The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “reform”

Jeb Bush as the New Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Johnson had a dream. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson moved speedily to embody Kennedy’s vision for the country. After Roosevelt’s New Deal, Johnson’s vision for a post-Kennedy country was as ambitious as FDR’s. With only 11 months before the elections of 1964, Johnson had to prove to the country that his presidency wasn’t just due to Kennedy’s departure, but that he also deserved a chance by his own merits to lead the country for four more years. Johnson wooed Congress to pass his agenda. He continued JFK’s vision for a Civil Right’s Act, which was passed. Johnson also instituted a vision for a Great Society, which included a War on Poverty. At that moment, Liberalism’s goal to crown the Federal Government as the giver of life was achieved in a way Roosevelt could not.

Under Johnson’s presidency, Liberalism gained a powerful ally. The following agenda reveals the genesis of some of our current woes:

  • The Wilderness Protection Act saved 9.1 million acres of forestland from industrial development.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided major funding for American public school.
  • The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods of denying suffrage to African Americans.
  • Medicare was created to offset the costs of health care for the nation’s elderly.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities used public money to fund artists and galleries.
  • The Immigration Act ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
  • An Omnibus Housing Act provided funds to construct low-income housing.
  • Congress tightened pollution controls with stronger Air and Water Quality Acts.
  • Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.

Vietnam, of course, shattered Johnson’s vision for a New Heaven and Earth. Now the attention of a nation was drawn to the disastrous Vietnam War.

Jeb Bush’s Vision

In some ways, Democrats have attempted to continue the Johnson legacy. They have succeeded. $16.5 Trillion in debt reveals that the Democratic leaders paid careful attention to Johnson’s blueprint for the nation. But we have come to expect this type of consistent ideology from Democrats.

Enters Jeb Bush.

The former Governor has been deeply engaged in talks about a 2016 run. In comments made towards immigration Reform, the former Governor of Florida extolled Johnson’s skills as a legislator. Breitbart quotes Bush’s assessment of Johnson:

“He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,’’ Bush said of Johnson.

To be fair, Bush did not praise Johnson’s Great Society or War on Poverty, but Bush’s invoking of Johnson positively in any way reminds Conservatives and Moral Libertarians of the misdirected attempts of healing the nation through unconstitutional means. It prompts us to ask, “what keeps Bush from incarnating Johnson’s presidency not only in the immigration issue, but other important matters as well? ”

Of course, the best read of this situation is that he is arguing for a hands-on presidency (like Johnson’s) in an attempt to discredit Obama’s hands-off presidency. But forgive the political pessimism from my perspective, but I seem to have a general distrust of the Bush brand of political reform.

Immigration, Amnesty, and the Bible

The Senate has proposed–through some mini-caucus known as the Senate “Gang of Eight”–an immigration reform bill that has big support from the President, enough that he’s not going to offer his own proposal. The proposal begins with bipartisan support because the group is made up of four Republicans (McCain, Graham, Rubio, and Flake) and four Democrats (Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, and Bennet). Although, it having bipartisan support across Congress is less than promising.

The proposal is essentially one that mandates secure borders. Upon securing the border, a trigger is enacted that would give legal status to the approximately 11 million illegals living within the United States currently.

The proposal seems to be in opposition to the typical position held by conservatives: secure borders, no amnesty. Conservatives argue that while America is known as a melting pot of civilizations, no melting pot can remain a sovereign nation without protecting its values (such as a common language, religious values–on a very basic, general level, political ideas–typified in the Constitution, and patriotic loyalty. These things can be protected while the melting pot continues in diversity so long as the influx of diversity is restricted enough that the immigrants have time to be assimilated before their views can become the majority view.

Liberals, on the other hand, see it more along the lines of a human rights issue. These people came here for the chance to succeed and prosper and that’s what we have to offer, the “American Dream.” We cannot refuse a chance at the dream to someone just because we don’t like the minority background–a violation of human rights. It would be wrong to uproot these people (the 11 million illegal immigrants) from their homes, families, careers, churches, and communities simply because we don’t like the way they got here. They are already part of the melting pot, and doing just fine.

Libertarians–while far from a monolithic group–look at it from a slightly different perspective. America is made up of private property and private property holders. The government has no authority over private property and cannot restrict access to it. Thus, if I am a private property owner, I have the right to allow whomever I choose on my property, or to buy my property, or to be employed on my property. This means I can employ, sell to, or rent to anyone, regardless of their point of origin. The 11 million illegal immigrants are illegal based on the arbitrary rules of a government that is violating my private property rights when it makes such rules. The rule is, by definition, an illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust rule, and therefore should be reformed.

What needs to be considered in analyzing the “Gang of Eight’s” proposal is not whether the Democratic President Obama likes it, nor whether it was written by Democrats, Republicans, or both. It is not necessary to know whether FoxNews agrees with it or CNN or MSNBC or the Huffington Post or Drudge Report. What needs to be examined are the philosophical, theological, and political underpinnings of why one is in favor of or opposed to immigration.

For example, if you would normally take the conservative view, would you consistently apply those same arguments to the Church? Would you try to justify refusing Church membership to a large group of Chinese converts because they language, religious views, and values they would bring to your local congregation might overpower the values of the congregation currently?

If you would normally take the liberal view, would you consistently apply those same arguments to your own home? If someone just moved in and began homesteading on your property, would you refuse to have them forcibly removed on the basis of basic human rights?

If you would normally take the libertarian view, would you make no room for restricting the borders for concerns of national security? Should the borders at least be patrolled, if not to stop immigrants from access to private property holders, then at least to be surveyed for potential threats to national security (suitcase nukes, dirty bombs, chemical weapons, etc.)?

Finally, we must ask questions about the unintended consequences of our reform. If this reform basically states that we are going to start securing our borders, and once we do any and all illegal immigrants currently within our borders will become legal, then aren’t we basically offering a huge carrot for a mad rush of illegal immigration to push across the borders now, before they become secure, in order to receive that amnesty? And, if we are, does it matter? Should we even be trying to stop them by securing the borders anyway?

The Bible is silent on securing the border or restricting immigration. It does, however, teach the assimilation of strangers into the culture of the nation, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:34).

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