York and California, have been reliably Democratic. One, Texas, has been reliably Republican, and one, Florida, leans Republican.
But the significant Hispanic populations in Texas and Florida could turn those states Democratic. And immigration may be the issue that starts the turning. True, a significant percentage of the Hispanic population in Florida is Cuban-American, and Cuban immigrants are affected by different laws. But attacks on immigrants and the citizenship status of their children easily could be an issue that unifies Hispanics.
If that happens, here is the simple arithmetic: Between them, California, Texas, Florida and New York currently have 147 electoral votes, or 54 percent of the votes you need to win the presidency.
So a Republican candidate for president could start off in a hole that he or she could never climb out of.
Whipping up the base with talk about getting tough on illegal immigrants and their "anchor babies" through constitutional amendments may sound like a good idea to some Republicans now, but they may just be sharpening the scalpel to cut their own party's throat.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate