Most states will issue a form of driver’s license to those who are barred from driving, either legally or due to some physical impairment. These documents bear a prominent notice that they do not authorize the bearer to actually drive a motor vehicle. Some wags call them “walkers’ licenses.”
To those unfamiliar with American culture, this must seem absurd. Why would citizens who have no intention of operating a motor vehicle apply to their local Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license that says they cannot drive?
The issue begins to make more sense if you reach the front of the security line at your local airport and find yourself asked for a “government-issued photo ID.” Try to respond to this pointless request (see the Nov. 15 Washington Post report that GAO investigators are still able to smuggle bomb components past any and all TSA goons with impunity) by showing any government-issued photo ID other than a driver’s license. Within seconds, you’ll almost certainly be impatiently asked, “Don’t you have a drivers license”?
And there you have it. Possession of a driver’s license doesn’t really certify you can drive safely – as America’s accident rate attests. But it is the sine qua non, the de factor “government-issued photo ID” most generally accepted as evidence that you’re a bona fide resident of these United States, trustworthy to cash a check, present a credit card, etc.
It’s the internal passport which our government masters long swore up and down they would never require.
Thus the massive wave of public outrage which seems to catch career bureaucrats like former prosecutor and current New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer – and even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – unawares when they propose that everything be tidied up and regularized through the simple expedient of issuing drivers licenses to the millions of illegal aliens who have snuck into the United States and are currently masquerading as legal residents.
To the bureaucratic mind, nothing could be more obvious: These people are here, snarling up the legal liability system by driving around and getting into accidents, at which point it’s determined they have no auto insurance because they have no auto registration because they’re unable to get either because they can’t get a driver’s license because they’re here illegally.
So: Simply issue them drivers’ licenses.
In Albany, Gov. Spitzer proposed that two months ago. His state’s junior senator, Mrs. Bill Clinton, infamously declared in last week’s Democratic candidate debate that she “understood why he’s doing this.”
As a result, Mrs. Clinton has spent the past week – just as Gov. Spitzer has spent the past two months – getting whacked like a birthday pinata.
Though he still acted defiant – which is to say, “uncomprehending” – Mr. Spitzer showed up in Washington Wednesday, admitting defeat and anxious to drop the whole thing.
“Political opponents equated minimum-wage, undocumented dishwashers with Osama bin Laden,” sneered a largely unrepentant Spitzer.
But voters didn’t. What outrages a huge groundswell of American voters is the smug assertion that “After all, we can’t round them all up and send them home.” Many Americans – watching these invaders parade in the streets with their foreign flags under the protection of the very police who should be arresting them, loudly bellowing that free schooling and free emergency-room health care for their families are not enough – simply ask, “Why not?”
Newsday reports the federal government is unlikely to solve the problem because it’s “deadlocked on immigration reform.”
But why should it be impossible to enforce the law until the law is “reformed”? When President Eisenhower rounded up and deported a few thousands illegals in “Operation Wetback” in 1953, hundreds of thousands more saw the handwriting on the wall and turned for home. No one needed to “reform the law” then.
Gov. Spitzer was elected last year with 69 percent of the vote. In part thanks to his tone-deaf stand on illegal immigrants, his public approval rating recently tumbled to 33 percent. In liberal New York.
Nine in 10 New York voters have read or heard about the governor’s drivers license plan, according to the Siena New York poll. They oppose it by a margin of 70 to 25. Even Democrats oppose the plan, 55-36.
“The move represented a stunning reversal for him and a relief to nervous Democrats watching Republicans feast on the debate,” reported Newsday, a reliably Democratic outlet, on the governor’s surrender.
And there’s the point. Democrats had been insisting this issue could harm Republicans in the coming election, since President Bush was unsuccessful in pushing another amnesty measure, and has now fallen back on at least partially enforcing the law.
Democrats would fare much better at the polls, according to this thinking, with their “compassionate” plans to grant amnesty to anyone who’s managed to sneak into the country ahead of all the English-speaking architects, engineers and Ph.D.s patiently waiting in line in Estonia, Romania, India, and Liberia. The public would much prefer such compassion to the attitude of the nasty old Republicans, who can’t seem to see the benefit of handing out brand new voter registration cards to illiterates fresh off the marijuana truck from Mazatlan.
Funny thing, though. It doesn’t seem to be working out that way.