The nation will not get out of this impasse we’re living in without first putting immigration up front for discussion.
Trump identified it as a source of deep resentment in dissatisfied sections of the electorate and rode it to victory. That resentment is still there.
Democratic candidates do harm to themselves and the nation by not giving immigration a central position on their agendas.
We understand that addressing inequality will need a long conversation with the country and gradual fixes introduced as we are justifiably distrustful of quick ones.
But to give immigration less importance is to allow Trump to whip his fans into a frenzy one more time. We cannot afford it.
So long as immigration is left on the sidelines we will not defeat Trump.
Putting immigration up front will ask everyone to look at themselves and examine where they stand.
Immigration has been a powerful force in our nation. It has helped build us. We would not be who we are today without immigrants.
But we need borders too. We need limits. We need to have a say on who gets in and who doesn’t. Americans need to feel that their input has been acknowledged.
To do that we need a national referendum on immigration. A referendum on just that one issue.
Let us set aside a period of time devoted to discussing its pros and cons. Who do we let in, from what countries, with which skills, from what race?
Put every related issue up for discussion, not being afraid to look at ourselves as we know stand.
After such period then the matter would go to the entire country for a vote and then to congress who, having heard the will of the people, will put their wishes into law.
A time limit should be stipulated for the law, so that it can be revised as its effects play out.
But the nation would have had a chance to agree to something as a unit. We all would then need to abide by the results, whether we like them or not.
Why hasn’t this been discussed?
Because of what’s happened in England with Brexit. Because of it, we’re fearful that we will be painfully divided.
But we are already painfully divided. Furthermore, we are not the English.
The world owes much to that accomplished and scrappy people. In economics, in politics, in science. They were once the dominant nation in the world and yet they failed to adapt to changing circumstances and thus began their slow descent. They’re still in the thick of their downward spiral. Soon the Scots will want out of Great Britain, then the Irish, maybe even the Welsh.
The English will surely make a comeback but they have paid dearly for their mistakes. During their long downslide, they had chances to change strategy to better deal with their vast possessions but they did not. Their failures represented a failure of imagination. Let us learn from them and not make the same mistakes.
A national referendum on immigration will allow us an opportunity to examine in detail all the pros and cons of the matter and make a choice.
We are no stranger to failures of imagination in our history. The decimation of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow, Vietnam, and in recent history the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stand as examples.
It will take much courage but confronting immigration will give us a chance to square with our truth, and in so doing let our imagination conceive of solutions that free up our energies to create and move forward, rather than to blame and hate.
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