Just Hit Your Thumb With A Hammer Instead
As I wrote yesterday, my response to questions of liberal democracy is generally nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders and a casual “Democracy is okay or whatever.” I really would prefer not to think about these things.
But I still do. No matter how hard I try, I always find myself straying toward political websites and political feeds and political conversations. Perhaps influencing this are those that I follow, including various friends of mine, who care passionately about these topics. Which lead to this.
A friend Tweeted:
“I don’t understand why we don’t open immigration restrictions at least for refugees and humanitarian causes.”
I responded, glibly:
“Because conservatives hate brown people? This isn’t calculus.”
“Because liberals are protecting union jobs from competition? It’s not a partisan problem.”
And then, if only briefly, two separate synapses fired simultaneously: one political, the other practical. I told him his analysis was terrible (because it was). I recognized that my analysis wasn’t much better (because I didn’t offer the best explanation that I could have). I swore that I would produce an explanation rebutting his union claim. There is after all a far more obvious reason for Democrats to avoid the conversation and conveniently, this fits into our ongoing Democracy Symposium.
1. My initial response was poorly worded, in that I didn’t allow me to make the more nuanced point that I should have. What I would have written had I the necessary space was this: elected Republicans generally have to appear hostile to brown people, because that plays with some of the electorate whose support they count upon. Lee Atwater described this reality masterfully. This aggression is littered throughout the positions taken by elected Republicans, be the issue welfare or policing or drugs or most pertinently, immigration.
2. Which means that right at the onset of the idea that America ought to open its borders during humanitarian crises, there is already one party dead set against the idea, not because they as individuals are necessarily bigoted (another argument for another day,) but because saying, “Haitians are welcome to move to America as a result of that nation’s debilitating earthquake!” is perceived as costing more votes than it gains.
3. Of course, an opposing party can force based on the merits of its argument. That’s if it wants to make the argument. And Democrats, especially at this particular point in American history, aren’t going to make it, both because they’re a fundamentally spineless bunch and because there isn’t going to be any meaningful political gain for making that argument. That latter point is more important than the former.
4. My friend – and he is my friend, and a very smart man to boot, a man getting a PhD from an Economics Department that enjoys setting the libertarian world on fire with its enthusiastic embrace of Austian Economics – wrote that the reason Democrats would refuse to have the argument is because it would infuriate its union base. Nonsense. Unions aren’t going to lock arms in opposition to allowing humanitarian immigration. No, Democrats would refuse to have the argument because it not gain the party additional votes while simultaneously opening a flank for Republican criticism. Just imagine the field day that Republican candidates would have with any Democratic candidate that dared to consider opening our border for…for…those people.
Better yet, do not think about those attack ads. Instead, sit back and consider that a great idea – and opening up our borders to those affected by horrendous humanitarian catastrophes is a great idea – isn’t going anywhere because our democracy is structured in such a way as to make even the consideration of it a political impossibility. We’re dominated by two parties who put the kibosh on most conversations either out of aggression or fear. A pox on both their houses. Then slam your hand in a car door or accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer or drop a bottle of shampoo on your foot: each will be as satisfying as the realization that I’ve outlined above.
Which is why, to get back to the original point, I’ve got nothing better than that shrug of my shoulders. I don’t want to think about these things. Where is the fun in thinking about the fundamental bankruptcy of this whole ridiculous waste of time and energy that we describe as democracy? What pleasure is there to be taken from considering a system in which good ideas don’t die on the vine because they were never planted in the first place?
The answer is none – there is no pleasure to be taken from this. And so I choose to think of other things instead, not because there isn’t value in the act of thinking about it, but because I can’t derive any satisfaction from the act.