There is an illusion behind the House Republican resistance to compromise. The GOP hard-liners foster a belief that Americans want a quasi-religious war on a host of issues, in which one side will gain total victory.

In the wake of Independence Day, it is useful to reflect on what Americans have that seems to elude so many other countries. In a word, it is stability. We know that when we leave our homes in the morning there will not be a coup in our city hall, statehouse or national capital. We assume that we’ll have electricity and telecommunications. We also assume that the nation will be solvent.

After months of discussion and compromise, a group of senators produced an immigration bill. That legislation cleared the Senate. This hard-earned progress will likely be stopped at the door of the House chamber. Why? A determined group of Republicans don’t want an immigration bill.

One could say there is something special about the Immigration Bill, and in a way there is. But the House is also unable to agree on a Farm Bill. And like Southerners who want to re-fight the Civil War, the House GOP is in denial about the fact of the Affordable Health Care Act.

A similar stand-off occurred during the years leading up the Civil War. It wasn’t only slavery that hamstrung the pre-war Congress, it was other major issues such as the Morrill Act, which created the land grant colleges. Once the Southern states left the Union, a dam broke and a flood of progressive legislation became law, including the Morrill Act.

It is essential that America have revised immigration law. Our economy depends on it. In fact, a broad coalition of business, religious and philanthropic interests are massively lobbying the recalcitrant House Republicans.

As with the pre-Civil War stand-off, today’s logjam in the House is all about whether America will be allowed to join the future. More than anything else, House Republicans want to turn back the clock. It is too late for that.

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