Making it safe for progressives to talk about population

Hillary Clinton for President


This was not a hard decision.  Donald Trump is not fit to be President.

I could just leave it at that as he is so stunningly unfit that the case against him presents itself. But I endorse Hillary Clinton not just as the dramatically lesser of two evils but as a highly qualified candidate who, although flawed and significantly at odds with my own views about U.S. population growth, has the potential to be a great President and bring about great things for our nation and our planet.  The stomach-churning level of false equivalence in the media, the myriad attacks against her and the seemingly limitless parade of detractors with their exaggerations and outright falsehoods, have managed to a disheartening degree to paint her as a kind of satanic political demon. And far too many Americans have accepted that portrayal as valid.

I shouldn’t be surprised.  Far too many Americans also believed in 2003 that Iraq played a role in the 9/11 attacks, in recent years that Obama was born in Kenya, and still today that global warming is a hoax.  Of course, there will always be a subset of people who believe these kinds of falsehoods in spite of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, but I am shocked in this cycle by how many seemingly intelligent people, with no particular ideological bent, can see Hillary as just as dishonest and conniving as Trump.

Come on now, people.

This is not to say that Hillary is perfect.  And the DNC’s treatment of Bernie Sanders, who had my support in the primaries, is appalling.  I line up much more closely with Bernie and Elizabeth Warren in my desire to see Wall Street much more sensibly regulated.  And I don’t know Hillary’s real views on progressive taxation and free trade. My gut sense, in fact, is that she’s too cozy with the wealthy and, at least in her first term, will probably give far too much away to the 1% in the hopes that they’ll support her re-election in 2020.

It’s only since the first debate that I have begun to relax a bit about all of this. At that point Trump had been inexplicably closing the gap, triggering bad memories of the Bush-Gore election in 2000, when a notably unqualified and inexperienced son of a former president defeated, largely on the basis of personal appeal and a similar false equivalence evident across the media universe, almost won the popular vote and managed to scratch out an electoral college win with the help of a Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court.  So yeah, late September had me pretty anxious.

Now, I am cackling with glee at the box in which down-ballot Republicans now find themselves, having to choose between supporting Donald Trump–and losing the support of moderates–or rightfully criticizing him—and risking the ire of low-information Trump supporters.


I’m feeling so much better, in fact, that I’m beginning to think that this could be a wave election.

Imagine how much good Hillary Clinton could do if she had a Democratic House and Senate.  Higher taxes on the rich should be the first order of business, of course, with that money then used to improve education, including free or very reduced tuition for public colleges, rebuilding and modernizing our nation’s much neglected infrastructure–and the millions of jobs that would create–and shoring up Obamacare, hopefully with a public option or better yet, single payer.

Does any of this surprise my few readers, who might have thought, based on my concerns about the implications of large-scale immigration on U.S. population growth, that I would be a solid Trump supporter?  If it does, then they haven’t been listening.  I am a populationist, yes, but I’m a progressive first, and, like the Hampshire College community at large, I crave a brighter future where the special interests no longer take priority in our national policy arenas.  The collective progress offered by a Clinton victory that also manages to tilt the balance of power in the legislative branch to the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party overshadows in my mind the risk of still more rapid U.S. population growth.

I was not surprised, it should be said, that a leaked e-mail about Hillary’s speeches to Wall Street executives espoused the virtues of open borders. I have often pointed out the obvious conflict of interest evidenced by Democratic support of higher immigration and the tendency of new Americans to support Democratic candidates. More to the point, however, is the less-obvious fact that the Wall Street elite is highly supportive of open borders, for the same reasons that they support lower taxes for the wealthy and privatizing social security. They know that population growth helps their bottom line, regardless of the ecological effects and the growing economic disparity in our nation. Indeed, from 1984 until 2001, the Wall Street Journal ran editorials every Fourth of July in which they called for a five-word amendment to the constitution that would read, “There shall be open borders.” It makes me wonder how much the Hampshire College community appreciates the way that, in their attacks on those who believe we should reduce our immigration flow to a sustainable level, Dr. Betsy Hartmann and the Population and Development Program are doing Wall Street’s bidding. Hillary, whatever she might believe privately, was happy to present herself as the open borders candidate to the Wall Street crowd.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, focuses on the supposed evil tendencies of illegal immigrants and refugees, with the goal of energizing his base. This is flat-out evil and has been rightfully condemned, but I am hoping that the new president and the legislative branch will not summarily dismiss the concerns of Trump’s supporters. Trump has distorted the reality to the point where those concerns have been shaped into racist and xenophobic worldviews among a much-too-large segment of our society, but most of those people would not be susceptible to that kind of manipulation if they hadn’t been living through years and years of continual economic stress, stress that I believe has been exasperated, in substantial part, by a quarter century of unprecedented growth in the supply of labor and in the resulting demand for housing and other goods.  These people are legitimately worn down by the economic hardships they are facing. Trump is wrong to accuse Mexicans of being rapists and Syrian refugees of being terrorists, but the angst that he is channeling in this racist direction is real and pervasive. Plenty of studies have shown that racism and xenophobia grow in power during difficult economic times.

For the record, I have never been an advocate of mass deportations and have never emphasized illegal immigration as the primary focus of the debate about U.S. population growth.  Over the course of the last year, I have concluded that the best course in regards to the undocumented population is a form of legalization but not a path to citizenship. This may seem inconsistent to some but that’s probably because they are, with no small nudge from the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College, overlooking the population component and instead seeing the issue of immigration exclusively through the lens of racial politics. Seen as a component of population growth, undocumented residents make up less than a third of the foreign-born population and granting legal status to the eleven or so million present today would have little long term impact on population growth. Greatly increasing the number of work visas as desired by Wall Street, meanwhile, would have substantial population effect in a country that has already grown four times faster than the European union over the past three decades. The refugee program constitutes only a very small percentage of the total flow of immigration, and should be expanded considerably as other components of immigration are reduced to sustainable levels. This is especially important given the U.S. role in flaming the fans of violent struggle in the Middle East.

I look forward to seeing Hillary take the oath of office in January, and I honestly also hope that she has a Democratic House and Senate to support her agenda.  When the dust settles and they look to revive the Comprehensive Immigration Reform movement, I hope they’ll give due consideration to the needs of struggling American families and the ecological hazards of a still-larger wasteful U.S. population, giving a righteously uplifted middle finger to Wall Street’s hopes for open borders. But we shall see. We shall see.

We can talk about population growth after the election, Secretary Clinton, but until then you can count on my support.


This entry was posted on October 18, 2016 by in environment, Hampshire College, politics, Uncategorized and tagged , .


Blog Stats

  • 2,891 hits

Progressive Populationist

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: