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A Rightward Stand From the Far Left

For the past many years we’ve been arguing with liberals on the topic of illegal immigration, noting how it depresses wages for the low-wage workers they claim to care about, increases the income inequality that so distresses them, has a disparate impact on the black Americans they champion, strains the educational and social welfare systems that are so dear to their hearts, and even the social consequences of importing Latin American notions about feminism and homosexual rights, but of course to no avail. Thanks to Vermont’s Senator and self-described socialist and surging Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, however, we finally have an argument that might persuade the left. Quite ingeniously, he’s alleging that illegal immigration is yet another nefarious plot by the Koch brothers.
In a far-ranging and fascinating interview in the internet publication Vox.com, the interlocutor made mention of Sanders’ “Democratic socialism” and “more international view” and assumed that it would lead him to advocate “sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.” Sanders replied, “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” The interviewer responded with a stunned “Really?,” and Sanders added “Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which essentially says there is no United States…” An unexpected argument ensued, with Sanders making the same liberal arguments against illegal immigration that we’ve always attempted, and the interviewer not attempting to rebut any of them as he stammers some nonsense about America’s moral obligation to take in all the world’s poor, and it makes for fun reading.
Sanders’ surprising stand on illegal immigration is one of his few deviations from standard liberalism, another notable one being a general respect for gun rights that he’s had since his days in the far-left Liberty Union Party, which called for “armed struggle” by the likes of the Black Panthers and Weather Underground, so it’s not surprising that he couches his arguments in terms that appeal to liberal sensibilities. Casting illegal immigration as a “right wing proposal” is a masterstroke, though, as one can see by how far aback his liberal interviewer was taken, and given the left’s susceptibility to even the most far-fetched conspiracy theories concerning the Koch brothers dropping their name is also a nice touch, but it’s hard to tell if his heresies will help or hinder his bid to upset Hillary Clinton. There’s already much howling about it from pro-illegal immigration Latino groups and their paler compatriots in the liberal press, but they’re already lined up behind Clinton. It could help him peel away a few black votes, but that bloc is also loyal the Clinton family and its most fevered elements are still sore at Sanders for saying that all lives and not just black ones matter. Low-wage workers and union members should find the stand appealing, but the former aren’t reliable voters and the latter are a dwindling number. Republicans will like it, but they’re voting in the other primary and are highly unlikely to vote for Sanders in a general election.
Sanders’ position will have great appeal to independents, but we suspect that most of them aren’t going to be fooled into believing that illegal immigration is a right wing position. The eventual Republican nominee is also most certain to be taking an even stronger stand against illegal immigration, and for the past many years all the opposition to open borders has been by the most conservative sorts of Republicans, and if he hadn’t been so startled even at the fellow at Vox.com would have pointed out this obvious fact. The hard-core supporters that have lately been filling halls at Sanders’ campaign appearances probably won’t being changing their minds about him, though, and at least they’ll be able to tell themselves that they’re not in agreement with those scary Koch brothers.

— Bud Norman

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Picking a Gun Fight

The president has seemed awfully cocksure since his re-election, but he might have at last overplayed his hand by picking a fight with America’s gun owners.
We could be wrong, of course. At the time we had thought that Obamacare and the $800 billion or so of wasted stimulus money and the flurry of taxes and regulations and the various scandals and all the rest of it would have aroused the country’s ire, but after a mid-term temper tantrum the country decided to go along with the program for so long as the entitlement money kept flowing. With the election in hand, a tax hike for the rich successfully imposed on the dispirited Republicans, the entitlement money still flowing, and the country recently outraged by yet another mass shooting, the White House has some reason to believe it can roll back gun rights by any means necessary without political consequence.
Still, from our perspective here on the plains there seems a strong likelihood of a significant backlash. The tragedy in Connecticut has at least momentarily created a climate favorable to strict gun controls, but the past couple hundred years of constitutional governance have inculcated in the American people a hard-to-break habit of exercising a God-given right to bear arms. A government can gradually whittle away a people’s rights with light bulb regulations and individual insurance mandates and smoking bans in honky-tonks and the like, much like bringing the proverbial frog to a boil, but striking at a right so fundamental as self-defense will not go unnoticed.
We find plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this notion. The National Rifle Association is polling better than Obama and its membership is swelling, gun sales are booming, newspapers crusading against gun rights are losing even more readers, many of the states are continuing to codify gun rights in their laws, and gun rights advocates refuse to be shamed by their supposed betters and are instead even more outspoken. Thus far the Republican party seems to be sticking to its traditional support for the Second Amendment, which should be sufficient to thwart any legislative attempts to restrict gun rights, and there is even reason to hope that the courts will intervene if Obama uses executive orders to circumvent the constitution.
Support for gun rights is widely spread, as well. There seems to be some support for gun control in the densely populated cities back east, where even such stalwart fiscal conservatives as Rudy Guiliani and Chris Christie are susceptible to the anti-gun instinct, but we have long noticed that there is considerable support for guns here in flyover country, where even some of our most infuriatingly liberal friends have closets full of the things. Our long and intimate acquaintanceships with numerous gun owners suggest that any laws which do somehow get passed by congress and upheld by the courts will be widely ignored, and that popular sentiment will celebrate the law-breaking the same way it during Prohibition and the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit and every other era of unpopular laws.
The Obama administration reliably refuses to let a crisis go to waste, to paraphrase the famous words of former chief of staff and longtime gun foe Rahm Emanuel, but in its attempt to take advantage of the raw emotions caused by the Connecticut tragedy it might be underestimating a sense of impending crisis that makes this an especially inopportune time to attack gun rights. Obama’s cocksureness has rendered him incapable of sensing the widespread anxiety that the already weak economy will soon come crashing down under the weight of federal debt and onerous regulation, and that when the entitlement money stops flowing those guns are going to come in very handy.
There’s a feeling afoot, too, that any government so fearful of its people that it seeks to disarm them should in turn be feared. That’s another old American habit that’s hard to break.

— Bud Norman