Five Best Wednesday Columns
Doyle McManus on immigration reform's moment, Ezra Klein on how immigration policy affects the economy, Matt K. Lewis on Twitter's overcrowding, Chris Murphy on the new NRA, and Sanjay Kumar on India's cultural emergency.
Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times on immigration reform's moment Unexpectedly, the conversation in both camps of Washington has turned to immigration reform, with Republicans like John McCain and Marco Rubio discussing reform efforts concurrently with a major speech from President Obama on the issue. So what will Obama's role be in hammering out a compromise? Doyle McManus writes that the president should stay mostly on the sidelines during the legislative process. "Obama's role is to act as Mr. Outside—mobilizing public support, keeping pressure on Congress to move a bill forward and reassuring anxious Democrats that they're getting a good deal despite the concessions Republicans will demand," he writes. "He's already passed the first test: His relatively gentle speech in Las Vegas did no harm. He warned Congress about the need for action, noted the need for a clear path to citizenship and signed on to toughening enforcement, a key Republican demand. But he didn't try to dictate the details."
Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on how immigration policy affects the economy For the 11 million people currently living in the U.S. without documentation, immigration reform is undoubtedly an emotional issue. But Ezra Klein also wants to focus on the practical side of immigration policy: how it affects the economy. "The truth is, the most important piece of economic policy we pass—or don’t pass—in 2013 may be something we don’t think of as economic policy at all," he writes. "Immigrants begin businesses and file patents at a much higher rate than their native-born counterparts, and while there are disputes about the effect immigrants have on the wages of low-income Americans, there’s little dispute about their effect on wages overall: They lift them."
Matt K. Lewis in The Week on Twitter's overcrowding Criticizing Twitter can make for tricky rhetoric. Arguments that this never-ending stream of 140-character missives makes people too nice or that humor shouldn't be allowed on the platform have previously missed the point about Twitter. But Matt K. Lewis' takedown of Twitter has a bit more nuance, mostly because he used to love it. His main argument is that the service which used to be great for making unexpected connections has become overcrowded, overly cynical, and that journalists have become overly reliant on it. "What was once an inspiring place that gave you a competitive advantage became a prison. Twitter has become like high school, where the mean kids say something hurtful to boost their self esteem and to see if others will laugh and join in," he writes. "And that's a shame. The vision of Twitter—and remember, I was an evangelist for it—was the notion that we could share information and ideas in a civil manner. This is why we can't have nice things."
Chris Murphy in Politico on the new NRA For years, the National Rifle Association was an intimidating force of political power in Washington, D.C. Lawmakers from certain districts could lose their seats just by scoring low on the NRA's report card. As NRA Executive Vice President heads to Capitol Hill today, though, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy thinks that's changing. "The NRA, with its financial coffers lined by increasing gun sales, speaks less for gun owners and more for gun makers," he writes. "This disconnect from responsible gun owners may explain why the NRA’s long-heralded political power is significantly waning ... The NRA knows the gun control tide is ebbing away from their organization. Communities across America have watched us in Newtown, as we continue to convulse in grief over 26 innocents lost, and decided that they do not want to be next. And the first step toward giving them that assurance is to weaken the NRA’s hold on Congress by exposing them for the paper tiger they have become."
Sanjay Kumar in The Diplomat on India's cultural emergency India celebrated its 64th Republic Day earlier this week with a huge military parade and celebration of diversity in New Delhi. But all the fanfare masked deep anxieties about the country's cultural identity, as Sanjay Kumar sees it. "Since adopting a democratic and liberal constitution on January 26, 1950, the attack on India’s liberal and democratic traditions has never been as acute as it is now," Kumar writes, citing attacks from religious fundamentalists on the majority's liberalizing attitudes toward entertainment and lifestyle. "The worrying point about these episodes is not the activism of these fringe groups, but the government’s capitulation to them. Time and again, the government, whether central or local, has taken pains to curb liberal voices rather than put a check on their radical counterparts. Authorities have protected law breakers, and arrested those who uphold the constitution."