Yet one more opinion piece about tribal politics (“Seven ways liberals must realign with Middle America,” April 9). Politics today is polarized enough. What we don’t need is another self-help piece on how to be a better liberal, conservative, or whatever.
Actually, the “seven ways” the author said liberals could improve their message could be boiled down to just one: Don’t be a jerk. People are born with two ears and one mouth so they can listen as well as hear.
I have a friend who is slightly more conservative than I who came to me for advice about how to respond to questions from his 15-year-old daughter who was admonished by her teacher for not doing more research on an essay about immigration.
This young woman believes America should have stronger borders and put forward standard conservative arguments for changing immigration policy. What this child failed to consider was that her audience was one person, a teacher who was able to pay off his college bills while performing a low-paying job in a “liberal” government program.
This would be pretty strong headwinds for anyone to fight, especially a teenager who is better at pointing out hypocrisy in adult society than seeing the context for its conventions. I said that I would advise that child, writing an opinion essay for one liberal-leaning reader, to use an argument that appeals to liberal American values.
Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan was facing a dilemma: 3 million undocumented workers living illegally in the U.S. who were nevertheless needed to pick our crops before they spoiled in the field. Reagan offered these migrants a guest-worker visa program in ’83 and amnesty in ’86. This seemed fair at the time because we were already letting in Cuban refugees who braved the 90-mile journey in choppy waters if they touched American soil without perishing at sea.
Between 1983 and today, that guest-worker program turned 3 million undocumented citizens into 11 million immigrants living here illegally — many with children, so-called “dreamers” or, more accurately, anchor babies born in the U.S.
The U.S. needs an immigration policy that is fair, transparent and enforceable. Either we are a nation with borders or we are not. As cruel as it sounds, letting that “dreamer,” or anchor baby, stay is taking away a spot from someone else who has played by the rules, sometimes waiting in line for as long as 10 years for a shot at American citizenship. It makes no sense to be turning away brilliant minds who can create jobs for the U.S. economy to coddle those who jumped the line, penalizing all those immigrants who played by the rules.
Such an essay might not win that teacher’s approval, or even get a passing grade, but it would be honest and at least show an understanding of research to support an argument.
Peer pressure can be cruel for a child whose opinions are outside the mainstream.
Back in 1970, my communication class assignment was to present a persuasive argument in front of class on a debate topic of the day — whether or not our high school should have a school busing program. A 15-year-old girl who had lived in the school’s neighborhood all her life argued that school busing would break up neighborhoods, cost the school district money it didn’t have, and at the end of the day would not accomplish its intended goal.
To my everlasting shame I stood quietly aside (mistakenly believing the teacher would handle the situation) as the rest of the class booed that girl off the stage, and she fled from the classroom in tears.
If you wish to peddle snake oil on how to be a better liberal, count me out. However, if this essay is an invitation for dialogue with people with whom you disagree, then we have the basis for a conversation.
Come, let us reason together, and perhaps, possibly, just possibly, we may begin to understand each other, and to bridge the chasm of tribal politics that separates us.
Benjamin Cherryhomes lives in Hastings.