First off, everybody just calm down. The title does not refer to the Republican Party. It refers to one of those “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, or “Why does a fireman wear red suspenders?” type questions. Those questions where the answer is so obvious everyone in involved thinks it’s a trick question.
Unfortunately, the elephant that I’m referring to is not a circus performer. The elephant is the ridiculously huge legislative efforts that have been forced on the country over and over and over again. Obamacare is probably one of the most flagrant examples of elephantiasis that is frequently contracted by legislation. Oddly, it’s ironic that the dictionary definition of elephantiasis is phrased this way “a chronic…disease… characterized by marked enlargement of the parts affected”.
Sadly for America, while the elephant itself is not a circus performer, such legislation has invariably been drafted by clowns.
Imagine, if you will, that we asked Congress to create a law describing a perfect car. The law would probably describe the perfect car, but would take 4000 pages of regulations to accomplish such a feat. Some congressmen and senators would insist the law mandate a mileage requirement of 85 miles per gallon. Other legislators would demand this new law would require a passenger capacity of nine people to accommodate drivers with large families. Still more legislators would insist the law mandate that this ideal vehicle runs on seawater.
What we end up with is a completely unworkable law. This new law’s saving grace, in the eyes of politicians, would be that they could claim to “have fixed the challenge of the century and given America the perfect car”. Of course, the president of the United States would claim credit for signing such idiotic legislation. Then all of them could wash their hands of this particular challenge and tell us some cabinet secretary and his crackerjack staff would fill in the regulatory blanks that are necessary to actually produce such a vehicle.
Listening to all the political candidates who are running for president in both parties, this scenario for “solving” the immigration problem that faces America are planning on using the very same scenario in their plan (whatever it might be) so they can claim to be both brilliant and the author of such extensive legislation.
They kind of skip past the whole “debate” part of the process. How can you debate, in its entirety, a 3,000 or 4,000 page explanation of every single element within that legislation?
Looking back on Obamacare, not only was there no extended debate, many members of Congress never even read the Affordable Care Act before they voted on it. And when the legislation is so enormous, it gives them the opportunity to respond to complaints from their constituents about any part of it that they (a) weren’t given enough time to read it and (b) agreed with the voter that they didn’t like that particular part, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote against it when there was just so much really, really good stuff in the bill.
Of course there was.
Which brings us back to the “trick” question, “How do you eat an elephant?” And the answer to that question is always the same, “One bite at a time.”
Applied to the question of immigration in this country, why don’t we break down the problem into its components? Don’t you think it might be helpful if before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to admit those who wish to come to America, if we decided how many people in total do we need to admit? That particular question, in its simplest terms can be answered with a single page of legislation. It might be answered with as little as a single sentence, something akin to:
Immigration to America, sought for the purpose of (a) permanently moving to America and (b) becoming a citizen, shall be limited to 75,000 people annually.
The only point to be debated is the number 75,000. Is it too few, is it too many, or is it the Goldilocks value, i.e., “just right”?
Let me just say that again.
The only point in this law that will be debated is the actual number. Nothing else. The bill should not consider multiple components, only one.
At that point both houses will vote and they will have either come to an agreement on the number or they will continue the debate. Once they have an agreement, they would vote again to pass this particular legislation limiting the number of immigrants allowed in the country and submit the bill to the president. Assuming the president signs the legislation, it becomes federal law. It will probably be the most easily understood federal law ever passed.
If, in the future, the government decides well we really need to open up immigration by 50,000 more people, then they will go through the same method to pass a new law and repeal the existing law. One component of an overall policy, and only one. This isn’t brain surgery.
Then they should move on to the next item on the immigration agenda. This item might be residency requirements, or a definition of exactly which people are considered “family” and might be allowed in because of their family connection to someone who has already been allowed to immigrate to the United States, or other details. Each of these definitions would have to be passed as individual laws. Is that asking too much from professionals, from college graduates, from men and women who have years of experience drafting legislation? I don’t think it is.
But if the definitions are being treated as separate, individual acts of law ensures, to a greater degree, will improve our ability to modify a single component of an overall immigration policy without creating a standard “oops” moment that happens all too often when our Congress tries to do everything in one document. And since Congress will have to vote separately to change that one law, that one component, the American people will be able to clearly see who voted for the change and who voted against it. That alone should make the next election cycle very exciting.
That, my fellow citizens is, in my opinion, the best way to “eat that damn elephant”.