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Have Republicans forgotten past ideals?

Published: Monday, October 3, 2011

Updated: Monday, October 3, 2011 17:10

Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry suggested last week during a debate that opponent Mitt Romney (former Massachusetts governor who ran for president in 2008 before dropping out) was uncaring for questioning his stance on allowing the children of undocumented workers to pay in-state tuition to attend colleges and universities in the Lone Star State.

Perry basically said those against such a proposition had no heart.

There were echoes of boos and other disapproving outbursts from the largely white, conservative audience to the governor's statement.

Romney responded by claiming that being against Perry's stance meant one had a "heart and a brain."

It was the second time in a week that Perry faced pressure for policies running afoul of the increasingly-rigid Republican mindset.

So, what about it?

Should the children of undocumented parents be able to go to school and pay in-state tuition like thousands of others do from year to year?

Or, does the availability of higher education extend only to people whose families are officially citizens?

To my way of thinking, Gov. Perry is positively correct in arguing for educational accessibility to young people who seek to improve themselves and contribute their talents, abilities and potential to the greater community, state and nation.

The mere fact that one's arrival in the United States does not involve parents with official papers should not deprive said individual from pursuing the vaunted American dream.

I can hear the wailing of anti-immigration activists - "These people are taking our kids' educations!"

Hmm. Sounds eerily similar to the same lament about "illegals" taking "our jobs."

From my perspective, the vast majority of undocumented workers take on things like picking produce that stock the shelves of our favorite grocery stores, laying brick and tile with great precision for wages many natives would scoff at and being willing to work as many hours as it takes to put food on the table for their families.

There's no great sense of entitlement.

Aren't self initiative and personal responsibility two of the Republican Party's so-called valued principles? What about family values? Fiscal responsibility?

The answer to these questions is, of course, yes.

The Grand Old Party once claimed to believe such things, but no longer.

These days, the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan has been overtaken by the likes of Sarah Palin and other entertainers masquerading as politicians.

Finding someone with credible experience in public life is as hard as getting the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to play other in-state schools on the football field or basketball court.

Let me clarify something, though. It is not as if I find President Obama all that inspiring.

He has, I believe, been far too reluctant to use his considerable influence to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority.

Until that happens, the situation will remain unsettled and highly divisive.

George W. Bush and some level-headed Republicans joined with Democrats to push for reform a few years back before finding themselves cornered and forced to shelve it.

 It was comforting to see a leading Republican refuse to back down in defense of human decency on the tuition matter.

Do I expect him to stay on track? Only time can provide the answer.

Education is the gateway to knowledge, possibilities and so much more.

Scapegoating people whose backgrounds aren't the same as affluent white suburbanites by stirring up passions among middle class and poor whites is disgraceful.

I'm not voting for Perry. Ron Paul is the only Republican I could support at this point.

As for Romney, well, backing him would mean shutting off my heart and brain.

Childress is a graduate student in political science of Jonesboro.

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