Immigration, Migration, and the Death of Democracy

Can there be a more perfect illustration of this country’s corrupt “immigration” debate than a political activist disguised as a “reporter,” jumping up in the midst of a politician’s speech to heckle him and deliver a manifesto?  

Few politicians have been handed a gift like the one Jorge Ramos of Univision gave Donald Trump. In one lightning-flash moment, Ramos became the avatar of everything law-abiding Americans despise about the political and media class, and the issue where they most clearly converge… blurring partisan lines to form a chorus that insists citizenship law is only kinda-sorta law.  

Kinda-sorta laws are the hallmark of “soft” tyranny. Everyone can grasp the menace of an oppressive dictatorship imposing its will upon the people, giving them no say in the crafting or administration of draconian laws, and enforcing harsh punishment against both disobedience and dissent. But when a nominally representative, democratically-elected government decides not to enforce some laws, while trapping other citizens in an elaborate maze of regulations that control every aspect of their lives, the result is tyrannical as well.

Furthermore, our ruling class has sternly informed us that We the People have no say in the crafting or administration of immigration law, have they not? Every effective measure is instantly denounced as a non-starter.  Even the Constitution has been twisted to erase the very concept of American citizenship in the “anchor baby” debate – as if the founders of a new nation, born in a bitter struggle against an imperial power with no small number of sympathizers living in the Colonies, would have endorsed the idea of instantly conferring citizenship on the children of foreigners, and then creating a chain-migration system to pull the rest of the family in.

Part of the little speech Ramos hijacked the Trump event to deliver was the usual dreary insistence that deporting millions of people is unthinkable, and the only alternative is open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens, so it’s game, set, match. Immigration is the only law we’re supposed to abandon because enforcement can’t be 100 percent effective overnight. That’s true of every other law as well, but I notice left-wing open-borders enthusiasts are in no hurry to drop the tortured U.S. tax code because it’s riddled with fraud, abuse, and provisions even the IRS isn’t certain how to enforce.

As with any other tyrannical enterprise, the open-borders crowd thinks dissent is unacceptable and should be punished, before it can blossom into effective political resistance. In literally the span of days, a movement to redefine the term “anchor baby” as a racist slur was launched. We’ve suffered through years of activists trying to ban the term “illegal alien” and its permutations, saddling us with an increasingly strained series of euphemisms, from “undocumented immigrant” to “Americans-in-waiting.” We are made to believe there is no difference between legal and illegal immigrants – to speak of one is to speak of both.

There is even a movement afoot to ban the word “migrant” and transform it into a racial slur, even as vast migratory waves pour from the ruins of the post-Obama Middle East and flood through Europe. “Migrant” is a logical term with a specific meaning, which we cannot make do without. The essential differences between immigration and migration are scale, and the consent of the host country. Immigration occurs with not only the permission, but active, affirmative will of the host: immigrants are invited, carefully vetted, and granted an honored place in society. Migrants swarm across borders without the consent of the country they invade. (The difference between migration and invasion mostly boils down to organization and intent.)

Political discomfort with using these terms does not change their meaning. If the consent of the host country and its citizens is deemed irrelevant, including by their own ruling class, then the process under discussion is not “immigration.” Consent is a meaningless concept unless it can be modulated or withdrawn.  Consenting to, say, a million immigrants a year is not equivalent to dissolving the border or abandoning citizenship laws. Prospective immigrant number 1,000,001 may be refused entry, and the host country does not become a hotbed of xenophobia for doing so, even if he or she was a lovely person who would have made a fine citizen. Adamantly refusing to grant the possibility that consent could be denied for acceptable reasons effectively renders consent meaningless, a nominal option we are not actually allowed to choose… and we’re right back at tyranny again.

Migration is the antithesis of immigration, not an extreme version of it. Migration is also antithetical to democracy. Just ask any citizen who has been sternly informed, by the ruling class of his nation, that he’s not allowed to vote on whether a vast wave of migrants should be allowed to settle in his country. In fact, he’s not even allowed to object. Citizens on the receiving end of a migratory wave understandably worry about how the settlers will change their politics once they, or their children, become citizens, but the truth is that migration crushes democracy long before that happens, because the political elite usually act quickly to suspend democracy and the rule of law (sometimes to repel the migrants, although that’s rare in the Western world these days.) One way or the other, existing citizens are told migration is an issue where neither majority will, nor the dignity of dissenting political minorities, counts for much.

The purpose of such speech control is thought control – these euphemisms are weapons designed to murder logic and obscure the issues. Those who wield such weapons intend for them to have sharp edges. They strongly desire the power to punish anyone who fails to play along, by accusing them of racism and xenophobia. Ramos thought his sense of righteous indignation gave him the authority to commandeer an event held by the current front-runner in a presidential primary, and force said candidate to stand there quietly while the “journalist” delivered a tirade.  

Lately there has been a great deal of muttering about how the pushback against amnesty represents the rise of vile “white identity politics,” which is vile because white men are supposed to be the only group strictly forbidden from engaging in identity politics… while it’s pretty much mandatory for everyone else. If you aren’t a white male, you get dragged into rigid identity groups and told what your politics are by loud-mouthed self-appointed spokespeople, every day of the week.  

It’s a racket that works mainly because dissenters are intimidated into silence, usually by finding a high-profile identity politics “traitor” and making an example of him or her. Legal Hispanic immigrants who object to being drafted as foot soldiers to fight for the “rights” of illegal immigrants will get a taste of it. Is there any more noxious example of “identity politics” than the assertion that everyone of Hispanic extraction – hailing from many different countries with distinct cultures, and mostly immigrating to the United States legally – are a monolithic bloc in favor of erasing the southern border, their stance on the matter such a foregone conclusion that asking them for individual opinions is a waste of the media’s time?

As with so many other “national discussions” these days, the goal is not to win an argument or persuade anyone, but to end the “discussion” by forcing one side to shut up. That’s one reason immigration has become such a hot-button issue, and why Donald Trump’s campaign caught fire. It’s also a major reason why so many people with conservative positions on various issues are, at least for the time being, willing to support Trump when he doesn’t share them.  It’s not just pushback against the Republican Establishment, although that’s surely a big part of it. It’s pushback against the entire rotten, rigged system, in which Those Who Work Hard and Play By the Rules are endlessly preyed upon, manipulated, bullied… and browbeaten into silence when they object.  

Everything is “inevitable” now. Every lousy government program is immortal, no matter how badly it fails. Every bad deal for the working man and woman is “the settled law of the land,” and they’re treated as borderline terrorists for trying to get out. Dissent is ruled out of bounds on a growing number of issues. There is no way to escape from any part of the Ruling Class agenda, withdraw consent, or refuse to participate.  

First we were told to surrender our individual freedom and responsibility, and settle every matter of substance not through personal conscience, persuasion, and competition, but rather by voting for politicians and imposing their “solutions” by force upon the entire populace. Now we’re told even voting doesn’t count for much any more. When the people rise up and hand a historic electoral victory to the opposition party, explicitly throwing powerful members of the President’s party out of office as a rebuke to his policies, they get nothing for their efforts but capitulation, excuses, stage-managed failure… followed by a wave of new fundraising emails.  

Even when elected politicians try to make a change, they’re told it’s impossible: the calcified bureaucracy is more powerful than our elected representatives, Congress gave its power away and can never recover it, and everything the hard-working, independent, liberty-minded American citizen wants is somehow forbidden by a “living Constitution” that means the opposite of what it actually says, and can only be formally amended by those who wish to use it as a weapon against the people, instead of a restraint on government power.

The immigration debate is a proxy for many others, as people buried beneath an avalanche of rules and taxes find themselves in no mood to hear another whine from the Ruling Class about how certain laws are just too difficult to enforce against certain organized constituencies. It’s no coincidence that the people expected to shoulder the burden of this rotten system are strictly forbidden from organizing themselves, and can expect to be shredded by the media, bureaucracy, Democrats, and Republican establishment if they try.  

It’s funny to watch the various Establishments scorn the people for expressing “incoherent” rage. Every time they try to make it coherent, they’re savaged as a neo-fascist conspiracy, and suddenly the IRS is slow-walking their applications for tax exempt status, with high officials telling each other they have a duty to prevent such people from participating in representative democracy with the same gusto as Big Government-friendly left-wing organizations.  

Having tried playing by the rules, and discovering the rules are irreparably rigged against them, these voters are looking for a game-changer. Every candidate running against Trump ought to be thinking about how they can present themselves as such a game-changer, and those who cannot plausibly fill that role ought to think about dropping out now, instead of soaking up a pile of big GOP donor money to no useful purpose.

Personally, I despise identity politics of every stripe, and see them as a mortal threat to the great republic of independent, responsible Americans I was born into, as the grandson of immigrants. I don’t want more identity groups to arm up and play the game. I want to tear down the system that makes such tactics necessary for social and political survival. Simply insisting on the even and fair application of the rule of law, in such basic matters as both citizenship for new Americans and the conduct of our entrenched political class, would go a long way toward bringing that system down: make the powerful live under the laws they impose, and deprive them of their ability to organize citizens into angry groups and pit us against each other, for their political and financial profit.  

It should tell you a lot about how corrupt our elites have become that the smallest talk of fair play is unbearable for them. How dare you insist that they, and their favored constituents, should play by the rules?


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