David R. Henderson  

Cristina Saralegui, The Dems, and The Reps: Multiple Ironies

PRINT
Wanted: Counterexamples to Kle... Dan Klein on the Econ Professi...

At last night's Democratic convention, Cristina Saralegui, formerly of the Spanish-language station Univision, spoke. Early in her speech, she made the following comment:

I was 12 years old when, like so many cubanos, my parents fled the Castro regime. For us, America meant freedom.

Her comment was greeted with almost total silence.

On the other hand, many Republicans would probably have cheered, because they have traditionally done so, when someone escapes, or announces that she has escaped, from Cuba. It's just that Republicans don't seem to want them to escape to the United States any more.

Let's count the ironies:
1. Democrats tend to want more open immigration than Republicans. But Democrats at the convention didn't seem enthused about why this particular woman became an immigrant, even though, in most people's judgment, escaping from a totalitarian regime is a really good motive.
2. Republicans tend to want people to escape from totalitarian regimes. They just are increasingly reluctant to let them in.
3. Ms. Saralegui, though seeming to favor immigration and not making a clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration, gave a speech in favor of a man, Barack Obama, who has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants.

Now, it's possible that Ms. Saralegui favors deporting illegal immigrants who have committed non-immigration crimes, the group that Obama has focused on. So this third might not be clearly an irony. Also, of course, she could believe that Obama's policy is awful and that Romney's policy is more awful. Me, while I can imagine voting for someone who is less awful than someone else--I do it all the time--I can't imagine speaking passionately in front of millions of people in favor of someone who is awful but just less awful than someone else.


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (23 to date)
Ken B writes:

I'm not convinced on 1. I live in a blue region in a border state and hear quite enough about 'taking our jobs' from Democrats. And of course 'Buy American'.

I am convinced on 2. Elian Gonzalez may well have won Bush the election in 2000. A rich source of irony there.

Considering the comments about the voice vote shenanigans at the GOP convention, and the comments about them, I'd say Villaraigosa's voice vote ruling is also ironic.

RPLong writes:

An important backdrop in this discussion is the American Left's longtime affinity for communist Cuba. At various points in the leftist narrative, Cuba has served as a symbol of American jingo-imperialism, Cold War wrong-headedness, leftist utopia, proof of the soundness of socialized medicine, and of course the most important thing of all: the Holy Grail of forbidden fruit of travelling!

So I count a couple of additional ironies:

4. The culpability of the American Left in Cuba's current predicament (considering T. Roosevelt's and JFK's actions against Cuba) as a contrast to the Left's romantic affinity for communist Cuba.

5. The desire to maintain places like Cuba as idyllic vacation spots while simultaneously and vociferously advocating for an end to the trade sanctions, which are at this point the only thing keeping Cuba where it is.

Gaston Briones writes:

[Comment removed for rudeness. --Econlib Ed.]

Ken B writes:

@RPLong: I don't follow you on 5. Can you explain the logic in more detail?

Floccina writes:

Another irony is that she argued for making the USA more like Cuba, more socialized schooling and medical care.

stephen writes:

I have always found Republicans not wanting to import more Democrats ironic.

RPLong writes:

Ken B - It's a cultural point, not an economic one. In my experience, the left is more enamored of destitute vacation locales, which are described as quaint and charming, than they are of fully industrialized economic hubs, which are described (negatively) as Americanized.

More broadly, I have always been put off by the tendency people have to defend "traditional ways of life" among the starving and destitute and deride their every attempt to modernize. It's part of what I think keeps developing nations in a constant state of "developing" and never developed.

But, like I say, it's not an economic point.

Seth writes:

"They [Republicans] just are increasingly reluctant to let them in."

I'm not convinced on this one. I know Republicans who think of it as a 'rule of law' (or more accurately, rule of legislation) issue rather than an immigration issue. They're not necessarily opposed to immigration, but they don't like simply ignoring the rules to let it happen off-the-books.

If we changed the law, using a democratic process, to allow more legal immigration, I know many who wouldn't have a problem with that.

However, I will fault them in that they don't actively support this solution. Their default is to enforce the law and tend to get blank stares when the discussion turns to changing the law.

I can hear Lauren pulling her hair out; commenters responding to each other!

But, it is both a cultural and economic point; they're not mutually exclusive. And, yes this goes back to the little problem Democrats have had since the exposure of Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, Sol Adler, Frank Coe (economists all except for Hiss). They're deeply conflicted about communism.

I also agree that this (immigration) is nothing compared to the hilarious Symphony in Give Me a G (in three movements). All they forgot was to include motherhood and apple pie in the vote.

Ken B writes:

RPLong: "In my experience, the left is more enamored of destitute vacation locales, which are described as quaint and charming, than they are of fully industrialized economic hubs, which are described (negatively) as Americanized."

OK, I see what you mean now. Yes. I recall seeing similar stuff with poor African countries. I remember a leftist documentary bemoaning "the war on subsistence" attacking the development of cash crops that made farmers richer. Apparently the world was better when they were susbsistence farmers on the brink of starvation. My romantic illusions are disturbed by your petty, selfish attempts to feed your children.

Bryan Caplan blames 'rationally ignorant' voters. Well I blame them for some things too. Like this.

Octavio Lima writes:

I agree with Seth. I think Republicans would not be opposed to legal immigration and assimilation. They do not like that illegals come to the US, undermining the law and not adopting the culture. They tend to bring with them the baggage from the old country, even if they fled said country to get a better life in the US. Case in point the lady who spoke. Why did she leave Cuba only to demand the US becomes more like it? That seems to be what ticks people off.

egd writes:

To echo Octavio and Seth, Republicans don't have a problem with legal immigration - even in the case of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy we have with Cuban immigrants. The RNC platform even called for a new guest-worker program.

The problem Republicans have is with illegal immigration: people who enter (or remain in) the country in violation of the law.

KLO writes:

I watched the speech, and I have to disagree. She was not one of the main speakers (had you ever heard of her?) and she mostly rambled on about her life. There were not any lines that generated a large applause during the speech, including ones that you would expect given the crowd.

Also, by her own admission, she had not previously been active in politics. More than anything, she seemed like she was up there promoting herself and her television show. Now there is something Republicans can get behind -- self-promotion.

David R. Henderson writes:

@egd,
The RNC platform even called for a new guest-worker program.
Not quite. Their platform states that a Republican administration and Congress "will consider, in light of both current needs and historic practice, the utility of a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed through a new guest worker program.” Consider the utility of something is hardly to advocate it.

John Thacker writes:
On the other hand, many Republicans would probably have cheered, because they have traditionally done so, when someone escapes, or announces that she has escaped, from Cuba. It's just that Republicans don't seem to want them to escape to the United States any more.

From Cuba? Yes they do still. From other countries, especially those that don't have communists but are just poor? No they don't. (Not that immigration targets increased, or was even an effort made towards that, in the 2009-2010 period.)

MikeP writes:

If we changed the law, using a democratic process, to allow more legal immigration, I know many who wouldn't have a problem with that.

You and the others repeating this delusion might believe that. George W. Bush doesn't.

Alexandre Padilla writes:

David,

I don't really think Democrats tend to be in favor of more immigration. I would disagree with that statement. They might be more in favor of amnesty against illegal immigrants but that's a political move to vote from the largest population of immigrants, the Hispanic population. Also, I think we should separate liberal people from the political class. Liberal people might be more in favor of more immigration (even though when the economy is not doing well, their support vanishes) but I like to distinguish the political classes from the people.

Second, I don't think Republicans are in favor of people escaping totalitarian regimes. They are in favor of funding people to throw out those regimes.

Ultimately, as Alex Tabarrok did on the accusation that most racists are Republicans, maybe we should actually look at the data. My two statements are both personal opinions that don't have value of truth but when I read and listen to these people, I am not sure I agree with either first two statements.

It is ironic though that many people who escapes totalitarian regimes, make fun of the French for their socialist regime, and support waging war against totalitarian regimes are supporting policies (on either side of the political spectrum) that either look very similar to those adopted by those regimes or could lead us to become similar to those regimes.

MikeP writes:

Alexandre Padilla is correct that Democrats are no fans of free migration either. You won't see either major party produce a platform plank like this:

Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.
egd writes:

@Prof. Henderson:
It appears we've both read the same language and gotten two different meanings. I read that quoted section that they "will consider...the utility of a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed" by creation of "a new guest worker program".

That is, create the guest worker program and, through it, consider where new labor is needed.

You (appear to) read it as saying they will consider a new guest worker program that has the aim of "util[izing] a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed."

Upon review, I don't think either is an incorrect reading, and I'm sure we would both prefer the former.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

johnleemk writes:

Both parties' platforms still pale in comparison with the Republican platform of 1864: http://www.sewanee.edu/faculty/willis/Civil_War/documents/republican.html

Resolved, That foreign immigration, which in the past has added so much to the wealth, development of resources and increase of power to the nation, the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.
Tom West writes:

Octavio Lima writes:

Why did she leave Cuba only to demand the US becomes more like it? That seems to be what ticks people off.

I've never understood this. Once you're a citizen, you're a citizen, full-stop, with all the rights and duties of a citizen.

One of those rights is to try to democratically persuade people to have the country follow in whatever direction you think it should go.

Frankly, I've always found the idea that new citizens should restrict their political beliefs to certain ones that I approve of to be somewhat repellent. After all, if my ideas are better (which I think they are, obviously :-)), then it'll be my ideas that prevail.

Quoting Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:
"Our policies have been simultaneously described as engaging in a mean-spirited effort to blindly deport record numbers of illegal immigrants from the country and alternatively as comprehensive amnesty that ignores our responsibility to enforce the immigration laws; two opposites can't simultaneously be true," she said.

Maybe she is an Objectivist. That would be ironic.

Al Lopez writes:

Cristina is doing what she is doing to promote herself, because she was fire from Unvision and also was fired from Telemundo, and this is the only way, that she can get in TV. The Republicans must be happy because she does not have many followers.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top