There are times when elected officials need to lead, even when the political road ahead is uncertain. Such a moment has come for New York state senators in the debate over issuing state driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Controversial as this idea is, divided as the public seems to be, passing this legislation is the right thing to do.
New York and other states are in a tough spot. There are millions of immigrants illegally in this country, living in the shadows yet very much a part of our society. Many do farm work and other low-paying, labor-intensive jobs that there are not enough citizens and legal immigrants to fill. They and their families need transportation to school, grocery stores, doctors. Like it or not, many of them drive, unlicensed. If they have an accident, some flee the scene for fear of arrest and deportation. Those who stay are likely to be uninsured anyway.
Holding political office is about more than power; it's what those in office do with power that truly matters. What good is power if the people who have it are too timid to use it for good, and to follow shifting tides of public opinion rather than lead?