Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reply to Tom Palmer on Bush, Reagan, and Immigration

Tom Palmer, who I have known for not quite thirty years, posted on his Facebook page this video of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan in their 1980 debate addressing the issue of illegal Mexican immigration. Tom added this caption: "America could use more common sense like this today."
     What was common sense in 1980 is vanished today. In 1980 Americans were still largely religious, patriotic, committed to the defense and promotion of freedom both at home and abroad. A strong proud society that knew what it stood for, and, despite its serious challenges, could take "the huddled masses yearning to breathe free" and educate them and their children to citizenship.
     Today faith in God and love of country are banished from polite company. America is just another post-imperial, post-Christian, post-industrial society, defeated in three of its last three wars. California's Central Valley is a man-made dust bowl, the skilled working class is in China, middle management in Bangalore, and the cohorts that were supposed to replace them have, at best, stocking jobs at an Amazon warehouse and at worst, reality TV, Prozac, and early disability. 
     The US has no advantage any more in making unskilled peasants from traditional societies into modern productive citizens. The US, today, is an immigration magnet only for those disrupters who aim to profit from or violently exploit the absence of social solidarity made possible by a society that has abandoned its political and religious common ground. Some of those disrupters are app gurus, and some of them are jihadis, and the US government is so incompetent it can't tell the difference.
     Thirty years ago when I entered college, I too had the views on immigration displayed here by 1980's future Presidents. But just as we can't (thanks to the Supreme Court and ruling elites) have 1980's modus vivendi on gay rights, but all must celebrate LBGQT identities or face ostracism, unemployment, and penal sanctions, we can't have 1980's immigration policy either.
     I am not sure to what extent the Reagan/Bush years of nonenforcement and amnesty are responsible for America's predicament. But America is a country of immigrants, shaped by immigration, and in the last generation a society that was in 1980, the freest, most pious, and most prosperous the world has ever seen, has been, to quote President Obama, "fundamentally transformed." Sorry, Tom, the DeLorean is on blocks in the garage, and on Amazon, flux capacitors are "out of stock."

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