"Politics is like term papers," says U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. "You usually get serious right before the term paper is due. That’s the downside of democracy: without friction, there is really no consensus."
In his Big Think interview, the senior Senator from South Carolina explained how he would rule the U.S. if he were king. First of all, he would take a hard look at entitlement spending. "The promises we’ve made to future generations of Americans are unsustainable," he says. "We’ve got 3 workers for every social security retiree today and in 20 years we’ll have 2. When I was born in ’55, we had 16 for every retiree. So we’re having less people and more retirees living longer. So I would adjust the age and I would recalculate benefits for people in my income level."
Graham is also in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, which means a lot more than building a fence between the U.S. and Mexico. "Quite frankly, we’re going to need immigrants," he says. "We’re a declining population, as I said before. Japan has been very xenophobic; they don’t have a workforce. We’re going to need immigrants as far as the eye can see, I just want them to become legal and do it in a win/win way."
A huge impediment to immigration reform, he says, is the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that anyone born in the U.S. becomes a citizen. It encourages immigrants to "break our law by coming across the border in our border states, to go to American hospitals to have a child, so that child will become a citizen, having an anchor to the country," he says. "There are other people, rich people mainly, from the Mideast and Asia, who come to America on tourist visas for the purpose of having a child in an American resort with a hospital to gain citizenship. I think those two ways of conferring citizenship really undermine the value of citizenship." This part of the Constitution must be changed to keep pace with the times in which we live, he believes.
Finally Graham addresses the United States's energy policy, which he says must embrace nuclear power. "I understand environmental concerns, but every technology has some downside," he says. "Nuclear power has proven over time to be a safe, reliable form of power." And for prove this point, we need only look to the French as a model. "80% of the power in France comes from the nuclear industry, surely we can be as bold as the French," he says.