A division emerges between the social democratic labor Left and the cultural Left.
By Ian Smith
The recent fiery to-and-fro between old-style social democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Vox-founder Ezra Klein was a perfect illustration of just how long it’s been since the Left was right on immigration. Klein, an immigration-novice who once stated we need open-borders or else the quality of Chinese restaurants would decline, attempted to rebut Sanders’ once-uncontroversial notion that excessive immigration depresses wages, by touting the increasingly popular, yet evidence-free, idea that an open-borders policy can actually solve global inequality. Although Klein’s response was less thoughtful assessment, more emotional spasm, it’s become standard argumentation for contemporary facts-be-damned Democrats.
Refuting Sanders’ argument that “open-borders” debases American sovereignty and hurts working people, Klein stated that the question was really a more ‘philosophical’ one. By making the “global poor richer”, he said, what immigration policy should really be based on is a ‘weighting’ between national sovereignty and global inequities. This overly moralistic but increasingly common position is a major subject of a new book on immigration: How Many Is Too Many? by Philip Cafaro. A philosophy professor himself, as well as a progressive against open-borders, Cafaro pillories his fellow leftists when they apply “overly abstract” and “highly general ethical principles” to a “particular policy issue in a specific time and place.” This usually shows, he writes, they have “little apparent understanding of the effects [such] proposals might have on the people living in that society.” This is indeed a fair sketch of the left today.