You kids may not remember this, but there was a time when Republicans spoke in complete sentences. Back when I was a kid, we had Republican leadership figures who thought about stuff. We had men and women in GOP politics with some minimal consciousness of consequences, causes and effects, and math. We also listened to the Eagles on 8-track stereo. It was a glorious time to be alive.
Now we have endless music on our phones and Republican Congressmen who don’t understand the economic principles that make insurance work. Progress is a mixed bag.
Ronald Reagan liked immigrants. So did most Republicans. When you listen to Reagan explain the subject in his own words you realize why he won 49 states in 1984, and why no Republican apart from his VP has reached 51% since then.
This is the immigration policy Reagan outlined in 1981 and followed throughout his Administration:
These principles are designed to preserve our tradition of accepting foreigners to our shores, but to accept them in a controlled and orderly fashion:
• We shall continue America’s tradition as a land that welcomes peoples from other countries. We shall also, with other countries, continue to share in the responsibility of welcoming and resettling those who flee oppression.
• At the same time, we must ensure adequate legal authority to establish control over immigration: to enable us, when sudden influxes of foreigners occur, to decide to whom we grant the status of refugee or asylee; to improve our border control; to expedite (consistent with fair procedures and our Constitution) return of those coming here illegally; to strengthen enforcement of our fair labor standards and laws; and to penalize those who would knowingly encourage violation of our laws. The steps we take to further these objectives, however, must also be consistent with our values of individual privacy and freedom.
• We have a special relationship with our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Our immigration policy should reflect this relationship.
• We must also recognize that both the United States and Mexico have historically benefited from Mexicans obtaining employment in the United States. A number of our States have special labor needs, and we should take these into account.
• Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.
• We shall strive to distribute fairly, among the various localities of this country, the impacts of our national immigration and refugee policy, and we shall improve the capability of those agencies of the Federal Government which deal with these matters.
• We shall seek new ways to integrate refugees into our society without nurturing their dependence on welfare.
• Finally, we recognize that immigration and refugee problems require international solutions. We will seek greater international cooperation in the resettlement of refugees and, in the Caribbean Basin, international cooperation to assist accelerated economic development to reduce motivations for illegal immigration.
Immigration and refugee policy is an important part of our past and fundamental to our national interest. With the help of the Congress and the American people, we will work towards a new and realistic immigration policy, a policy that will be fair to our own citizens while it opens the door of opportunity for those who seek a new life in America.
Republicans were the party of sober businessmen. Now we are the party of your rambling, bigoted uncle. How nice would it be to live once again under a leader who spoke and acted with that level of consideration and humanity? Maybe we will again someday.
In a democracy, we will always have the leaders we deserve.