Today's political landscape is characterized by partisans who address folks not as Americans but as voting blocs of groups that share self-interests.
Yet we know there are occasions that dissolve political differences and unite us as the great nation we truly are, namely the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. American flags flew from front porches, and our national leaders committed to a shared goal.
The executive amnesty of up to 5 million illegal immigrants announced last week by President Barack Obama can create such a time, if leaders will make the commitment.
America was founded as a nation of immigrants seeking a better life, seeking equal opportunities, wanting to provide for their families now and in the future. These immigrants left their nations of origin, assimilated in our culture by learning English and committed to the rule of law of their new home and sovereign nation, America.
While immigration continues and the same pursuit of "better" and "best" continues, the commitment to assimilate in a great nation through language, traditions and allegiance has waned dramatically over recent years.
The math surrounding the current influx of millions who have entered our nation illegally is simple. Millions with little to no education seeking low-wage jobs have poured into our country at a time when 92 million citizens are out of work. These new residents have driven wages down and burdened the budgets of state governments with higher education, health care and infrastructure costs. Who picks up the tab? Citizens who observe the law.
American citizens, and those who are in the legal process to become naturalized citizens, who abide by our laws and pay taxes, see the laughable attempt to rationalize and pardon those who make a deliberate decision to enter our sovereign nation illegally. These same Americans are growing tired.
A few facts: When polled, Americans support legal immigration. When surveyed, Americans do not want those individuals here herded up and shipped back to their country of origin or treated in any manner that's inhumane. Americans want our laws observed and enforced with our sovereign borders secure.
A few more facts: Any solution that does not establish the security of our borders before any other action simply means there is no immigration policy, only a set of arbitrary rules applied for some and ignored for others. Further, any solution that suggests citizenship down the road with a fast-track for worker status before criminal background checks are passed, taxes are paid, and allows access to welfare or any American taxpayer support at the state or federal level is, indeed, amnesty.
Regarding policy, the Obama amnesty is, even in his own words, unconstitutional. And while he blames Republicans, the president enjoyed Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate in both 2009 and 2010 and yet failed to enact immigration reform of his choosing.
In knowing there have been and are occasions for citizens to function as Americans rather than partisans, I pose two questions: Will America see her leaders voice their opposition to these unlawful acts or condone Obama's actions through silence or active support? And will America see her leaders unite to create a policy for legal immigration that protects our nation and honors our laws and those who so faithfully observe them?
Our greatest days are ahead if America enjoys leadership committed to govern and do so under the law.
Robin Smith, immediate past Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.