Pathway to Codswallop

Mark Steyn

By Mark Steyn

Published August 3, 2015

  Pathway to Codswallop

In a thoughtful review of Ann Coulter's splendid new book, iconoclastic Democrat Mickey Kaus lists the open-borders advocates in American politics:

...the entire Democratic party, half the Republican party, half (secretly) of the politicians who claim to represent the other half of the Republican party, virtually the entire press (including Fox), virtually all of business, and virtually all big money political donors (including the Kochs!).

The bit I've bolded helps explain the Trump bump in the GOP polls. A significant part of the Republican base thinks half their candidates are just schmoozing them to get through primary season, genuflecting toward "concerns" about border "enforcement" and huffing and puffing a bit about fences and E-verify.

For example, Marco Rubio sponsored an amnestypalooza in the US Senate, but now says he wouldn't vote for his own bill.

Rick Perry gave the in-state tuition rate to illegals and said if you disagree with him "I don't think you have a heart" (ie, you're a racist), but he's now withdrawn the charge and says that the difference between him and Trump is that the latter talks the talk and he walks the walk - because when the Obama Administration dissolved the southern border the only guy standing between you and Trump's Mexican rape horde on their flat-bottomed skiffs is the tough-as-nails governor on the north bank of the Rio Grande with his posse of Texas Rangers.

Chris Christie also gave the in-state tuition rate to illegals and favored "a pathway to citizenship" for the undocumented, but in May he closed the pathway with no further thought than if it were a New Jersey bridge. Then Trump got in the race and, with the billionaire piling up the Hispanic votes by damning them as rapists and murderers, Christie reckoned in a crowded market it might be time to triangulate a little and figured it was safe to reopen the pathway.

And then there's Jeb Bush, who's running as the GOP's Yasser Arafat: that's to say, as with Yasser on "the peace process", on immigration it depends on whether Jeb's speaking English or his native tongue. ,Thus, in English, he's talked about rescinding Obama's amnesty order; but, in Spanish to Telemundo (a US Spanish-language network - lots more of those in America's future), he pledged to enact "comprehensive immigration reform".

Every sentient Republican voter knows that "comprehensive immigration reform" is Beltway-speak for legalizing 30 million law-breakers while incentivizing 30 million more.

On their public statements, it is difficult to know what these guys really believe on immigration from one week to the next. Which in itself is rather strange: after all, among what Hillary Clinton calls "everyday Americans", most people who want an end to illegal immigration have held that view consistently for some time; they were not, a year ago, gung ho for amnesty, in-state tuition discounts, no-questions-asked drivers' licenses, pathways to citizenship, and another 30 million unskilled Latin-American peasants to start the comprehensive tango anew. But half their presidential candidates were. Odd. Yet, if you had to plump for one side or the other, if you had to toss a coin, wouldn't the safer bet be that, with all the above, it's their amnesty phase (which oddly enough tends to occur in the presidential off-season) that represents their genuine position?

Trump is full of it, too. But at least he's full of it in English rather than bullsh*t. Which is what you're speaking when you talk about "pathways to citizenship" and "comprehensive immigration reform". They're Democrat evasions, and the Republican base is entitled at the very minimum to demand Republican candidates who come up with some weaselly duplicitous evasions of their own. A significant section of the GOP base is sick of dialing Republican headquarters and hearing "Press 1 for Spanish, press 2 for consultant-approved claptrap, press 3 for artful straddle, press 4 for all disavowals of last year's positions, press 5 for endless looped replays of John McCain's amusing primary-season-only super-butch 'Build the danged fence!' commercial, press 6 for live audio feed of John McCain teaching Lindsey Graham how to say 'Danged!', press 7 if you know the Spanish for 'Danged!', press 8 to hear Jeb Bush say 'No amnesty, not on my watch, no sirree!', press 9 to hear Jeb Bush say 'Viva la danged amnistía!' If you wish someone to speak to you in non-forked-tongue English, please stay on the line and wait for an operator."

After years in touch-tone hell for GOP voters, the operator has now shown up. Donald Trump is a slicker operator than some of us would like, but his observations on immigration were a rare intrusion of reality into an other-worldly public discourse.

While backing Trump faute de mieux, as we foreigners say, Ann Coulter damns him as a total wuss for denouncing merely "illegal immigration" as opposed to "immigration". He's not alone in this. Ted Cruz, for example, who's to the right of most of those mentioned above and a less slippery customer on the issue, is in favor of increasing legal immigration. The armies of the undocumented are unique to America: For a politician in most parts of the beleaguered west, being tough on immigration means being tough on legal immigration. With Republicans, you get the sense that the consultant-industrial complex has told them that drooling over the wonderful diversity of legal immigration is necessary to preserve mainstream viability. Mickey Kaus nervously considers the point:

When I first heard the restrictionists at the Center for Immigration Studies lump illegal and legal immigration together, I thought they were weird. After all, border-controllers spend a lot of time fending off the charge that they're "anti-immigrant..."

Yet if you worry about the effects of uncontrolled immigration on wages and culture, you have to admit that legal immigration, if large enough, could have exactly the same wage-depressing and culture-dissolving effect.

That's true. If your objection to mass unskilled immigration is that it leads to economic stagnation, diminished social mobility and cultural transformation, who cares about the paperwork? For First World countries in the 21st century, there is no compelling argument for mass immigration (my preferred term) and several against it. So Ted Cruz's careful distinction looks like just another shifty sidestep, a couple of paving stones further on down the pathway to the electorally viable immigration sweet spot.

I am myself a legal immigrant and I fretted, while completing the bazillion pages of "comprehensive" immigration forms, about whether it was strictly necessary to declare that unpaid parking ticket from Saskatoon in 1987 or the unsolved string of prostitute murders at the Port of Amsterdam in the late Seventies. And at one point, while I was agonizing, my lawyer said to me that the examiner who would decide my case spent six minutes on each application, at the end of which he said yea or nay. So he wouldn't have time to read all the forms, never mind check anything in them.

What with all the amnesty processing, I would imagine that it's rather less than six minutes per application today. Four minutes, would you say? Maybe three? If we were to take the legal immigration enthusiasts at their word - that a crackdown on illegals will be simultaneous with an expansion of lawful admissions - what do you think it'll be down to? A minute-and-a-half? Forty-five seconds per application? And instead of all those brainy Asians the likes of David Brooks say America needs, the US will just get, "legally", all the fellows it currently gets illegally.

Yet, if even Ted Cruz and Donald Trump aren't willing to go there, who will? Step forward, my Vermont neighbor from across the Connecticut. The other day Bernie Sanders spoke to the pajama boys at Vox:

Ezra Klein: You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing ...

Bernie Sanders: Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein: Really?

Bernie Sanders: Of course. That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. ...

Ezra Klein: But it would make ...

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me ...

Ezra Klein: It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn't it?

Bernie Sanders: It would make everybody in America poorer -you're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.

Ezra Klein: Then what are the responsibilities that we have? Someone who is poor by US standards is quite well off by, say, Malaysian standards, so if the calculation goes so easily to the benefit of the person in the US, how do we think about that responsibility?

We have a nation-state structure. I agree on that. But philosophically, the question is how do you weight it? How do you think about what the foreign aid budget should be? How do you think about poverty abroad?

Bernie Sanders: I do weigh it... But I think what we need to be doing as a global economy is making sure that people in poor countries have decent-paying jobs, have education, have health care, have nutrition for their people. That is a moral responsibility, but you don't do that, as some would suggest, by lowering the standard of American workers, which has already gone down very significantly.

What is this? Some screwy Sanders internal polling that shows he can't afford to let Trump get to his right on immigration? Bruce McQuain characterizes it this way:

Sanders echoes exactly what the right has been saying while at the same time trying to put the blame on ... the right.

But the problem is "the right" doesn't say it - not if by "the right" you mean Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry or even Ted Cruz. And the paragraph I highlighted seems a better pitch than all that danged fence braggadocio. When even Bernie Sanders can talk like this, how come half the Republican field won't even go there?

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Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist. His latest book is "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned". (Buy it at a 32% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 50% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)