Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) must be rolling in his grave. The conservative Republican senator from Arizona ran for President in 1964 on a platform condemning "Big Government". As a kid, I read Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative" and came away with a strong conviction that America was founded on the principle of individual freedom, and that no matter what the perceived threat was, internal or external, American citizens should beware of "trusting the government" rather than upholding our rights as individuals.
Today, the citizens of the State of Arizona are justifiably upset about the violence caused by Mexican drug cartels and coyotes who smuggle illegal immigrants into the U.S. So upset that yesterday, the Arizona Governor signed a bill into law which would require all persons in Arizona to carry proof of their legal status in the U.S. Police would be required to check the paperwork of persons who they suspect of being present in the U.S. unlawfully.
Why aren't the citizens of Arizona protesting in the streets of Phoenix and Tucson about Big Brother and this governmental intrusion into our individual rights?
After all, how many of us routinely carry our U.S. passports or birth certificates every time we go to work, take our kids to school or go out to a movie? The only time that I ever carry my passport is when I travel out of the country. If I lose my passport, how long before I got another one? And how much do I have to pay? No way am I going to carry my passport with me every time I work out at the gym!
I have the feeling that most U.S. citizens in Arizona are not going to carry around their passports with them either. Since most Americas have never bothered to get a passport, this is probably a pretty safe bet. So, why aren't these people alarmed about the new law?
Probably because they don't have foreign accents. If a police officer pulls them over for a speeding ticket, and in the unlikely event that they are asked for proof of their citizenship, they can smile and answer "Officer, I was born in Phoenix. I went through school here, and I work at the local bank. I am so American that I'm voting for J.D. Hayworth against John McCain because John is too soft on illegal aliens." The officer will probably smile and send them on their way.
But suppose that the U.S. citizen is Hispanic or Asian or European and speaks with an accent. Same facts as above, except that the officer is not sure if the person is a citizen. "I was born in Mexico, but I became a naturalized U.S. citizen over ten years ago. I would carry my Certificate of Naturalization with me, but I have it framed on the wall in my computer room. Please let me call my wife on my cell phone, and she'll read the certificate number to you." But he can't reach his wife because she is picking up the kids from school. The officer responds, "I'm real sorry sir, but you know that you are legally required to carry proof of citizenship with you. I'm afraid that I am going to have to take you down to the station."
However, no one can deny that the new law forces us, for the first time, to carry around documents proving our citizenship or immigration status. If this isn't a government power-grab, I don't know what is.
If the average person felt personally threatened by the new law, the Arizona legislature never would have passed it and the governor would not have signed it. Fortunately, the law really doesn't apply to you or me, but only to the "other guy".
Shame on all of us for not standing up for traditional American freedoms. Arizona's Governor should formally apologize to Senator Barry Goldwater.
This is a sad day for America.