In the GOP Presidential Debate last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked once again about his decision to give in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants in the State of Texas. Perry points out that only four legislators voted against it in the legislature and the plan had bi-partisan support, including from very conservative Republicans. That was all true. He then took the “convince me” train and threw it off the tracks. “I don’t think you have a heart,” he said, if you oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Facepalm.
His position on the issue itself isn’t without merit. Obviously, those kids were brought in against their own will – often at ages as young as a few months old. They didn’t break any laws; their parents did. Furthermore, Texas decided sovereignly, without any federal interference, that it was willing to invest money in those children so they are less likely to use up state resources when they are older.
Plenty of people would disagree with that position, namely because it doesn’t exactly discourage people from bringing their kids to Texas illegally. On the other hand, a good financial argument could possibly be made. It’s a reasonable explanation, even if you don’t agree with it. It’s an intelligent explanation. Rick Perry can disagree with the conservative base of the party from time to time; he just can’t be an anti-intellectual buffoon. Conservatives will forgive him on this one issue if he is conservative enough on others–and he doubtlessly is.
But the “heartless” argument is the same argument that Democrats and liberals have used mindlessly for years. “If you don’t support our handouts, you don’t have a heart. If you don’t want to give half of your paycheck away, you must hate poor people.” We conservatives are sick of it! We know that true compassion is much different than this fake, gimme something free compassion that enslaves entire generations to their government.
If Mr. Perry wants to win, he’ll start appealing more to the intellectual part of the Republican Party – the conservative base. That might mean some debate prep time (oh, horror) or time spent reading some books. Or, he can hand the nomination to Cain, Bachmann or Gingrich. It’s Perry’s choice. What I do know is this: I’ll gladly vote for a nominee who disagrees with me 25% of the time but has an intellectually consistent argument each time. I won’t vote for a primary selection who disagrees with me just 5% of the time but is completely brain dead in his explanation. That’s much more frightening to me.
Your call, Governor Perry.
Nicholas Stehle is a contributor to The Arkansas Patriot and serves on the Board of Directors of Arkansas Carry. He is a concealed carry instructor in the state of Arkansas and an advocate for multiple conservative causes. Check out his tweets and his blog, A New Approach.