In the Morning Jolt yesterday (you should subscribe), Brother Geraghty asked whether Jeb is too enthusiastic about immigration. The question is prompted by David Frum’s piece in The Atlantic that Geraghty calls “the single toughest critique of Jeb Bush.” Frum sat through hours of Jeb’s speeches and interviews and wrote that “it quickly becomes overwhelmingly apparent that this [immigration] is the public policy issue he cares about by far the most.” He continues:
Bush seems to have something more in mind than just the the familiar (if overstated) claim that immigration can counter the aging of the population. He seems to think that there is some quality in the immigrants themselves that is more enterprising—more dynamic to use his favorite term—than native-born Americans. This is not only a positive judgment on the immigrants themselves. It is also a negative judgment on native-born Americans.
In an interview with Laura Ingraham, Frum was more explicit:
“[Jeb] is not satisfied with America as he inherited it, and he talks a lot about how we can’t achieve prosperity merely with our existing demographics… He seems to think that native-born Americans aren’t enterprising enough, aren’t energetic enough, don’t love their families enough. The solution, the way to repair the troubles of America is to change America through immigration by importing people who are somehow better than native-born.”
Jeb genuinely disagrees with Obama on many policy issues, but in this respect they’re two peas in a pod. As Frum writes in the Atlantic piece: “Both have built their campaign for president upon a deep commitment to fundamental transformation of their nation into what they believe it should be.” They are both Amerophobes, if you will.
But Geraghty raises an important question:
There may be a molecule or two of truth in here, no? Don’t many Americans take the blessings, rights, and freedoms of being born American for granted? Isn’t one of our most common laments that too many Americans embrace this philosophy of entitlement and whining victimhood, while we see legal immigrants coming here and working their butts off and being thankful for the opportunity to live the American dream?
There is a molecule of truth here. The problem is that immigrants are people like any other and they assimilate into the society around them precisely by embracing the “philosophy of entitlement and whining victimhood” that Geraghty rightly decries. That goes for all the other reasons Jeb and his ilk think Americans aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough, and doggone it, aren’t likeable enough to avoid their contempt.
If we have problems in our political culture, problems with the inculcation of good work habits, problems with the weakening of the family, how does replacing our people with foreigners help? The most charitable interpretation of Jeb’s preference for foreigners over Americans is that he thinks immigrants are inherently more capable of resisting the problems of modernity than weakened Americans and will somehow spread that resistance to the rest of us. But the reality is that immigrants and their families experience the same Fishtown/Belmont problem as anyone else. If anything, they’re more likely to end up in Fishtown: The native-born daughters and granddaughters of Hispanic immigrants have an illegitimacy rate of more than 50 percent, and the children of immigrants commit crimes at dramatically higher levels than average.
Mass immigration is not a deus ex machina. We’re going to have to solve our own problems.