The Free Exchange is a regular series in which I answer comments to the articles I write at Black and Red. I welcome any and all of my precious readers to share your thoughts about anything I write, tweet or post. I promise to respond.
The Black and Red podcast is still in the infancy stages, but it’s coming along indeed.
Thank you, commenters and readers, for participating at Black and Red.
Black and Red Fan writes:
I just finished reading your comments on illegal immigration. I love it. This is the most clear and most organized groups of words on this topic that I have read. It makes total sense to me. Your words reflect Prager’s view who said that illegal immigration is not an immoral act, only a technical violation of the law. I agree with that completely. I actually supported the President George W. Bush/Edward Kennedy comprehensive immigration bill back in 2007. I was sad that it did not pass thanks to the Republican Party. I think what you said here is exactly what the GOP needs to do.
One interesting aspect of this is whether our viewpoint on this would be considered leftist or liberal or moderate conservative. I ask this because I don’t know about your experience, but this is the one issue where I’ve heard fellow conservatives be surprised that I have this “soft” view. Since they know me to advocate staunch and strong conservative viewpoints on just about every issue, they figured that I must have some liberal viewpoint on some issue and they think this is it. Frankly I don’t care. I don’t take a position on an issue because it is conservative. I follow the Bible and think out the issue and the conclusion I arrive at just all happen to be conservative viewpoints. I guess this is the one possible exception. Again it doesn’t matter in terms of the substance of this issue (which I agree with 100% of what you wrote) but just on a political theory nerd intellectual perspective, I wondered where we would fall on this issue. Thanks and I look forward to your comments if any.
Thank you so much for the comment. I’m glad that you found my comments on immigration clear–when I write Free Exchange articles, I’m a lot less formal and sometimes that informality can cloud my clarity. I’m glad that wasn’t the case here.
My experience with talking about immigration with other Republicans has been mixed. Most of the time, my views on immigration are pretty well received. Some conservatives, though, think I’m way to the left on this issue. My first answer to the question of where we are (liberal or conservative) on immigration is: we’re not on the liberal side. My second answer is: that can’t be determined in the “left or right” paradigm. These answers may appear contradictory, so I’ll take great care to make my case as clear as possible.
To my first answer, our approach to illegal immigration matches the principles of the modern Republican Party–namely respect for the rule of law and a concern for the welfare of others. Liberals take a more Romantic view of immigration–one that cares less about the rule of law and more about “helping” the immigrants. Talk to liberals about border enforcement, and you hear silence. In practice, though, they piggyback off of Republican efforts. What has President Obama done to increase border security? Not much beyond continuing what the Bush Administration successfully implemented. Obama has done more to push legalization efforts like the DREAM Act, and has failed the millions of children who crossed the border months ago. In short, the difference on this issue between left and right is that the left appears unconcerned about enforcing laws going forward or penalizing those who broke the immigration laws in the past and need to attain legal status.
Our position cares for the people: the illegal immigrants, the legal immigrants, the children of illegal immigrants, and natural born citizens who share communities with the newcomers. Our position also cares for the rule of law, mandating that those who broke the immigration law face appropriate punishment, be in good standing with our other criminal laws, and positively contribute to our society by working. So, in these ways, I see us as squarely supporting the tenets of Conservatism: personal responsibility, respect for the rule of law, and welcoming other people to be a part of the American experience.
To my second answer, liberal and conservative (left and right) refer to an answer to The Enlightenment–to The Age of Reason–to Modernism. Premoderns believed that objective truth was knowable and that it came from God. Our rights, therefore came from God. During the Enlightenment, intellectuals like Rousseau and Voltaire challenged that assertion and concluded that truth comes from man and his experiences. Therefore, our rights come from man.
Those who believed Rousseau and Voltaire went East and spawned Nihilism, Communism, Nazism–the brainchildren of Modernism. Those who believed that God grants us rights and Truth went West to England and the New World–America.
This dichotomy describes the difference between liberalism and conservatism in that liberalism believes that rights derive from man: Homosexuals want to marry? Let’s name it a right. Do you want your neighbor to pay for your healthcare and material desires? From government comes your right to these things. Conservatives look to God and tradition to determine our rights’ source: there is no right to kill the unborn because God (the author of Truth and Rights) names every life sacred. There is no right to homosexual marriage because from God comes the institution of marriage between one man and one woman (furthermore, he names homosexuality a sin).
So, in terms of illegal immigration, since this isn’t a question of the source of one’s right to cross the border illegally and live in this country, I don’t see this technically as a left vs. right issue in terms of a “political theory nerd intellectual perspective.”
We could stretch theory and argue that if all men are endowed by God the inalienable right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then the right thing to do is to allow all people the ability to partake in the American version of liberty and pursuit of happiness, but I think that does little to answer your question as both Democrats and Republicans would argue that they are working to achieve that end with their respective policy positions.
Let me know what you think of this. I hope my answer was useful.
Black and Red Fan writes:
Thanks for your comments as usual! I’m glad you and I could at least connect and keep in touch through this means. Now if only we can do so on a more personal level; we will have to work on that.
In terms of the Loretta Lynch subject: I am looking at the despicable lies by themselves since they are separate issues than whether the Republicans should move to confirm her now etc. On that issue, I’m agnostic. We may differ here but my philosophy is that even though we control the Senate, since they won the executive branch they have the right to appoint whoever they would like to such a cabinet position such as the AG. As long as the person is qualified and competent, I think it is the mature thing to just confirm Ms. Lynch. Of course we’re not going to like her views and all that, but the way solve that is to have won the presidential election back in 2012.
My reaction was only to look at their race-baiting tactics alone which it deserves. I don’t think this should be related to whether we should confirm her or not. I feel the same way with Supreme Court nominees. And so I don’t really care what the Republicans are doing or how impotent the GOP’s response is. That’s a separate topic to me. What do you think? I would love to hear whether you separate such subjects or not. Thanks. I’ll be commenting on the other pieces you wrote in a separate comment.
Speaking just to the Democrats’ accusations of racism in the Loretta Lynch confirmation fight–I agree that the tactic is despicable. This is what happens when they run out of ideas–they resort to race-baiting and fear tactics.
The question to ask, though, is “is it effective?” On that point, I think the answer is clearly, “no.”