From Brexit, to the Yellow Vests, to the election of Donald Trump, working people in Western democracies have been sending a clear message to the economic, social, and political elites in their countries. And the elites still don’t get it.
That elite tin ear is clearly on display in the latest edition of the once-great opinion journal, The New Republic. In the magazine’s lead article, Lauren Markham bemoans the impact of current U.S. immigration policies that are metering the influx of Central American migrants hoping to take advantage of our broken asylum policies. “Trump Is Outsourcing the Migrant Crisis to Mexico,” states the headline, while the sub-header asserts, “His new asylum policy exploits America’s southern neighbor and threatens to create a humanitarian nightmare at the border.”
Never mind that for decades Mexico has been outsourcing its poor, unemployed, and underemployed to the United States. But two wrongs do not make a right, and no nation should be expected to absorb endless flows of migration just because they happen to have a failed state as a neighbor. Unless, of course, in the view of elitists like Markham, you happen to be the United States, or some Western European nation.
So long as untold numbers of migrants pour into the United States and, subsequently, into neighborhoods where Ms. Markham doesn’t live and where her kids don’t go to school, there’s no problem.
Sure, the United States has greater capability to provide for the needs of migrants than does Mexico, but the impact on Americans is disproportional. Residents of Queens, for example – a borough where Ms. Markham likely never sets foot, except to get to the airport – already send their kids to schools where one in three of their classmates does not speak English.
It’s not just that the elites are concerned about the impact of mass migration on Mexico, but tone-deaf to its impact on working-class Americans. Any and all complaints from working-class Americans are met with assertions that the people doing the complaining simply aren’t smart enough to understand the countless think tank reports that “prove” that they are actually better off as a result of mass immigration. And since a bunch of tenured social scientists have “proven” that we’re all better off because of mass immigration (because their degrees give them greater insight into your life than you have), then the only other explanation for the complaints must be xenophobia, racism, or some other profound moral character flaw.
This sort of condescension is not unique to elitists in United States. It is routinely displayed by elites throughout the West, when people object to excessive levels of immigration, onerous regulations imposed by non-accountable international bodies, or taxation policies that burden working people, but not the folks who live in the tonier arrondissements of Paris.
Elites who worry about the impact of mass migration on the citizens of Mexico, but who could care less about their neighbors who live on the other side of the East River, fail to grasp one key point: the anger and frustration of the working people is directed at them, not the migrants looking for a better life. Most of the people who demand that our borders be controlled and that our immigration laws be enforced do not dislike immigrants. They do, however, detest the condescending, out-of-touch elites (movie stars, media pundits, academics, tech billionaires, politicians) who continue to insult their intelligence and impugn their characters.