Texas Farm Bureau: Immigration Reform

By Gene Hall

Imagine a championship boxing match. Two heavyweights come to the ring. They talk, smile, touch gloves and retreat to their respective corners. The bell rings. However, neither boxer approaches his opponent to begin the contest. Instead, they throw things at one another: the stool, the water bucket and a blizzard of insults, negative comments and outrageous claims about their own skills, most of which they decline to use in a productive way.

Now, think of that boxing ring as our nation’s capital. The fighters are our two historically great political parties. They are beating one another up at a distance. They refuse to engage on the great problems that face us—immigration reform, estate taxes, entitlement reform and the ballooning deficit.

Back on the farm, my grandfather taught me to do many things. Paw, as I called him, was patient. He taught me that results count. He offered advice, but let me know there was always more than one right way to do most jobs.

In Washington now, the political parties seem to see it only one way. They have their cheerleaders, the bases of both sides—left and right, that provide enough cover to dig in their heels. In our national politics, we’ve lost the ability to listen. The far left and the far right have a lot of anger. Let’s not forget the huge group of Americans in the middle who are pretty angry, too. They want to see progress on the pressing issues of the day—things like the economy, jobs, the deficit, national security and the safety of our people.

I think the American people are very tired of this. Right now, the Republicans are poised to do very well in the elections. But the public only approves of them slightly more than the Democrats. Eighteen months ago it was the other way around. Winning the election is the goal. It shouldn’t be. The chance to lead should be the goal. Leading is not attacking. Leading is principle and compromise. Leading is listening and sacrifice.

You’ve got to win an election to get anything done. I concede that. But if the folks send you to D.C., you also have an obligation to try and get things done. Compromise is a lost art. Some might think that locking the government down is the right thing to do. Lord knows, we’ve allowed some unfortunate legislation to pass. 

But there are some mighty big problems out there that are not going to go away. They will be difficult to solve, but there is no chance unless some elephants and donkeys get in the same room to talk about them. 

I think we have a horrible new health care system. You may disagree. But I also believe we desperately need to reform health care. I believe it could have been better if Republicans had engaged with the president. I believe that winning the election did not mean the Democrats could ignore the ideas of the minority.

Both need to enter the room with an idea of what they can give up and the principles they can’t surrender. At the end of the day, they have to be willing to get into the ring, go out and engage. They have to use their skills, their words, their beliefs and, more than anything, their ability to understand other points of view. Or, we can continue to throw the stools and insults from the corner.

I don’t think that’s what Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Franklin intended when they put this system together and bound it together with our great constitution. I can’t help but think they’d be disappointed at what it’s become.

Visit the Texas Farm Bureau website at www.txfb.org.
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Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
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