Friday, September 21, 2012

How do you define “fix?”

Remember that moment during the whole Monica Lewinsky fiasco when then-President Bill Clinton tried to explain a point by saying we needed a definition of the word “is.”

I couldn’t help but feel the same level of confusion when I learned that Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told a television audience that he will “fix” immigration policy in this nation.

YET HE WAS remarkably silent as to what constitutes a fix. Which makes me wonder if his definition of “fix” is far removed from anything that rational people would view as legitimate reform of the policy.

For the fact is that our nation’s immigration policy is a bureaucratic mess. Nobody seriously denies that there is room for improvement. But what constitutes improvement is the point that splits us up as a society.

There are some people whose idea of a “fix” would literally be a mass deportation of the roughly 11 million people (nobody knows the exact figure) believed to be living in this country without a valid visa. Some might even want a deportation of more individuals whom they think should not have U.S. citizenship.

Now I’m not saying that Romney is defining “fix” as anything resembling that. Although I don’t doubt that appeasing those people with anything he does for a “fix” is going to be a priority for him.

SO THE FACT that Romney is saying he’ll “fix” immigration without giving us a clue as to what he would do (which is exactly what he said, and didn’t say, during a recent interview with the Univision television network) has to make me wonder what is going through his mind.

I understand his intent. He wants to put it in the minds of Latinos that if elected president, he’ll try to do something that would improve the situation related to the issue.

Perhaps then he might actually get a few more percentage points worth of the Latino vote come Nov. 6. Not that Romney wants to “win” the Latino vote. If he did, he’d be obligated to do something on our support.

Offering that would definitely tick off the people who are inclined to cast their ballots for him come Election Day. Because they’re the ones who have a problem with the idea that the flaw with our immigration policy is that it is a bureaucratic mess.

OUR NATION LITERALLY has a policy that says some members of a family can be “legal” and other members have to go. That contradiction is what has the Roman Catholic Church – which on many other issues sides with the ideologues of our society – on the side of serious immigration reform.

But what does Romney really think?

There have been some suggestions that he’d be willing to give some support to those non-citizens who do a stint in the U.S. military, but doesn’t think others are worth any aid.

And there is all his primary season campaign rhetoric when he was trying to appeal to a voter base that at various points gave its preference to people like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – the latter of whom may have had the most legitimate interest in the growing Latino population.

THAT CONFUSION IS why Romney is going to do so badly amongst Latinos in a few weeks – it has nothing to do with the fact that his parents were “Americans born in Mexico” rather than ethnic Mexicans, like he’d like us to believe.

There’s nothing he can say in coming weeks that will shift that attitude. Not even if he tries to cover up the issue in vagueness.

I’m not alone in thinking that Romney’s “fix” talk more seriously if we had a clue as to what he meant.

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