Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the Mexican border. But what I’m really worried about is the fact that people are listening to him. No, they’re not just listening, they’re clamoring for him. He’s leading in the Republican polls. He’s dominating the media spotlight. We’re beyond the point where you could argue that his movement is fueled by spectacle. It’s obvious that a deep-seated xenophobia on the part of the electorate serves as the raw fuel for Trump’s ascent.
But where does it come from? How do you define such vague resentment toward Central and South Americans? While Trump’s supporters stand out as the most visible representatives of the anti-immigration base, the constant immigration debate seems to be indicative of a lingering yet growing sense of entitlement and exceptionalism, and not just amongst Republicans.
Build a fence, wait your turn, get out and stay out. Even among moderates, you never hear any sort of reasonable solution. The best and most progressive rhetoric that we can expect from our politicians is some sort of admission that the system is broken and needs fixing. But what kind of fixing are we talking about? Nobody knows. There’s perennial lip service to workers visas, or pledges to keep families together. But even when there’s a will for action, such as President Obama’s use of executive authority, there’s always some sort of court challenge or political gridlock that halts anything resembling progress.
It’s impossible to mount a progressive opposition because we’re playing by the rules as outlined by the extreme right. The extreme right has a voice. With Donald Trump, they’re getting bolder and louder. Why is it that all political discourse is seemingly dominated by the most hardline, conservative ideals? And what about some really progressive ideas? Why is the word “amnesty” only spoken of in the most negative context? Why aren’t there any serious arguments for actual amnesty? We hear about the borders being closed, about anchor babies and illegal aliens. Is there no room in mainstream debate for open borders?
Instead of playing defense, those against this whole anti-immigration sentiment need to be not just criticizing the tone or the insensitivity of their opponents, they need to be mounting a counterattack. Why shouldn’t the borders be open? How is it fair that some human beings get to live here while other human beings don’t?
What exactly are the arguments against amnesty? You’ll usually hear some sort of nebulous baloney about the sanctity of law, that if you allowed everyone citizenship, it would signal some broader collapse of society. But on the other hand, the case against illegal immigrants doesn’t hold up too much water either. There are the false claims that they don’t pay taxes yet receive government services. There are constant worries over alleged voter fraud. And then there are the more base fears, that the people coming here from abroad are inherently criminal. This is where Trump’s “they’re rapists” comment was really successful in stoking that fire.
Of course, logistically speaking, an open-door policy might be a little too much for American society to sustain. Look at the migrant crisis unfolding in Europe right now. We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of refugees desperately making their way through Europe. Local municipalities are unable to handle the sheer volume of people.
But does that give a more affluent society the justification to erect a wall? To keep their own surplus of food and shelter at the expense of everyone on the other side? That’s ultimately what this is all about, in Europe, in North America. This isn’t just an existential problem facing the extreme right wing. We all want the comfortable modern lifestyle without having to acknowledge the price tag for such a privileged existence.
We want cheap groceries without paying attention to the government subsidies funneled to big agro. We want cheap gasoline without confronting the horrors of the foreign policy necessary to secure our steady supply. We want to demand law and order without facing up to the fact that large sectors of our own society remain trapped by the legacy of our brutal past.
The price to live free in America isn’t just working hard and playing by the rules. It’s also predicated on the toil and suffering of those on the outside risking it all to get in. It’s the multinational companies paying substandard wages without the workplace regulations we take for granted in the USA. And it’s the locking up of huge swaths of our own countrymen while denying any responsibility for the largest prison population of any advanced nation.
Which is why, if you support Donald Trump, if you really want to build a giant wall along the border, whatever, at least you’re finally being honest about something. Just don’t try to turn around and say, “But I love Mexicans!” like Donald Trump does. Just call it like it is: you don’t like foreigners, you don’t like people of color, and you’d rather live in a homogenous society detached from the human capital that subsidizes your historically comfortable lifestyle.
And while I’m at it, I don’t understand this whole narrative that Donald Trump is some sort of political outlier. We’re acting like it’s this huge deal that Trump speaks with no filter, but I can think of several former US Presidents that spoke their mind and lived their lives without regard to political correctness. Thomas Jefferson is but one heinous example of the marriage between US politics and institutional slavery. Teddy Roosevelt is guilty of war crimes as an officer in Philippines. Lyndon Johnson forced his aides to admire the size of his penis. And I don’t care if he’s universally beloved, Bill Clinton took advantage of a young White House intern.
My point is, these guys are all assholes. We’re in the business of electing crazy people for President. With Donald Trump, we’re actually fortunate enough to witness a contender for the highest office that isn’t trying to hide all of the ugliness that the majority of politicians try to pretend doesn’t exist. I’m not advocating his candidacy, but we should take this opportunity to expose the ugliness that exists not just in Donald Trump’s rhetoric, but in the seemingly benign actions and speech of the men and women who aspire to elected office.
If you’re bothered by Donald Trump, that’s good, but I worry that once his campaign finally collapses, we’ll pat ourselves on the back and reassure ourselves that we’re better than that. But with such broad support, a total collapse of the Trump movement might be less likely than we initially thought. Which is why, if you’re against Trump, if you take offense to his toxic nonsense, don’t be afraid to say it. Call out his supporters as bigots and racists. If they get upset, tell them you don’t care about being political correct. Don’t let the other side dictate the tone of this election cycle.