Michael Bloomberg may be one of the wealthiest men in the world, but that doesn’t mean he can’t empathize with the little guy.
The former New York City mayor and Democratic candidate for president spoke for all Americans when, speaking at a Mexican restaurant in Arizona, he said America needs an “awful lot more immigrants rather than less.”
In Bloomberg’s moral universe, America shouldn’t just welcome immigrants on principle. They are needed to “take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs—improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy.”
In one sentence, Bloomberg naively summarized the Democratic Party’s new stance on immigration. In his view—that is, assuming some charity in calling it his view rather than a cynical pose—immigrants are not only integral to the economy, they are needed to lift America up from barbarism.
History has no shortage of European aristocrats who looked down on America and its Promethean wildness, its love of commerce and consumption, its taste for the new over the old. But it’s unusual to hear a presidential candidate express contempt for the very nation he is hoping one day to govern.
Bloomberg is no woke professor. But he has, out of sheer opportunism and osmosis, absorbed, appropriated, and regurgitated academia’s view of America.
For a long time, immigration to the United States was understood to be a privilege, not a right. It was understood that American citizens came first, and that immigrants who come to the United States should be grateful for the opportunity and pay it back. They would do that by assimilating, by learning the English language, by being good citizens, and by contributing their unique traditions to the “melting pot” of American pluralism.
All of that is gone now. Bloomberg’s formulation is a complete reversal: it is no longer immigrants who should be grateful to America, but America and its people who should be grateful for immigrants, no matter the benefits or the cost. Historically, America was a confident and proud nation, welcoming towards newcomers but not to the point of dismissing immigration’s effects on the national interest. Now, it is Americans who are expected to assimilate to migrants and their cultures.
Of course, Bloomberg isn’t the only candidate who holds this view. Encomia to the unqualified virtues of mass migration are a staple of Democratic Party rhetoric.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Ivy League education has imparted wisdom that the working-class rubes who support Trump simply cannot grasp: it is illegal immigrants, Buttigieg understands, who are “subsidizing everybody else.” Their contributions are a net positive. Only ignorant racists ever think that immigration has downward impacts on wages, or imposes burdens on the welfare state. To the contrary, it’s Americans who are the drain.
Despite his reputation for being a “moderate,” Buttigieg silently nodded along when a black pastor said that illegal immigrants from Central America are simply taking what was stolen from them by the Polk Administration. Never mind that America went to war with Mexico, not Honduras; it’s not the particular facts that matter so much as the general idea. America bad, immigrants good.
The America Last Mentality
It would be a mistake to read too much into the pandering of either candidate, but their views reflect the new leftist orthodoxy on immigration.
It’s abundantly clear that Democrats love immigrants and want to do everything possible to lift them up, even when doing so carries no obvious benefits for the United States, or in fact has the opposite effect.
The benefits that mass immigration are imagined to bring to America exist mostly in the minds of Democrats who want to reconstitute the nation to their liking. It’s not hard to reason why a billionaire like Bloomberg or white liberals who live in gated communities might support cheap labor from abroad. Mass migration equals more Democratic voters and inexpensive housekeeping.
But the boon for Americans, especially the working class, is by no means clear. Like the mantra “diversity is our strength,” it’s one of those things that never really gets explained. It’s merely asserted, and everyone is expected to agree.
Bloomberg said it best: immigration improves every conceivable aspect of American life in every possible way, with no strings attached. This is really a form of bigotry, and a strange one at that. But it also serves a distinct purpose. If American citizens are inferior to illegal immigrants, then their interests and concerns don’t really matter. Therefore, whatever negative consequences mass immigration may bring for them can be dismissed out of hand.
This is circular, airtight reasoning. Anyone who insists that mass immigration hurts the American worker can expect to be shouted down as a bigot who doesn’t understand economics. They do the jobs Americans supposedly “refuse” to do. The scenario in which those jobs might be made more attractive by making the pay more competitive is never considered. The way to do that, obviously, is to restrict immigration. But only racists would even think of doing that. QED.
But Bloomberg and Buttigieg don’t really think that immigrants strengthen the economy or ennoble American culture. What they’re saying is that immigrants, legal or not, are morally superior to Americans.
Our elites all seem to agree that America is in such a deep state of economic, moral, and cultural indigence that its only hope for salvation lies in accepting more immigrants, and a lot of them. Any harm to the American worker is always ignored, not through logic, but through mere assertion. To whatever extent mass migration is justified in material terms, it is by pointing to superficial indexes of economic prosperity like the GDP and more consumer options when it comes to food.
The belief in these improvements is ancillary to the primary, underlying belief, which is that America has no culture, or at least not one that is worthy of preservation. If American culture needs to be enriched, then it must be somehow incomplete, even defective; America is thought to be defined by diversity, and nothing else. The very concept of the American nation is thin and tenuous as well, burdened as it is by the weight of the nation’s evils. Americans are saddled with the original sin of slavery and racism, the debt of which can only be paid by effectively abolishing American citizenship and sovereignty altogether.
But that’s no big deal, since immigrants are superior in every way. They do the jobs Americans won’t do, and they improve and refine our culture—not that there’s anything to be refined. America has no common language, religion, indeed any social ties thicker than the contract between Labor and Capital.
In such a system, the laborer has little to protect him. Not only must he contend with a void of culture and social trust; his replacement by foreign laborers is readily justifiable, since his American citizenship confers no distinct rights, and by the same token imposes no obligations on American leaders to put America first.
Anyone who has qualms about the impact of mass immigration is thought not only to be a bigot, but ungrateful. And nothing is less American than entitlement. Americans who think that their livelihoods have been worsened by immigration, who may wonder if mass immigration is a drain on public services, who simply have any questions at all about an unlimited supply of low-skilled laborers, are lacking in virtue, further justifying their replacement.
Disenfranchising American Workers
This is a total inversion of what it means to be a nation. By lecturing Americans to be grateful for immigrants and the supposed enrichment they bring, elites are really telling Americans to be happy with their own declining prospects, to be thankful for their dispossession.
The embrace of anti-American bigotry by the Left allows the ruling class to relinquish responsibility for the ruled, since the Americans placed in their charge are no longer recognized as special in any way. Their citizenship means nothing, since it cannot afford even the privilege of a decent livelihood. An American citizen is just a person who had the luck to be born on the right side of the border, a contingency of fate that the State must work to reverse.
No honest person thinks that mass migration as a social policy is all rainbows and fairy dust—nothing is ever so simple—but elites insist it is because of their underlying commitments to diversity. But their ideological commitments just so happen to dovetail nicely with their own practical and financial interests. Morally speaking, it sounds superficially virtuous, but in practice, it means cheap labor and more votes for Democrats.
Like Bloomberg, Buttigieg has no problem with free market capitalism, despite his progressive bona fides. Even Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), despite her socialist stylings, shares Bloomberg’s anti-worker views on immigration, as Breitbart notes. She believes that illegal immigration should be decriminalized to prioritize “actual criminals,” she wants to end “unnecessary” detentions (with special care given to the treatment of transgenders, of course), and “expand legal immigration,” including chain migration.
The rationale behind this is simple, like always: “[Immigrants] grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse.”
As much as Warren may want to distinguish herself from Bloomberg, they are both advocates of the same basic, neoliberal, culturally progressive ideology: America is just a marketplace, and diversity is our strength.
Bloomberg in 2018 accidentally gave away the true, elite origins of this agenda. In a moment of guileless, candid, callous truth-telling, Bloomberg said he supports raising taxes on poor Americans—those poor, ungrateful Americans who don’t realize how badly they need more immigrants to take the jobs they won’t do. The working poor, Bloomberg said, should be discouraged from drinking soda and smoking cigarettes by having more of their money taken from them. The Dead Kennedys couldn’t have said it any better.
What we have here is a particularly nasty convergence of old-school Republican cruelty to American workers and the fart-huffing sanctimony of the leftist diversity cult. In the worldview shared by Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Warren, all that it means to be an American is to be a laborer. An American is anyone with a pulse and a pair of hands who is willing to work for slave wages to make billionaires richer. Wherever they may come from, the billionaires are happy to have them. Nothing else particularly matters. Language, custom, religion, mean nothing. What binds Americans is not a common culture or even a shared history, but a common aspiration. Americans can come from anywhere in the world, as long as they’re willing and able to be exploited by a small group of ultra-wealthy people. Out of many, one.
This idea is, at bottom, dangerously undemocratic. If Americans are owed nothing, then their leaders are off the hook. That’s what the Democratic candidates are really saying: citizenship means nothing, Americans don’t count, and the rights and privileges of living in America are completely arbitrary. To a decadent ruling class, nothing could be more useful than an excuse to stop caring about the people in their charge.