Bush can't get Republican support, not with the grassroots so angry, not with his lame duck status, not with Teddy Kennedy carrying the water for it. Democrats have no incentive to cooperate. My guess is it won't even get the votes necessary for debate in the Senate.
So what happens next?
Can I offer a modest proposal? It's time for a true national summit with Mexico, in which all issues are on the table. Since Bush won't cooperate, it's completely logical for Congress-critters to step forward.
This could start with a letter to, say, Univision or Telemundo, suggesting it be done as a TV series. And if it gets some ratings, get it on NBC's fall schedule. Or, a Democratic challenger (hint hint) who wishes to distinguish themselves from the pack could go the Mexico City, meeting with government officials, with business leaders, and speaking Spanish on Mexican television.
- Drugs, which are destroying the Mexican state.
- Jobs, which Mexico doesn't have enough of.
- The hollowing-out of Mexican cities and towns, which have become dependent on payments from workers in the U.S. for their survival.
- Energy, which Mexico is still exporting to the U.S.
- Trade, and whether NAFTA should be maintained.
- Border security, both for goods and for people.
We have a 14 year-old free trade agreement with Mexico guaranteeing
the free exchange of goods across the border. That agreement has no
provision for environmental standards, so we export our manufacturing
pollutants. It has no provision for labor standards, so we export
union jobs to non-union maquiladora
. It has no provision for the movement of labor, which is the victim of wicked capital flows that have caused a "giant sucking sound" south of the border.
On the other hand Americans treat many Mexican citizens like scum, even though the vast majority are hard-working, far more like our grandparents than we are. And we've been buying up their best beach front property for years, both for retirement and so we can act all ugly at spring break. (You want to try to raise a family next to the video above?)
Point is there is enormous resentment on both sides of the border, and good reason for all that resentment. Americans face what they consider grave injustices from Mexico, and vice versa.
We need to have these out, in a civilized way. We need to look one another in the eye on this, in a civilized way. We need to be honest, both sides. Many on both sides no longer trust democracy or the democratic process. Both sides have reason for this. Many on both sides no longer trust their legal systems, because of problems which exist on the other side of the border. Both sides have reason for this.
We can't have both a free trade agreement and a de facto state of war. The road we are going on leads to the destruction of both countries, the United States and Mexico.
Somewhere, in politics, in the media, somewhere, and on both sides of the border, we have to come to this realization and start dealing with it rationally. All of it. Not just piece-by-piece, as a problem of immigration or drugs or pollution or health. All of it.
The time for demagogues is over. It's time for real answers.