Veronique de Rugy: GOP Stands for Nothing

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

I am on break from blogging for the holiday and will return next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!


Veronique de Rugy, like many other non-left commentators, notes the recent electoral futility of the Republican Party under Donald Trumps' sway. (Leadership is not the right term for his dominance.) She then offers her thoughts on why. In the process, she does both major parties a favor by noting a major unmet need in American politics:
[T]he GOP has a problem that runs deeper than Trump (though it may have gotten much worse under Trump). It's this: Republicans today stand for nothing, and on the rare occasions that they do stand for something, that something is woeful. From protectionism to vile anti-immigration rhetoric, from government-engineered paid leave to the extended child tax credit, and from threatening to punish big tech and to impose industrial policy, with a contingent shouting "free-markets are actually bad", the party is in disarray intellectually -- a fact that plausibly contributes to its current disarray politically. [links omitted, bold added]
I think the problem is even worse than she thinks it is, but am glad someone of her stature is putting this out there.

Notably, de Rugy both identifies herself as a classical liberal (i.e., an advocate of free markets) and, reminiscent of American abolitiionists, not havi[ing] a stake in either party. I, too, would welcome either party or both supporting pro-freedom positions I could vote for over the current race to the statist bottom.

She also devotes lots of time on the related issue of immigration -- which, like freedom is part of what made America great, to reclaim a phrase being used by an orange-faced charlatan to sell snake oil lately:
Ellis Island. (Image by Carol M. Highsmith, via Wikimedia Commons, no known restrictions on use.)
[P]art of the classical-liberal package is also a rejection of hostility to immigration. There are many reasons why we should welcome immigrants to this country, no matter their skills and education levels. Bryan Caplan and many others have made the economic case better than I could.

There are many moral and economic arguments worth having about how much immigration we need and how to go about reforming the system. But recently, arguments coming from the right haven't been about immigration but about immigrants themselves. Immigrants, especially lower skilled immigrants, are often talked about, as a class, in obnoxious and demeaning ways revealing a fundamental ignorant way about what it means to uproot oneself from a country and move to another. [links omitted, bold added]
That rings a bell sounded by another immigrant, Ayn Rand, who argued that xenophobia was a manifestation of a type of psycho-epistemological functioning.

De Rugy takes a different tangent, which should gently scold anyone who hasn't been paying attention to this issue and win the sympathy of any thoughtful reader. She discusses her own experience as an immigrant. In part:
Enduring this hardship alone and having the courage and gumption to uproot oneself, I believe, deserves respect rather than the demeaning and baseless charges that so many Americans have, over the past seven years, flung at immigrants. We immigrants aren't angels, and some truly awful. But so are native borns. However, what sets us apart and should please Americans is that we've come here and decided to leave our homeland because we see something remarkable about the United States -- ironically, something remarkable that is no longer seen by so many native-born Americans. All of us -- native born and immigrants -- will next week celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey (which for me is a special commitment since I don't really ... like turkey!).
Agreed on both counts. (I also dislike turkey.)

De Rugy passes over the question of immigrants burdening the welfare state, but that is a question I have taken up in the past, and I stand by that answer today.

-- CAV

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