Most governing bodies devolve into the governmental theater of hot button issues

I love a good symbolic fight.
In order to stay in power, legislators have to prove to their constituents that they are working hard for them.
The legislature should try to keep citizens safe and provide an infrastructure that makes life easier for businesses and residents they govern.
But good new roads and a better finance rates on municipal bonds just aren’t very sexy. You can’t move poll numbers by doing routine – though important – tasks.
So most governing bodies devolve into the governmental theater of hot button issues. Most of these issues have no major effect on the average voter. However, they make great campaign fodder.
The Gang of Eight – a bipartisan group of Senators - has been working on an immigration solution that might be acceptable to members from both parties. However, the most conservative members will never agree to any provision to allow amnesty or a fast track to citizenship for those who have already entered the country illegally.
The math on how much illegal immigration costs the country with lost taxes and social services compared to how much cheaper some products are is sketchy at best. Agricultural products harvested or processed by illegal workers gets those products to market at a better price for consumers than if workers were paid minimum wage and state and federal employment taxes were paid. The same is true for many labor-intensive jobs in which illegal workers make up a significant portion of the work force.
How much more would consumers pay for products if illegal immigrants were taken out of the system and workers were paid legal wages?
I would love to see that study. After all, slavery was a repulsive practice but it was a huge financial boon to southern plantation owners.
The cost of the emancipation of the slaves on cotton, rice and tobacco crops was a detriment to the post Civil War economy. Could removal of cheap, illegal labor from today’s markets have a similar effect?
Slaves were trafficked by evil men and forced to work against their will. Illegal immigrants violate our immigration laws and voluntarily subject themselves substandard working conditions because they are still better off than the life they left in their home country.
Both have similar effects on the price of goods on the open market.
Despite emails that circulated Wednesday saying the Republicans were “only four votes from killing immigration reform,” the Gang of Eight bill plus its amendments passed the Senate 68-32. Despite the wide margin in the senior chamber, Speaker John Boehner has publicly stated that he won’t bring any bill to the floor in the House of Representatives that includes amnesty provisions or a fast track to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the county.
The states also wanted to get in on the fun.
The Texas state legislature didn’t think immigration was controversial enough so they took on the abortion issue. Thanks to a 13-hour filibuster by Sen. Wendy (Pink Shoes) Davis – who has become the hero of pro-choice voters and a villain to the pro-life movement - the measure to eliminate abortions after a pregnancy advances past the 20-week mark didn’t get passed during their regular session.
Now, not to be outshined in the spotlight, Gov. Rick Perry has called for a special session to attempt to pass the bill. This will cost Texas thousands of dollars as lawmakers return to the capital.
I have no problem with the idea of fewer abortions – in Texas or any other state. But thanks to Roe v. Wade and other court rulings on abortion rights, I doubt this bill would survive judicial review. It would probably be an expensive exercise in futility.
I would prefer Texas use the proactive side of the coin to fight abortion by supporting groups similar to our local Pregnancy Care Center to encourage women who have “the right to choose” to choose to carry their child to term.
Adoption beats abortion in every case. Outlawing abortion is only tackling half the problem. Some women and girls will still have unwanted pregnancies and they will need support from somewhere.
Time and energy would be better used in that direction.
The Supreme Court also didn’t want to miss out on a chance to make the front page so they finally got around to making half of a decision on same-sex marriage.
One ruling allowed same-sex couples to have federal marital benefits and in the other case, the court refused to hear the challenge to California’s Prop 8 which left a lower court’s ruling in place that basically allows gay marriage in the state.
All these rulings do is open the door for state-by-state challenges. This is going to be a heated and expensive process.
Gay couples will have to go to pro-same sex marriage states, exchange vows and return to their home states to sue for their rights to be recognized.
Whether you want to protect traditional marriage or open the door to all civil unions, this is not going to be pretty.
I always worry before I say this, but I agree with Rush Limbaugh.
We are spending all of our time talking about abortion, gun control, immigration, same-sex marriage and celebrity murder cases.
But no one is talking about jobs or the economy.
When constituents aren’t focused, I understand. But I can’t excuse their representatives.

Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He  can be contacted at: