Rich is right about Trump’s Phoenix address that “From an immigration hawk point of view, it is almost certainly the soundest speech ever given by a major-party presidential candidate.” It was detailed and substantive and touched on issues that everyone’s familiar with (like sanctuary cities) as well as less well-known ones, like the administration’s unwillingness to sanction countries that won’t take their own citizens back. (The text is here.) I hope this puts an end to the Jeb/Marco/Schumer talk that was so alarming last week, though I fully expect to be disappointed soon enough by the next dumb thing Trump says.
If we had a responsible journalism profession, this level of engagement with the issue on Trump’s part would prompt questions about the vacuities that make up much of Hillary’s immigration stance. I won’t hold my breath.
But perhaps the most encouraging part (other than the long-overdue critique of legal immigration) was the end to Mexico-bashing. Both in his successful visit with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto earlier in the day and in the prefatory comments of the Phoenix speech, Trump stressed that being pro-America doesn’t mean you’re anti-Mexico. You couldn’t really see it on TV, but Sessions and Giuliani were even wearing “Make Mexico Great Again Also” hats.
This is important for two reasons. Morally, it’s just the right thing to do. A true patriot loves his country without hating anyone else’s; even Japan and Germany, against which we fought a pitiless war, were not sown with salt after our victory, but rebuilt and befriended. It is especially important that a nationalist campaign stress this point, so as to lead its supporters away from the temptation of chauvinism.
The second reason is specific to our neighbor to the south. Mexico is the most important country in the world to us, after Canada. Nothing that happens in Ukraine or Syria or Burma or Swaziland is remotely as important to us as what happens in Mexico. As Trump said at the Mexico City press conference, “A strong, prosperous, and vibrant Mexico is in the best interest of the United States.” I would go further; the continued development of Mexico into a first-world industrial democracy should be one of the top two goals of U.S. foreign policy, second only to the avoidance of nuclear war.
Mexico’s independence day is coming up in a couple of weeks. As we would expect them to congratulate us on the Fourth of July, let us salute them on September 16: ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!