My Issue with the Republican Party

Sarah Palin. Rand Paul. Michele Bachmann. Jim DeMint. These Republicans, along with many of their ultra-conservative counterparts, represent everything that is wrong with the modern GOP.

Since the formation of the Tea Party, I’ve come to seriously doubt the long-term viability of the Republican Party’s platform. Despite representing a nation built on a compromise, the GOP refuses to move to the center.

Outspoken politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have destroyed the image of the Republican Party. Their loud and boisterous political statements have alienated the moderate and independent voters necessary to winning elections. On important issues like immigration, the Party has refused to budge from its ideological “high-ground,” and in doing so, has alienated moderate conservatives such as myself.

I’ve always been interested in immigration policy, and it’s an issue I feel very strongly about. As many of you know, I completely disagree with the Republican Party when it comes to illegal immigration. While the GOP offers deportation and militarized border fences as solutions to the problem, I support an amnesty program that would grant all non-violent illegal immigrants citizenship.

The party’s stance flies in the face of social justice and, I believe, degrades Latinos who enter this country merely to put food on the table. What Republicans refuse to acknowledge is that most illegal Mexican immigrants come to this country because they have no other choice. The choice to leave their native land is not easy; they don’t want to leave their home. They leave because it’s the only way they can ensure the survival of their families. They come here to make a life, and escape the brutal drug cartels that now control most of Mexico.

Why is it so wrong to show them compassion? What the Republican Party forgets in their zealous calls for deportation is that these people are humans. If your family was starving to death in a country controlled by drug lords, what would you do? As the stronger and more prosperous nation, we have a moral obligation to help these people. Deporting illegal immigrants to the often-dangerous countries they fled from is a moral crime that easily surpasses that of illegal immigration.

Furthermore, I ask, what do we accomplish by deporting these people back to their homelands, those places from which they fled? We force them back into countries riddled with crime and poverty. How can we, as citizens of a safe and prosperous nation, refuse to listen to the cries of those people who need our help?

The vast majority of illegal immigrants do not come here to steal our jobs; they come to survive. They don’t take the jobs every American dreams of; they take the jobs we dread. They work the fields from dawn to dusk; they work in our slaughterhouses and feedlots, killing the animals we consume; they labor in scorching heat, building our homes and office buildings. Have this nation fallen so far that we want to prosecute people whose only “crime” is wanting to keep their families alive?

I understand that these people technically break the law when they enter our country; I get that. However, as Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly stated, “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Our immigration laws, laws that force Latino immigrants to suffer the horrors of poverty and joblessness without the chance of a better life, are unjust. As St. Augustine wrote, “a law that is not just, seems to be no law at all.” These laws are no laws at all.

My position on immigration is meant to highlight a severe disagreement I have with the Republican Party.  I pride myself on being a moderate Republican, a breed of conservative that’s slowly being pushed out of the GOP. The recent fiscal cliff debacle proved that reaching across the aisle is no longer acceptable in the Republican Party. In fact, looking at the long list of moderate Republicans who lost primary bids in 2012, it’s evident that conservative support for compromise is dead.

I don’t want the GOP to become an exclusively far-right political movement. This hope, more than anything else, is the reason I created The Elephant in the Corner in the first place. I want to hold positions like the one I just detailed and still feel comfortable as a member of the Republican Party. My dreams aren’t far-fetched; compromise and “moderation” are possible. We just need to find them.