for Shel Israel.Michael Bloomberg is thinking of running for President as an Independent. I hope he does it. This country is in a mess, and a candidate from one of the existing parties can’t fix it, because he/she will be bound by the principles of whatever party platform he/she runs on. An Independent, perhaps, will not be bound by the restrictions of party obligations. (Disclaimer: I am a registered Independent.)
Last night I was having an argument about immigration policies with someone I love who believes illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay in America, shouldn’t be able to work here, have drivers’ licenses, receive services, etc. You have heard this position; it’s the Lou Dobbs rap. We are being overrun with illegal alien criminals who come here to steal our jobs, rip us off, have their babies — and they won’t even learn English. And they send money back to Mexico.
Talking to him was really good for me, because it crystallized my own positions and reminded me why I feel the way I do.
I grew up right after World War II. My relatives escaped from Europe to Brazil and the US. Otherwise they were exterminated. The refugee Jews, like the refugee Irish and Italians before them, and the refugee Pilgrims before them, were welcomed with open arms by an America that believed the motto on the Statue of Liberty: "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…"
At that time, America believed that immigrants, and the resulting diversity, were what made America great. If you were a refugee, you didn’t have to wait for a visa, although everyone who came in had to make a stop at Ellis Island and be "documented." Then you went and got the low-wage job no one else wanted to do, until you paid your dues. Or you became a peddler.
I, the grandchild of immigrants, went to college and studied history. There I learned that the Founding Fathers were, by and large, a group of agnostics, secularists, and people fleeing from the stifling hand of the Church of England. The Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the settlers of Virginia and Rhode Island all came here, I was taught in school, so that they didn’t have to profess the state religion. Our country was founded, and has existed until this day, without a state religion.
So how did we get here, to a place where everyone has to be a Christian, in some cases only a certain kind of Christian, to pass the test of nomination for President? And how did we get to the point where, even though people cross our southern border illegally because we haven’t enforced border security for years, we now blame Mexico? And why aren’t Mexicans and Guatemalans, willing to do anything for a less-than-living wage, fleeing poverty the way our own ancestors fled their own scourges, welcomed the way we welcomed people in the past — with a chance to be documented and become citizens within a reasonable period of time.
Do you think people want to risk their lives walking across the desert, paying coyotes for false documents and unsuccessful rides, leaving their families behind, to come to America and mow lawns? They do it because they MUST. They can’t get a visa. And they can’t feed their families back home. Poverty is as bad as extermination. It IS a form of extermination.
But never mind the poor Mexicanos who can’t get visas. Neither can people Microsoft and Intel need to hire to stay competitive, which forces them to build campuses in the countries where they find the talent.
Someone has to set America back on the path that made us a world power. Someone has to restore the history of America to the public school curriculum. Someone has to tell us who we are, who we are supposed to be. Maybe a short Jew with a big ego, a bunch of money and no real party affiliation can do it.