Three political stories

Some political items worth discussion:

It’s about time conservative politicians realized they (at least the ones with money) don’t need the Mainstream Media, which is so biased against them that it is not worth the free publicity it provides.

In 1980 and 1994 Republicans won by campaigning against the growth of government, but they weren’t very effective at stopping it. In my view, this is because the growth in productivity and wealth has historically outpaced the growth in government in dollar (not percentage) terms, so that people were better off despite government taking a larger share of the larger pie. Now that the pie is not growing any more it is crushingly obvious that big government makes people worse off than they otherwise would have been, so I think the 2010 shrink-the-government movement will have more of a chance of actually doing this than before in America; it is already happening in Europe.

I plan to say more about American Exceptionalism in later posts. The question is not so much whether a “propositional nation” is the best way to organize a state, but how much the political, economic, and social advantages America has enjoyed can be credited to its unique status as a nation dedicated to abstract ideals that are potentially universal in their application. I want to be careful not to confuse this with the related issue of whether any group of people is capable of doing well under such a structure, and focus on actual Americans. The strongest form of universalism (any country can be like America if they adopt its principles) is false and has been the cause of worthless nation-building exercises. A weaker form of universalism (anyone can be an American if they come here) is arguably true if it refers only to people who come here as individuals and not in groups, who have no other culture to assimilate to; but I can make a strong case that Americanism is much more dependent than is commonly admitted on cultural and social assumptions characteristic of a relatively small part of the world, and that people from some nations can much more naturally “Americanize” than people from others. Rejecting universalism entirely, one can say that Americanism only works for people of a certain ethnic makeup and is bound to fail if the demographics of the country are messed with too much.

The second part of that last sentence is true, and follows from the first part of that sentence, but that does not mean the first part of that sentence is true. Those who would say, for example, that only white people of European extraction should be Americans need to come up with something to say to Marco Rubio and Allen West, the newly elected Florida Senator and Congressman who are the subjects of the linked articles above.

It may be true that America would in many ways better if it were demographically homogenous. I don’t want to argue that point. I want to instead discuss whether and how America can make room for people like Marco Rubio without allowing the kind of demographic and cultural erosion that is currently associated with massive legal and illegal immigration, and whether and how black people in America can, in general, start respecting and listening to leaders like Allen West rather than the current idiots they support. Maybe the answer is that neither of these is really achievable; in that case the true “Exceptionalism” is that of Rubio and West, and I would at least like an explanation of why they are doomed to remain exceptions.


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2 Responses to Three political stories

  1. Anonymous Crab says:

    Why do you view the current wave of immigration, consisting largely of supposedly undesirable people from Central & South America, as being different from previous waves of immigration, consisting of (then) supposedly undesirable people from places like Italy and Ireland? Was the long-term impact of the Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants to places like New York City actually negative? Did it destroy America? Did those immigrants not also live in their own neighborhoods and continue to speak their own languages? It’s not hard to find turn-of-the-century pictures of Lower East Side storefronts with all signage in Hebrew, for instance.

    What’s different now, and why does it seem to be so fear-based?

  2. Crab,

    Very good question. The answer is a statistical one which has required decades to become clear — Mexican and Central American immigrants are simply not assimilating and succeeding in American society in the way that European immigrants did — successive generations do worse than their parents did economically and fail educationally and thus burden American society, while the children and grandchildren of the European immigrants in the last century did better educationally and economically than their parents and caught up to the rest of America within 2 generations.

    This data was not available in 1965 when most immigration restrictions were removed and enforcement was weakened, but after 45 years it is quite clear.

    The reason for the difference in assimilation is less clear — it could be that there are no longer cultural pressures to assimilate, or it could be that the Mexicans and Central Americans who come here are simply less capable than the Europeans who came here, or it could be that the country simply doesn’t have room to spare now like it did then. But in any case there are negative consequences to the immigration of the last few decades that were much less serious in previous waves of immigration.

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