Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Documents leaked that a U.S. Government source leaked to NBC 7 San Diego show that several federal agencies created and used a database to track journalists, activists, and influencers with an association to advocacy surrounding the December 2018 migrant caravan. The caravan entered the United States via San Diego, and its participants were primarily from Guatemala.
Andrew Lepore | United States
Libertarian philosophy centers itself around protecting property rights. It also recognizes the immorality of coercive action against any individual or group. So on its face, the construction of a southern border wall seems contradictory to libertarian values; in fact, I at one time opposed it. But since diving deeper into the issue, I have concluded that the wall will provide a net benefit to individual liberty.
Misinforation about the Border Wall
First of all, it seems that many people have misinformation on the issue of illegal immigration. Among this is the incorrect statement that the majority of illegals come from overstayed visas. This is false: only 42% of illegal immigrants are here for that reason. Though this is a plurality, calling it a majority is deceiving.
Another common false point is that illegal immigrants do not have access to welfare. But an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) shows that 62% of illegal-immigrant-headed households use some form of welfare, excluding social security (compare this to 30% of native citizens). Illegal immigrants do in fact benefit from welfare that their children legally obtain via birthright citizenship.
Moreover, opponents perpetuate the falsehood that, historically, walls have proven ineffective in preventing undocumented migration. They say it would be inefficient and is just not worth the cost on taxpayers. Common responses include the notion that immigrants could go over, under, or around it. However, the facts show that these assumptions are ignoring the history of border walls across the globe.
For example, the construction of Israel’s border wall decreased illegal migration by 99% while Hungary’s did the same by 98%. In Soviet East Germany, before the wall existed, illegal emigration was a serious problem. Between 1945 and 1961, over 3.5 million East Germans walked across the unguarded border. But as the statistics below demonstrate, the wall reduced defection numbers by over 90%.
Once again, there are obvious contradictions to libertarian philosophy in the construction of a border wall. Most importantly, it requires the government to use coercion against those trying to cross it. Moreover, the government will be using our tax dollars to construct it. They also will use eminent domain to obtain the land they need.
Granted, those are immoralities, but so is welfare (a redistribution of stolen tax dollars). Large, government-funded public programs are as well. And so is allowing political parties to take advantage of democracy by permitting massive migration of a demographic that vastly supports larger government programs.
Risks of Illegal Immigration
Government spending has exploded since the 1960s and is continuing to climb at an unsustainable rate (see graph below). As you may know, the United States is nearly $22 trillion in debt. But what you may not know is that the United States is also in an over $210 trillion hole in the unfunded liabilities column for welfare benefits, social security, and pensions that we owe in the future.
To reiterate, a majority of illegal-headed households use welfare. Moreover, 6 out of 10 who cross the border illegally will go on to start a family that will consume tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year. Every dollar of this is taken involuntarily from citizens.
Even worse, illegals are taking up benefits owed to Americans who actually pay into the overcrowded system. $210 trillion is an enormous number which we will be hard-pressed to pay off; some even say that we never will. Our system already has far too many burdens and rising debt. It would be financially irresponsible to hand out taxpayer-funded welfare benefits to anybody who shows up.
Some dispute the validity of the current statistics, as the analysis does not account for household income or size. This analysis does not compare the welfare rate of illegal immigrants and natives in the same income bracket or with the same size households. It is showing that due to many factors, illegal immigrant households have higher welfare use rates.
Use of Public Services
Welfare is not the only program which allows illegals to benefit from American taxpayers. Due to a vast array of public services, illegals provide an additional impact on the American taxpayer. Wear and tear on roads, cost of emergency services, congestion, public utilities and more all contribute.
These may seem less impactful, but the numbers add up significantly over the years. The taxpayer cost of illegal immigration over the years will make the initial construction cost look like a drop in the bucket. The cost of the wall is one-time, while the benefits are continuous.
Support for Big Government
Another way the wall may preserve liberty in the future is with the preservation of a demographic with limited-government political leanings. Statistically, Hispanics are most likely to illegally cross the border due to geographic proximity. The Hispanic population also happens to be the demographic with the highest welfare use among illegals. Moreover, they are far more likely to support leftist government policy than natives.
The wall will help preserve a population that prefers smaller government by reducing the demographic impact of any future amnesty deals. In the case of such deals, massive demographic changes would take place. Most likely, it would not reflect the aspirations of native-born citizens. A large-scale amnesty deal like Reagan’s in California may not happen, but it is very possible. Such would have massive effects on the political demographics of the United States.
Even if an amnesty deal never takes place, illegal immigration has a significant effect on the electoral college and the distribution of seats in the House. Seats are apportioned based on state populations, which includes non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. So, increased illegal immigration without amnesty gives citizens in border states an unfairly large voice in Congress.
The Wall: A Net Benefit to Liberty
Every year, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants come across the border to work. But while they do this, many take advantage of the benefits the government hangs in front of them. Illegal immigration is not stopping any time soon, and neither is the welfare state. Every single dollar they hand to illegals, they stole from a working American taxpayer.
Granted, funding and constructing a wall will require some force and an act of government. That pinch of statism, however, is necessary to stop a tsunami of future leftist coercion. Construction of the wall can almost fully prevent this future pillaging of the American taxpayer. The protection of liberty we can achieve through its construction vastly outweighs the little liberty we must surrender for it.
In conclusion, if I could abolish welfare instead of building a wall, I would. In today’s political theater, though, the abolition of welfare is not feasible while the construction of the wall is. Due to the boatloads of money Americans lose every year due to illegal Immigration, the wall’s construction will provide a net benefit to liberty.
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Glenn Verasco | United States
I have dedicated an absurd portion of the past week of my life to understanding, discussing, debating, and writing about the recent Lincoln Memorial confrontation between Nathan Philips and a group of students from Covington Catholic High School. While there is much to take interest in regarding the matter, nothing is as captivating as the hallucinations people have had and, amazingly, continue to experience when watching videos of the incident. The human mind is a baffling device.
The other day, I opened YouTube and clicked on the latest episode of Steven Crowder’s “Change My Mind,” a segment of his show Louder with Crowder. “Change My Mind” involves Crowder and some of his crew members setting up a table in a public location and displaying a large sign that espouses a provocative political statement followed by the words “change my mind.” If you are social media savvy at all, you’ve probably come across the meme “Change My Mind” has inspired:
The stated goal of this experiment is to attract dissenters of the displayed statement then invite them to sit down and have a rational and healthy dialogue to express their disagreement. I am not exactly a fan of his, but watch Crowder’s videos on occasion.
As productive political discourse in America, particularly the online variety, seems to have taken a turn for the worse over the past few years, Crowder’s project is noble on the surface. But Steven Crowder is not the man for this job.
In his most recent video titled “PROTESTER SCREAMS Then Rethinks: Change My Mind,” which takes place at UT Dallas, Crowder has his table set up with a banner that reads “Build the Wall: Change My Mind.” But rather than a typical “Change My Mind” video in which guests are sitting down at the table with the host, the video begins with Steven approaching a group of students demonstrating against him a few yards away.
Throughout the rest of the video, Steven either hallucinates or lies on myriad occasions and acts as anything but an authority on rational discourse.
Free Speech Bullying
I’m often told that while free speech is a right, some speech has consequences. This is a fair legal argument but can be an awful human argument when applied too broadly.
First off, what is and what is not legal does not determine what is right and what is wrong. Driving through a red light is illegal, but driving through a red light at a completely empty intersection where the driver has the field of view to determine with certainty that no cars are coming from any direction is not wrong.
Saying “nigger” in front of a black stranger or screaming “fire” in a movie theater are not criminal acts, but they are examples of wrongful behavior because they are liable to cause problems without reason. This is to say that just because you have Constitutional protections that allow you to do something without government interference does not mean you should do it.
While some speech is reasonably treated as wrongful behavior that has consequences regardless of legality, some speech or expression currently deemed offensive does not deserve the consequences it elicits. For example, James Damore was fired from his job at Google for writing an internal memo that mentioned scientifically observed differences between male and female psychologies. Additionally, early critics of the Covington Catholic School boys whose initial perceptions have been proven invalid are moving the goal posts to argue that the boys were asking for trouble by wearing red Make America Great Again hats. Both of these instances illustrate active consequence assignment, as opposed to consequences coming about naturally. The people who bemoan evolutionary biology and the sitting president’s signature merchandise are being intolerant bullies, and third parties must stick their necks out and stand up to these bullies to preserve an environment of liberal expression.
About a minute into Crowder’s video, he decides to abuse his First Amendment rights to the detriment of others. Crowder, camera crew in tow, approaches the demonstrators, and says “I understand there’s a protest going on here.” A white girl (WG) says they are not protesting, but “representing our views.” She says this calmly and politely and, in my opinion, in a way that attempts to communicate to Crowder that they are not trying to dehumanize or demonize him, but simply express their countering views.
Crowder then engages a guy holding a rainbow umbrella (GHU) and questions his group’s decision to demonstrate instead of joining him at the discussion table. He, as calmly and politely as WG, explains as follows:
For one, there is a fear for our safety. We don’t want to be put online where people that have similar beliefs to yours potentially would dox us and come at us and harass us. We feel that our point of view standing here was enough to be said. But now you’ve all come here and essentially forced us into this interview.
When those critical of identity politics and modern left-wing activism here the word “safety” in the context of political and social discourse, it may ring bells of the “safe space” culture eviscerated by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their groundbreaking essay “The Coddling of the American Mind.” But what GHU and his group are afraid of is not encountering opposing views; they fear the same internet mob tactics that have upended the lives of the Covington Catholic students among so many others.
A black girl (BG) then makes another valiant point by explaining that her lacking public speaking skills could cause her to misrepresent her own views. Although I think she is underestimating herself, it’s a perfectly fair point. But none of this dissuades Crowder, and he continues to disregard their wishes.
By bringing these demonstrators into his YouTube channel and its 3.3 million subscribers, Crowder is not violating anyone’s First Amendment rights, but he is being a jerk and a bully and potentially subjecting them to undeserved consequences. And that kind of behavior is the exact opposite of what is needed to reestablish an environment for rational discourse in America.
Who called Steven a racist?
About half a minute into the video, Crowder’s voice, dubbed over the video, alludes to nasty accusations being hurled in his direction. We then see BG and a Muslim girl (MG) for the first time. Both girls are filmed saying “I don’t engage with racists” and “at the very least xenophobic.” No other context is provided at any point in the video.
After rejecting the students’ requests not to film them, about three and a half minutes into the video, Crowder confronts MG, who is a holding a sign that says “Immigrants are welcome here: change my mind.” Crowder invites her to his table, so he can take her up on the request implied by her sign. MG refuses by saying, “I’m good.” From behind Crowder, a female’s voice can be heard saying something along the lines of MG is the one who didn’t want to speak to “the racist,” which, at least in Crowder’s video, she did not say. Crowder continues his attempt to persuade her to speak with him, and she denies.
What’s important to take notice of here is that Crowder towers over MG. She is petite as can be, and he is a fairly hefty and tall man. Crowder also has a camera crew behind him, and spectators surround the entire scene.
I do not abide by the #MeToo principle that imbalance in stature, race, gender, or position of power should have legal ramifications. Adult female secretaries should not receive special legal treatment if they choose to sexually interact with their bosses. Adults are adults.
However, as I said earlier, legality does not determine right and wrong, and Crowder’s behavior here is bullying.
BG interjects and says to Crowder that the situation he is creating might be “intimidating” for some people. Crowder all but ignores her, and stupidly explains that it’s intimidating for him to be in a crowd like this too.
About twenty seconds before the five-minute mark, Crowder says to the group “I’ve heard rumors here that Crowder is a racist.” BG denies having said that. Crowder then turns to MG and asks if she called him a racist. MG says “I said I wouldn’t engage with racists, and I don’t feel comfortable engaging with you right now.” Crowder asks if this is because she thinks he is a racist, and she says “it’s because you’re crowding me and you’ve brought a crowd of people and multiple cameras, so I really don’t appreciate how you’re crowding me like this.” Some people in the crowd jeer her response petulantly. Crowder says he isn’t crowding her, which directly contradicts the mass of people and cameras that have encircled MG and her friends.
If Crowder were decent, he would have apologized at this point and walked away. He doesn’t.
MG calmly and clearly explains that she prefers to engage in smaller groups, not in crowds. Crowder essentially admonishes her for another minute until a bearded demonstrator (BD) raises two fingers, signaling he would like to chime in. More on BD in a moment…
I recommend watching this entire exchange carefully and listening to some of the things Crowder says. Then reconsider whether or not this is the type of person you should be listening to, let alone leading a pro-discourse movement.
Regardless of his views on immigration or anything else, BD, who arrives on the scene during the interaction between Crowder and MG, is the hero in this story.
Growing increasingly visibly annoyed during the exchange, BD raises two fingers and asks “Can I speak?” He then explains that he believes Crowder is doing something under-handed by basically exploiting a girl with possible anxiety issues in order to cast all of the demonstrators in a light of intellectual weakness.
Crowder then does something fascinating. In a near mirror image of the dishonest leftists he would destroy for throwing out accusations of racism when defeated in an argument, Crowder’s red herring response is that it’s “kind of like how calling someone a racist might be underhanded.” BD, who is quite eccentric and emotive, looks as though his brain has been twisted into a knot by Crowder’s non-sequitur rebuttal.
BD goes on for a minute or so explaining that coming to this campus, which is multi-cultural with a large immigrant population, with such an inflammatory debate topic is “shady” and that Crowder is exploiting the students for their emotional labor among other things.
Crowder, the self-anointed standard bearer for rational discourse, interrupts and responds by saying “everything you just said is inaccurate.”
I do not agree with Crowder that a wall should be built on the southern border, and I’m sure I would disagree with BD on a plethora of political and social issues (including the phrase “emotional labor” itself). But I would never make a comment as disrespectful, absolutist, or myopic as Crowder’s to either of them. This is because I actually want to change people’s minds, and can understand that their experiences and knowledge sets may be different from mine. I am almost willing to change my own mind and understand that every person I meet knows something I don’t, the 9th of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, which Crowder is evidently not heeding.
Around thirteen minutes into the video, BD (who tells Crowder his name is Nicholas) agrees to sit down with Crowder at his table. One of Crowder’s first comments is suggesting that sitting at the table “breeds more friendly, productive conversation” and that he doesn’t want to “shout out there.” Nicholas explains that he didn’t think that was an issue, and I agree with him. In contrast to the video’s title, no one had been shouting at each other. Yet, Crowder accuses him of “shouting” and “yelling” during the first few minutes of their conversation, which Nicholas says he doesn’t remember but is sorry for if he did (I like Nicholas).
At this point, Nicholas has remained polite and practiced active listening despite being smeared, mocked, and lied to. Add all of this to what I interpret to be standing up to the bullying Crowder on MG’s behalf, and it seems that Crowder should be taking notes from Nicholas, not the other way around.
Adding Insults to Injury
Crowder is both a political commentator and humorist with roots in stand up. While I love both and am a sycophant for political satire, the blending of politics and comedy can have mixed results. A benefit of political comedy is that satire and ridicule can be used to show people that they may need to reconsider their views. Another benefit is the inherent value of making people laugh, regardless of whether or not it’s constructive. Jokes are great in and of themselves.
One downside of political comedy is that people like Crowder, Bill Maher, and Stephen Colbert can hide behind their comic identity to avoid taking responsibility for flubs and mistakes while continuing to pose as legitimate voices when convenient. Another downside is that laughs, which should be elicited by a joke’s cleverness, timing, or absurdity, can also be generated via hate and confirmation bias. This has been on full display since Trump became a contender for president as jokes about him tend to forgo wit and instead capitalize on telling people what they want to hear. We the Internet has satirized this phenomenon as well as anyone.
Throughout the video, Crowder sinks to the comedic depths of Colbert and the rest of the late night clones with hackneyed and insulting quips about the oft-ridiculed terminology used by Social Justice Warriors. He refers to a reasonable and well-spoken argument made by Nicholas an “emotional reaction.” When Nicholas tries to defend himself from Crowder’s blatant misrepresentation of his arguments, Crowder sarcastically accuses him of “mansplaining.” After an exchange with BG, Crowder asks for a “bro-hug” then amends it to a “gender-neutral bro-hug.” When prodding Nicholas to tell him what an acceptable argument from a supporter of Trump’s wall would sound like, he asks “what, to you, would be the acceptable way for someone who disagrees with you to express himself, or herself… or xeself.”
Forget how disrespectful it is to presume that the people Crowder is speaking to actually abide by these concepts, and forget how dishonest it is to mock them without first knowing what their views are.
The real offense is his assault on the institution of comedy. By throwing these catchphrases in at such inopportune times, Crowder is playing to the lowest comedic common denominator. These jokes are about as original and as funny as calling Trump Orange.
Steven Crowder is not actually in the business of promoting civil discussion. He is in the businesses of promoting his own views and making his opponents seem worse than they actually are. While there are many on the left who are deserving of harsh criticism and denunciation, the students he bullied in his video did not appear to be the right targets at all. The students did not deserve to be treated the way they were by Crowder, and Crowder did not deserve the time of day from them.
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Juan Ayala | United States
There is no doubt that one of the most polarizing topics in American political discourse is immigration. Even before the ascension of the chant “Build the Wall,” the topic of the southern border had been at the center of heated debate. Now, with the government shutdown over a five billion dollar payment on a border wall, Republicans are not only in a battle with Democrats but also with their own colleagues.
The Border Wall Bill
With a majority in December, Republican leadership obtained the 213 votes in the House to pass a spending bill that would fund the wall. Eight members of the GOP voted against the bill. However, any negotiations will now stall as Nancy Pelosi has taken back the gavel in the House. For most members, it was simply a party vote to keep the government open; for eight, it was a vote against unnecessary and archaic protections when border apprehensions are at a low point.
In fact, to date, the Obama Administration deported more illegal aliens than Trump has. For center-right folks like me, I know that the media has made this a huge issue, and for good reason; Trump hasn’t helped either, at all. Of the eight members who voted against the bill, five were moderates and four are minorities. There is no secret that the GOP needs to market itself better to immigrants, suburban women, college-educated folks, and moderates. This vote shows exactly that; it also shows how they are failing.
Conservatives and Immigration
To be clear, not only is there an issue with the party, but also with those who support comprehensive immigration reform within it. Statistically, immigration is a net benefit to society. The majority of people coming here want a better life and add to our labor markets. Hispanic conservatives know this, as many older Hispanic immigrants are more conservative than the younger generation.
When some conservatives use immigrants to create the illusion of chaos, they must apply those same rules to native-born Americans. For instance, one Cato Institute study found that illegal aliens are 47% less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. Does that mean we need to be wary of our neighbors born in Iowa, Nebraska, or even California? No, but the same standards need to apply across the board. Blaming immigrants from the southern border (which, in 2016, the majority came from) will only make political enemies.
A Need for Change
Regarding border-states, the number of Hispanic Americans continues to grow. About 40% of Hispanic Americans 25 and older have gone to college. In Arizona, Hispanics make up 44% of all students and the dropout rate has dropped significantly. I state these facts not in a pompous fashion, but as a warning call to the party of Reagan, Bush, & Trump. If the GOP continues to ignore the growth of Hispanic Americans as a growing section of the United States’ economy, education system, labor force, and ultimately voting base, they will face many perils.
The 2018 midterm season showed us a few things. One of those was that Texas, a Republican stronghold, almost lost its status to an unabashed progressive who may run for president. Moreover, if the trend of bad immigration messaging continues, the GOP can say goodbye to any hopes of retaining Texas’ 38 electoral votes. Quite possibly, they may be also dismissing the future of their party.