When state Sen. Glenn McConnell called for a national constitutional convention to deal with illegal immigration in October, many considered the Charleston Republican’s proposal a publicity stunt, politically impossible and laughable at best. Last week, when Rep. Leon Stavrinakis promoted legislation by which South Carolina could effectively sue the federal government for the estimated $186 million that illegal immigration costs this state annually, legal experts wondered if the Charleston Democrat’s proposal was more symbolic than serious, predicting that the Palmetto State would never see one dime in reimbursement.

But when it comes to this issue, both McConnell and Stavrinakis are two of the most sound and sensible men in the Statehouse.

Unless you’re President George Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney, marching off to war should be a last resort, as any statesman worth his salt knows. The chain of events leading up to both the American Revolution and the War for Southern Independence had to reach critical mass before our colonial and Confederate ancestors decided to take drastic measures. But with their backs against the wall, both eventually seceded to reclaim the right to dictate their own destinies.

When it comes to illegal immigration in the United States, we have now reached critical mass.

By every possible measure — economic, political, cultural — the burden Americans are being asked to bear due to our federal government’s refusal to protect our borders is immoral and unsustainable. But what is unconscionable to the average American seems to be nothing more than a petty nuisance to Washington leaders, who instead busy themselves with Congressional hearings over steroids or resolutions on century-old genocide in Turkey. In a recent Post & Courier report, Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies says that Washington’s lack of action on immigration “can be attributed to a fundamental divide between … public opinion and elite opinion.”

To say the least.

From their ivory towers in Washington, D.C., American elites can successfully segregate themselves from the effects of illegal immigration that the middle class must contend with everyday. The construction worker who sees his job opportunities dwindling and his wages remaining stagnant will not be able to comfort his family with promises of cheaper tomatoes or a brave, new world economy. The nurse who sees hospitals going bankrupt, particularly in states like California and Texas, will not find solace in cheap rhetoric about taking in the world’s “tired, poor and huddled masses.” And the small town teacher, who not only must contend with an influx of students who can’t speak the language — but whose community has been invaded and irreparably transformed — will not find many blessings in the never-ending gift of “diversity,” but a blanket curse on the only hometown he has ever known.

Far from being bomb-throwers and rabble-rousers, the proposals by McConnell and Stavrinakis are sensible correctives that aren’t the least bit radical when compared to a federal government that has rendered national borders obsolete through their inaction. That these state leaders are now recognizing their constituents’ despair and are attempting to take action where Washington has failed makes them practical, as well as patriotic, American statesmen.

Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the “Morning Buzz with Richard Todd” on 1250 AM WTMA.