Donald Trump has secured his role as the GOP political punching bag of this election cycle. His ongoing controversial comments on Mexican immigration have the Democratic presidential contenders swinging at Trump like a piñata filled with free votes. One critic has been quick to criticize, but hesitates to offer many specifics on his own immigration policy stance.
That man is Bernie Sanders, a first generation American son of a Polish immigrant. In his half hour presidential announcement speech, he included no details on the issue of immigration, according to CNN.
Sanders denounced Trump’s inflammatory language, especially when Trump said undocumented Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”In a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Sanders offered some more incite on his own stance. He supports a path to citizenship for current undocumented immigrants in the country,
saying that “millions of people in this country are working extremely hard but they are living in the shadows, and that has got to end.”
However, he still opposes the guest worker program and has been silent on other ideas such as stream-lining the immigration process in order to combat undocumented immigration.
Bernie Sanders claims that immigration of low-skilled workers lowers the wages and decreases the job opportunities for American-born workers. Does this talking point sound familiar? Of course it does. Donald Trump agrees.
“They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money,” Trump said, referring to Mexican immigrants.
In a speech to the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights advocacy group, Sanders said, “Not Donald Trump, not anyone else will be successful in dividing us based on race or on our country of origin.”
From that comment, it appears that Bernie Sanders believes dividing people based on country of origin is unjust. However, he sides with Trump when it comes to keeping certain people out of the American workforce based only on their nationality. This appears to be a glaring contradiction.
Of course, for many observers, this revelation is no surprise as it is consistent with his socialist philosophy. B.K. Marcus explains that organized labor, aligned with socialism, has a long history of supporting legislation that limits the labor pool. Marcus goes on to say:
“Any increase in the pool of laborers will put downward pressure on wages; it’s simple supply and demand. Representing the interests of established workers, labor’s solution has often been to lobby for legislation that eliminates competition from new workers — and the target, historically, has often been minority, disenfranchised, and foreign groups who don’t ‘belong’ in native culture.”
What is this force that pushes both Trump and Sanders to the idea of economic xenophobia? George Orwell explains this phenomenon in his Notes on Nationalism when he says:
“By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad’”
Orwell attacks Nationalism as a wicked ideal and he is not alone in his disdain. Albert Einstein famously said, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”Sanders makes no effort to hide his Nationalistic zeal by explaining that
open borders would be “doing away with the Nation state.” According to that logic, the U.S. wasn’t a nation until 1882, with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act – the first law limiting immigration in this country. I believe Sanders meant to say that open borders would be a great blow to U.S. Nationalism, which would be correct.
We also see Trump unabashedly toting Nationalism in his rhetoric. His desire for massive tariffs, building a great wall on the southern border, and his unexplained plan for “repatriation” of jobs from China all support the notion of economic Nationalism.
By saying that Americans should not have job competition from foreigners, both of these men believe that a human’s country of origin is grounds for discrimination. From these policy positions, we gain some incite on how to best categorize these candidates’ philosophies. Bernie Sanders has revealed himself to be a Nationalistic Socialist. Donald Trump’s questionable outbursts and scattered policy stances make him something like a Nationalistic Wildcard.
Although they disagree on many of the details, both of these men believe that America is only for Americans – of course, when they say “Americans” they are talking about the descendants of the early international immigrants that stole this land from the Native Americans. The ugly immigration rhetoric from both sides of the aisle shows us that Nationalism serves only to divide humans into groups for political gain.
We should not encourage a society in which humans are categorized and discriminated against based on the piece of earth where they were born, the language of their mind, or the amount of pay they seek for a day of work.