A Measure of Desperation Along the Border01 Jul 2010
Pundits often refer to the months before an election as “the silly season,” because the frantic pace of political campaigns seems guaranteed to generate at least a few memorable moments of unintentional hilarity or wish-I-hadn’t-said-that political gaffes from candidates seemingly too exhausted to remember even their own names. These moments are replayed over and over in the 24-7 news cycle, and later, in reruns on YouTube. Sometimes, though, “silly” is not even the half of it, and some of what emerges in public discourse is downright disturbing.
To this latter category – we’ll call it the “crazy season” – we should add the recent pronouncement by New Mexico Congressional candidate, Tom Mullins, that perhaps we could secure our borders with a cordon sanitaire of landmines and barbed wire. (See Mine the Border? Candidate Says It’s an Option, by Tim Korte, Associated Press, 14.Jun.2010.) The AP reports that Mullins’s bizarre statement came in the course of a May 18th interview with Las Vegas radio station KNMX, and – surprisingly – did not prevent him from winning the GOP primary on June 1st.
As the Associated Press notes, Mullins later backed away from this idea, explaining that it was merely an idea he’d heard on the campaign trail, not something he actually supported. According to the Political Correction blog, Mullins nonetheless continued to describe this as “an interesting concept.” (See NM Republican’s ‘Interesting’ Idea for Border Security: Landmines, by Melinda Warner, Political Correction (blog), 16.Jun.2010.).
Rather than demonizing Mr. Mullins for his abhorrent sentiments, we should take this as a wake-up call. This does not appear to be merely the ranting of a lone crackpot with a fetish for East German border-control techniques; rather, it’s symptomatic of the anger and frustration that are brewing along our southwestern border, because Washington still has not resolved our immigration woes, and won’t be in a position to do so until after the November elections. This desperate measure is a measure of the desperation keenly felt in the border states. Congress should heed this as another warning and put comprehensive immigration reform back on the agenda as soon as possible, to prevent this seething discontent from bubbling over.