Put Immigration Up Front

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.

This will be my last offering on Medium.com

I will continue to post on WordPress.com at oscarvaldes.net

Here’s to Talking to a Trump Supporter

Eleven months away from the election, there’s still ample time to attempt to persuade the Trump supporter that reelecting the president is not in the best interest of the nation.

So why do I think we should not reelect Trump?

1- The president has not worked to build bridges between Americans.

Take immigration.

Over the years, the nation has benefitted enormously from the influx of immigrants. We have benefitted from the very skilled and the not skilled. Once here, the great majority of immigrants have striven to adapt and become contributing members of society. Whatever their color or shape, they yearn for a chance to make something of themselves that their land of origin has not allowed.

Do we need limits? Of course. Like we need borders.

Do we not want any immigration at all? Then let’s do a national referendum and put the matter to all the citizens of the country. We are a nation. We should decide as a nation. Trump is not doing that. He is not seeking consensus. The fact that he was elected is not equivalent to consensus on the matter. He lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

Instead of trying for consensus, the president has stirred hatred in Americans against certain groups of immigrants. That is no way of beginning to solve this problem. We have to think on it.

Remember, the unskilled immigrant may be our caretaker or landscaper today, but their children will become our soldiers, doctors and engineers tomorrow.

2- Trump’s economic policies have been counterproductive.

His 2017 tax cut overwhelmingly favored the rich. That has not resulted in a benefit for the rest of us.

The tariff war with China has weakened both our economy and the world’s economy.

The president’s impulsive and volatile style has eroded business confidence making it harder for enterprises to plan ahead.

As a result of our tariffs on the Chinese and their counter tariffs, the president has had to spend billions of dollars in subsidies for our agricultural producers. His tariffs have raised prices for all of us.

Has the stock market been higher under Trump than under Obama?

Yes. But economists agree that the stock market is not the economy. Partly due to Trump’s tax cuts for the rich, we have increased our national debt enormously and there’s a lot of money sloshing around that has inflated asset prices.

Trump inherited from Obama a sound economy that began to yield greater fruits during Trump’s tenure. The president has reaped the benefits.

3- Trump has a tendency to surround himself with people who say ‘yes’ to him. As a result he’s not getting the best advice he needs and the nation deserves. Take for instance Syria. Jim Mattis, a distinguished general who was secretary of defense, resigned last year because he objected to the president’s intention to leave Syria where the battle against ISIS was being fought. We were backing the Kurds who were doing most of the fighting.

In the absence of sound advice, the president chose to pull out our remaining soldiers on the border between Syria and Turkey to let Turkey run over and push back the Kurds. In effect we betrayed our allies. Now the area is under the control of Turkey, Russia, and the forces of the dictator al-Assad in Syria. The likelihood is strong that ISIS will again gather strength and once more become a threat to us.

4- Trump has frayed our bonds with our European allies. America has had strong ties with Europe. We went to their continent to help them fight two world wars. They are going through internal struggles in part connected to immigration, the influx of people from Africa and the Middle East. More than ever there is a need for strong guidance from America but there is none coming from the White House.

5- In his preoccupation with personal attacks and building a border wall, Trump has neglected the much needed investment in infrastructure. He has neglected investment in the education and training that his supporters need to become competitive with stronger labor forces the world over.

6- Because of his coarse behavior, Trump has devalued the highest office of our land. Maintaining the prestige of the office is invaluable in the conduct of national as well as foreign affairs.

There is no example of probity coming from the White House and we are the worse for it.

On international affairs, the president recently invited Mr Erdogan, Turkey’s president, to the White House. ‘I’m a fan,’ Trump boasted. This he said to the same man who run over and trampled the Kurdish population on the border with Syria, the same Kurds who had been our steadfast allies in our fight against ISIS.

7- Trump cannot stand up to Putin. In the presence of clear evidence, as carefully documented in the Mueller report, that Russia did interfere in the elections of 2016, our president has not mustered the nerve to say to Putin that he should never have done it, and will be severely penalized if he should attempt to do so again.

8- In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence Trump chooses to deny the ravaging effects of the burning of fossil fuels and then pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord, where most of the world had gone to seek consensus. In effect, by his actions, he’s said to the rest of the world, ‘the US is no leader to you. We will do what is best for us in the moment. So there. Deal with it’.

I do not recall ever having a president who so willingly chose to surrender the prestige that our nation has worked so hard to attain.

To defeat Trump in 2020, we have to convince his supporters that they are not seeing things for what they are. And that means talking to them.

The better argument we gather, the more likely that we will get a point or two across.

The strategy is not to expect conversion to our position but to sow doubt, any doubt, in the Trump supporter.

Some of Trump’s supporters may not be willing to listen but some will.

Some may have interesting points of view that we need to consider.

Addressing key points with a spirit of civility is likely to foster dialogue and, perchance, reflection.

I’m posting this on WordPress, at oscarvaldes.net. I would like to invite any of you who wishes to contribute to this list to send me your suggestions. Should I choose to add your suggestion I will do so in the next edition of the blog and credit your contribution at the bottom. Or you may wish to write your own blog and start your own talking plan.

Hoping for the best, please join in.

Thanks

Oscar Valdes

I Immigration /E Economy / S Support staff/ A Alliances/  I Infrastructure / D Decorum in office / P Putin / C Climate

I E S   A I D P C

A National Referendum on Immigration. America Needs One Now.

The NY Times, in an article dated 11/22/18  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/22/world/europe/hillary-clinton-migration-populism-europe.html

reports on a recent interview The Guardian did on Hillary Clinton. She spoke of Europe needing to get a handle on immigration because that is what lit the flame. Responses from the left were critical, while one leader from a far right Italian party stated, “Maybe Hillary has understood the lesson.”

The European Union has had a rough time dealing with the large number of refugees from Syria, the Middle East and Africa. Merkel in Germany was a strong advocate for welcoming them at first but eventually opposing parties forced her to compromise. In time, pacts were made with Turkey, Libya, Sudan and Niger to stem the flow and as a result the number has dropped by about 90% as the article states.

Hillary’s statements were addressed to Europeans but arrived at a time when the worst of the storm appears to have passed for them. For us, however, with dark clouds above us, her words are timely.

Trump would not have won the presidency if he had not seized on immigration – ‘lit the flame’- and run with it. He demonized and mocked immigrants at will, rousing enough voters to gain a narrow and bitterly contested victory. 

To many of us it was clear from the outset that Trump was scapegoating immigrants. We also thought that the tactic would be clear to most Americans. Sadly, it was not.

Whomever composed what came to be known as his base, was willing to ignore the obvious flaws candidate Trump showed. That the economy was recovering nicely under Democratic leadership and promised greater gains did not, in the end, make a difference. That Obama was enforcing immigration rules and deporting people living here illegally, did not either.  

The base was angry and wanted something right away.  

Globalization was browning America.

And there was Obama on our screens every day as a reminder of it.

The base, mostly white, said no.

That Trump is a clever manipulator there is no doubt. He knew that globalization had taken away jobs and that governments – both Republican and Democratic – had failed to institute the needed measures to remedy the damage and that therein lay the problem. But harping on that was not incendiary enough to fuel his campaign. Painting a black and white picture was. For a segment of Americans that had felt left behind and wanted quick answers, it was an approach made to order. “You’re good, they’re bad,” cried the great wizard from his mighty pulpit, “Yeah! We got this!” And emotions were roused. The hustler from New York was in a hurry to get elected. He was 70 years old and running out of time. He needed to act fast.

He’s still doing it.

So why is the democratic party still uncertain as to what to do about immigration?

Is it a problem or not?

How does it break down?

Who should come in and who shouldn’t?

Are immigrants needed?

What skills should they have?

The answers may be obvious to some but not to all. Why, then, not bring the issue directly to the people? Why not hold a National Referendum on Immigration where both sides present their views to the country and then we vote on it?

A National Referendum on Immigration would put the matter front and center and allow all of us to pause, assess the arguments in favor and against and make a choice.

Otherwise, the issue is likely to linger on unresolved and remain a force that the president uses to stir up sentiment and advance an agenda that is not in the interest of the nation.

It is clear that Trump does not speak for all Americans, nor does he seem intent on it. Criticisms of his conduct have been loud and harsh from the start, with his electoral win in 2016 tarnished given the evidence of Russian meddling and his having lost the popular vote.

Add to that the results of the recently concluded mid term elections. The House being a better representation of the country at large than the Senate, is there any doubt that the results were a referendum on Trump?

So now is the time to push forward boldly and bring clarity to the question of immigration.

If the majority of the nation were to vote that, yes, we need to restrict the flow, then that is what we should do. But we ought not to let Trump continue to use the issue to brazenly stir dangerous nationalistic sentiments that if not checked, will divide us further and lead us down the road to ruin.

Presented with the facts – through a rational discussion of the pros and cons of immigration – Americans will do what makes sense for the nation today and help clear the path for the country to come together.

Presented with the facts, we stand a chance to stop tearing each other apart and focus on pressing matters.

A National Referendum on Immigration will help us get there sooner.