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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

Better than no leadership at all

Q: When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a new immigration law making illegal residence a state offense in addition to a federal offense, she cited a lack of federal leadership on the issue. If you perceive upper-level leaders to be ineffective, when is it right to take bold action?

While many Americans see Arizona's new immigration law as narrow-minded, unconstitutional, and even bigoted, the fact that illegal immigration issues have returned to the forefront of the national debate may be all that Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona legislature need to justify their hard-line stance. Border security is a federal responsibility, and the federal government's non-performance to date has placed an unfair burden on Arizona that its elected leaders are at least trying to address.

Those that cite the political cost to the governor and the bill's other supporters forget that all politics are local. With rising crime rates, resources stretched to the limit, and the public's patience wearing thin, action had to be taken. In fact, with a recent Angus Reid public opinion poll showing that 7-in-10 Americans (not just Arizonans) support the measure, it's no great stretch to argue that the law's passage could very well prove politically advantageous when all is said and done.

If the law is upheld when it eventually reaches its final stop on an all-but-inevitable tour of state and federal appellate courts, then Arizona's leaders will have taken an effective step toward enhancing the safety and security of the citizens they've sworn to protect. If it is struck down, they will have achieved precisely the same goal for the simple reason that illegal immigration issues will be back on the federal regulatory and legislative agendas.

Arizona has grabbed a hot potato that the federal government has been far too reticent to touch in recent years. Where a federal leadership vacuum existed, a state has stepped in and filled it. And in this case, even misguided leadership is better than no leadership at all.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  April 29, 2010; 8:49 PM ET
Category:  Public policy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: You better be right | Next: Shortsighted leadership


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Mr. Goodwin's argument fails in one major regard. As leaders, we must neve sacrific humanity or morality to prove a point. I don't know for sure, but I can only hazard a guess that Mr. Goodwin has never been racially profiled. He has never had his car pulled over in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. He has never had to train his children to check their anger to survive what may be an unfair encounter with police. He has never walked down the street, with the presumption that he is anything but a full citizen, and never been treated like a second class citizen based on his looks.

Leadership honors civil right. Leadership finds workable solutions that does not dishonor the values we claim to hold dear. Leadership does not encourage a single person to be dishonored, so that a national discourse can take place. You will note that the people who are making this decision have little to no chance of being harassed. True leadership recognizes that injustice for some is an affront on justice for all.

Posted by: blackandgreen | May 2, 2010 7:36 PM
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The reason Arizona can't get help from Washington is that Senators, and Congressmen need large groups of voters to swing elections for them, all over America. Lets be honest, thats what it's all about, elections and votes. Washington politicians want to win elections, it does not usually matter if its a republican or a democrat. Both guilty parties, offer favors and promises to win these large voting groups over, in order to win elections. Arizona is trying to keep stability in their states cities and towns, using techniques employed by all other stable, civilized countries world wide, that actually value their citizens lives and properties. Politicians in Washington continue to demonizes anyone (Arizona) that endangers the promises and favors they made to get elected. While at the same time keeping those same promises and favors available for future elections. Our self serving politicians have no plans to do what is right for ALL AMERICANS let alone Arizona, in finding a functional solution to the REAL, NOT ILLUSIONAL multi State border failure that has been festering for years and is now approaching critical mass. Those same politicians, continue to avoid, rename, stall, CHANGE THE ISSUE, redefine, and have other politicians give out theoretical polemics, in their attempt to hang on to those voting groups at any price. AMERICAN lives included. Either politicians honestly don't know how to develop a safe, stable, functional American border like other countries have establish, or they honestly just want or need votes at any price. Arizona made an honest attempt and an honest effort, to protect its citizens lives and their properties. While elected leaders in Washington protect votes, to win elections, and continue to fail to protect American borders and lives.

Posted by: dsperry2 | May 2, 2010 3:05 AM
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For me the chat with Sherriff Joe "toughest sherriff in America" siad it all. He stated that he had arrested around 300 people on various raids at companies in Arizona, somwhere north of 200 of them were illegals but that no one in a leadership (or any) position at any of the companies was arrested for anything because it was hard to trace their actions to the crimes. That right there is all you need to know about whether or not this is racist.

Posted by: bob29 | April 30, 2010 4:05 PM
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What a load of malarky that's being left here.

Brewer did what she had to do since no federal Administration since Reagan has lived up to its fundemental responsibility to protect American sovereignty.

The law will not stand constitutional challenge as there is no provision for the States to step in when a federal responsibility is ignored. But Brewer has put the issue on the top of the stack for the nation.

This is not about rascism, bigotry, nativism any other "ism" that the Left comes up with. Its about equal protection under the law. Arizona has 500,000 illegals that are straining every public service for tax paying citizens. Phoenix is the "Kidnap Capital of the US". The border area is a "Bad Lands" of drug trafficking and grotesque human trafficking.

Yet, in taking steps to address the colassal problem, authorizing law enforcement to ask for proof of residency or citizenship, is now be equated to the Holocaust or Apartheid.

The debate is outrageous and baseless.

We are a nation of immigrants. We welcome immigrants and immigration. LEGAL immigration. This effort to make victims out of people who have broken the law to be here is an offense to reason.

This is not about profiling, or ethnic stereotypes. It is about whether the nation has the strength to enforce its own laws.

Without soveriegnty and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, we are little more than a geographical mob. In that vein, the proests nationwide tomorrow are little more that shows of intimidation to obstruct an easy rule of law issue into one of compassion and tolerance.

Brewer got a 16 point bounce for what she did. Nationwide, people approve. There is a center in America, and it is compassionate to anyone looking for a chance. But not without following the law.

Posted by: CoughlinC | April 30, 2010 2:43 PM
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Exceptional leadership traditionally has been seen as actions to lead that resists popular prejudice or indulging in self-service. Governor Brewer’s actions target the unpopular and enhance her political standing, the exactly opposing the dictates of the definition.

Posted by: SCKershaw | April 30, 2010 11:33 AM
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Mr. Goodwin - Why don't you include the phrase "under George Bush" in your lead-in bio? As for your commment "bold leadership" of Jan Brewer - Brewer does as she is told by the powers that control AZ politics, the LDS. She has been set up royally by them because she will never be reelected and the LDS will put their own "man" in that office.

Posted by: pkbishop1 | April 30, 2010 11:08 AM
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The outcome of this issue is really in the hands of the Fox Party. It pits the anything goes for businesses/kill the unions wing of the Fox Party against the white supremacist/right wing media wing of the Fox Party. Obama and the Dems ought to sit back and let them publicly fight it out.

Posted by: tsorren | April 30, 2010 11:03 AM
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p.s. jan brewer didn't display bold leadership. in our ridiculous state, if she hadn't signed the bill, the right wing lunatics would have gone after her. she was backed into a corner, and being a weak and ineffectual governor, did what she felt she had to do to remain governor. she's the opposite of bold leadership. she's a horror, really.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 30, 2010 10:49 AM
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my suspicion regarding some of the comments is that they would not be so vitriolic if the skin color of the "invaders" was white. all the hue and cry about the invasion is ignorance fear based. fear of becoming a minority and ignorance of this country's long history of welcoming those from other countries.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 30, 2010 10:47 AM
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Arizona's Iron Lady, who does Margaret Thatcher proud.

Posted by: hared | April 30, 2010 10:21 AM
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It is true our government needs to tackle the immigration issue. Just as I feared, what the Democrats have proposed to solve this - the cure is worse than the disease.

BIOMETRICS for everyone. If you want a job you have to trade in your old Social Security card for a new national ID with your photo and fingerprints.

Wow. Just think - the outcry is that Arizona is acting like Nazis. Just wait until Big Sis and Big Brother demand that you get a new Social Security care with BIOMETRICS.

Posted by: alance | April 30, 2010 9:44 AM
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We can report posters as offensive, but where do we report a blog entry as offensive? Shame on the Post for allowing bigots and their apologists to get precious space on the website and in print -I'm looking at you George Will!

Posted by: HokieAnnie | April 30, 2010 9:23 AM
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oday, Mexico's declaration of war on America moves with quickening speed. Their modern day General Calderon is not content with retaking Texas. He invades all American states by the largest Invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means, anywhere in the world!

This invasion is encouraged, abetted and organized by the Mexican state and supported by all citizens in Mexican society. Calderon provides his 'troops' with maps, water, provisions and aid to invade America's border.

Our President & U.S. Congress aids, abets and encourages this invasion by failing to defend our borders, by providing 100.s of billions in benefits to the invaders & by Promising them Amnesty & American Citizenship as a reward for their Invasion!

This refuse by our Politicians to abide by our Constitution against Invasion, enforce our Laws & Honor their Oath of Office by defending American Citizens & this Nation from Invasion is Treason. Pure & Simple!

Posted by: american1 | April 30, 2010 6:20 AM
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