Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Rooseveltian Wisdom

Understandably, it's doubtful that Elizabeth Warren would endorse the recommendation of author David Frum in his article in The Atlantic that the USA begin "reducing immigration, and selecting immigrants more carefully." It's also unlikely that Senator Warren or any other candidate seeking the Democratic presidential nomination would suggest an immigration policy which would

enable the country to more quickly and successfully absorb the people who come here, and to ensure equality of opportunity to both the newly arrived and the long-settled—to restore to Americans the feeling of belonging to one united nation, responsible for the care and flourishing of all its people.

Nonetheless, when MSNBC's Ari Melber on Friday asked the Massachusetts senator whom her "dream running mate" whether "living or dead" would be, she picked Theodore Roosevelt

Because he was brave, and he took on the trust and he didn`t care how many people were going to be mad about it, and he did it.  This is what`s amazing for the right reasons.  It wasn`t just that they were big. It wasn`t just that they were dominating an economy.  It wasn`t just that they were putting farmers out of business and competitors out of business and small companies out of business,  it was that they had too much political power.

 Not only was it a good choice and for very good reason, but another reason to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt is embodied in this passage from Frum's ("from Frum?") piece:

Where once the nation’s cultural leaders condemned “hyphenated Americanism,” today the hyphen has become a tool of cultural power. Those white Americans who might not have a hyphen obviously at hand now scramble to invent one. They have become “hardworking Americans” or “everyday Americans” or “real Americans”—separating themselves from a shared destiny with other Americans.

No American more eloquently deplored hyphenation than Theodore Roosevelt. Read his words in full, and you see that Roosevelt’s insistence on a singular national identity was founded not on any sense of hereditary supremacy, but on his passionately patriotic egalitarianism.

The children and children’s children of all of us have to live here in this land together. Our children’s children will intermarry, one with another, your children’s children, friends, and mine. They will be the citizens of one country.

That does not dictate a specific formula for determining the number and nature of individuals who should be admitted to the country. However, as Frum notes, "the challenge for today’s Americans is to allow that new demography" of ever-greater ethnic diversity "to develop in an environment of social equality and cultural cohesion." It is a concept T. Roosevelt would have understood, Democrats should embrace, and by which President Trump is appalled.

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