Although the speech has not yet been given as I write this, George W. Bush has presaged another incredible failure to grasp problems and envision their solutions. Kneeling to whatever is left of his ‘core conservative lunatic base,’ he’s going to militarize the border with Mexico.
It must be genetic. His daddy used to refer to ‘the vision thing’ as if it were an alien state of mind. Yet daddy did a credible job, all things considered. Republican presidencies will for decades to come be judged against this one as ‘really not so bad at all, compared to George the Second.’
Movements of people in this world are evidence of dissatisfactions that run so deep, that leaving family, friends and home for certain danger and probable imprisonment is preferable to staying put. The poor moved north from the deep south, the Oakies fled the dust-bowl of the thirties. The civilized, business-wise answer to that condition isn’t barbed-wire and weaponry, but to change the condition.
It’s a vision thing, the Bush short suit.
The core difficulty along our long border with Mexico is jobs. Jobs on both sides. Mexicans come here legally or illegally to take jobs Americans will not do or choose not to do at the wages offered. The American unemployed and under-employed feel that if the borders were properly maintained, wages would rise among those jobs. The bitter truth is that without cheap immigrant labor, these industries are merely the next to take their jobs offshore. Offshore, these days, can mean deep into Mexico as well as China.
I have written before that allowing free and unlimited Mexican immigration would achieve two enormous benefits. First, it would quickly level the jobs-available to the jobs-wanted, slowing or halting further movement along the border. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it would allow Mexicans to return to their country without fear of being locked out, thus encouraging and supporting a return to Mexico between work opportunities. I continue to believe that’s a useful way to ‘change the condition’ between the United States and Mexico.
There is of course a third benefit and that is avoiding the shame and duplicity of walling-off our Mexican friends and neighbors.
But underlying the surface condition that brings demonstrations to the streets and excites George Bush’s least attractive tendencies, is the continuing decay of the job-market in America. As good jobs at good wages leave the country, the strength of our historic middle-class is weakened to the breaking-point.
For the first time in American history, we are seeing Americans scrabbling over immigrant jobs.
Closing the border is hardly a visionary answer to that problem, unless one considers the tunnel-vision of a desperate party, facing an impossible election. Sending troops, pandering to conservative paranoia is the reaction of an administration bankrupt of all creative power. The reactionary slashing-out by a paranoid president must be seen for what it is.
What are the marching orders, George? Is there to be live ammo in the guns? Are the orders given these young men (just back from or about to go to Iraq) to shoot? To chase? To stand around and ‘smoke’em if you got ‘em?’ Are you prepared, Mr. President, for the media reaction to an international disaster of someone shot, killed or seriously injured for your ‘press moment?’ Is this in our best interest as a nation as you address ‘my fellow-Americans’ to a citizenry who are statistically less and less, polling-wise fewer and fewer, your fellows?
The problem at the border mirrors the problems in Detroit and Miami, Newark and Buffalo, Cleveland and St. Louis, certainly El Paso. Three of the four poorest counties in this nation are in your home state of Texas, lost among the riches of Houston and Dallas. This country needs what it needed when FDR took office in 1932. It needs a New Deal, rather than a closing of its friendly borders, a jobs policy that will bring top jobs back to our dying cities.
The Republican party that I once knew was traditionally the party of business, the core of Rotary Club and the Lions, the go-getters who worked to grow mom-and-pop companies into local success stories. The Bush Republicans have worked the tax code to benefit Globalists and, thus far in the game, have worked to further destroy the center. Your legacy, Mr. President, is Americans scrabbling for jobs.
The Center is not a place to be polled and cajoled. The Center is America at its finest and strongest. The Center is where immigrants strive to be and it is fast disappearing under the feet of those who came before them. Look up from the tele-prompter, George, and make eye contact with your ‘fellow-Americans,’ who are leaving you in droves.
The problem is not at the border. Yours is a lying, devious, untrustworthy administration, ready and willing to use any subterfuge, make any deal, sell any historic freedom down the river, undermine any doctrine of fairness and civility for short-term advantage. It’s played out, over. This is a slow country to turn, which is one of its frustrations and also its greatest strength.
But it has turned.