All-or-nothing politics belittles us all

Roundup
tags: politics, Trump



Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the co-author of “The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools.”

I’m very smart. My allies are terrific, the greatest, the best. And my opponents are dummies, losers and enemies of the people. Who am I?

If you guessed the guy in the White House, you’re right. But he’s hardly alone. In many cases, my fellow liberals are embracing President Donald Trump’s all-or-nothing take-no-prisoners political style as well. The problem isn’t just Trump. It’s you and me, too.

Call it Trump talk. Its hallmarks are the complete denigration of your foes and a refusal to give any ground even when confronted by facts that don’t fit your point of view.

Consider Trump’s initial move on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded young immigrants here illegally from deportation. Like most liberals, I was outraged by the raw cruelty of that DACA action and by the disruption of 800,000 lives.

But I also know there’s reason to believe that some immigrants drive down wages for our poorest workers. As Harvard economist George J. Borjas has shown, immigrants without high school diplomas have increased the size of America’s low-skilled workforce by about 25 percent in the past two decades. That led to a $800-$1,500 drop in the wages of high-school dropouts, who earn on the average $25,000 per year.

That’s not to say that DACA recipients — most of whom earn high school or college degrees — have “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans,” as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed Sept. 5. But those of us who favor liberal immigration policies should acknowledge that welcoming more people from outside our borders can also disrupt lives inside of them.

For the most part, though, we don’t. Any such suggestion is deemed xenophobic and a concession to Trump. And that also prevents compromise. One can imagine a policy that allows more uneducated immigrants into the country but also provides training and assistance to workers to cushion them from wage loss. But if you can’t say the term “wage loss,” that’s not going to happen. ...




comments powered by Disqus