Note from a Trump Supporter: It’s the Immigration, Stupid!

(Or a la Dave Barry, “It’s the immigration, zitbrains!”)

Ann Althouse predicts a cascade of smart, educated Trump supporters in the coming months. I am kinda sorta in the ballpark of smart and educated–for a teacher, anyway—and came out early for Trump. So I thought I’d take a break from my usual education beat1 and add my voice to the many efforts to explain my people.

Why do I support Trump?

I want another forty year pause in immigration, putting a near-total block on every possible means of legal or illegal access. In part because I’m a teacher who sees no opportunities for far too many of my students thanks to immigration, network hiring, and the constant wage pressure of a never-ending unskilled labor supply. In part because the government is incapable of enforcing the laws so necessary to our national security and well-being, since even the best-intentioned state and federal employees see themselves as providing customer service, rather than ensuring taxpayer and citizen interests.

Finally, I want to turn the flood of immigrants to something less than a sprinkle because the influx is fraying America’s cultural fabric. Immigrants sensibly exploit our cultural and political mores to their advantage, usually without malice or intent to harm. They are supported by legal interpretation of laws that simply weren’t written with any consideration of non-Western cultures. Few of the countries sending us immigrants share American values.

I’m willing to negotiate. But in order to negotiate, shutting down access through visa restriction and border enforcement (land, sea, or visa overstay) has to be speakable. For the past twenty years, the cosmopolitan elite, as Sean Trende calls it, has deliberately shrunk and shifted the Overton window for immigration by punishing opinion violators with social and economic devastation. Ordinary people like me who come out for immigration restriction could lose their jobs. I don’t mind anyone opposing my immigration goals. I mind the attempts to shut down and ruin those who support them.

I don’t hate immigrants. Like all people, they range from fantastic to criminal to every possible characteristic in between. But their merit is not the issue.

Americans deserve a vote on every aspect of immigration. For thirty years or more, the public has opposed the generous federal immigration policy, rarely getting a chance to register their disapproval—and on the rare occasion when they were given a chance to express their opinion, the courts consistently overturned their effort.

The government and the media also conspire to present immigration as a shiny wonderful gift to the country, opposed only by a few nativists and xenophobes, withholding unpleasant facts and generally operating as cheerleaders and gatekeepers.

At present, 25% of the country support deportation and a wall with no immigration at all, with another 30% supporting a wall and very limited immigration, with deportation optional. Yet no major media outlet, no politician joins Trump in catering to that view. Why not? Doesn’t the media want eyeballs, the politician votes? I’ve concluded that the wall of silence is partly ideological, partly fear of repercussions from the powerful. But I don’t know.

What I do know is that Trump comes along, supports just the tiniest fraction of my agenda, and the media and political world goes wild trying to shut him down. They fail, and in that failure, everything changes.

Immigration wasn’t expected to be anywhere on the horizon this election. And certainly, the media has done everything to keep it out of the debates. The topic barely made it into the GOP debates, on weak-tea issues that barely scratch the surface. We saw Rubio and Cruz arguing not about reducing immigration, but which one had flipflopped on amnesty—which they both supported until quite recently, along with all the other GOP candidates, in the world Before Trump.

On the other hand, immigration hasn’t made the platform much at the Democrat debates, either. No rhetorical flourishes on Republican iniquity towards immigrants, no yammering about the Dream Act, no long tirades on the plight of Syrian refugees. The Democrats looked at Trump’s poll numbers and other recent events (Eric Cantor’s unemployment, for example), and got the hint. They’re worried enough that Trump’s immigration and trade talk might peel away their union vote. No one’s making big promises about immigration on the Democratic side.

I’m well aware that Trump’s actual beliefs on immigration, as reflected in his stump speech and, presumably, his private views, are considerably more welcoming than his satisfactory official policy position, but think it unlikely he’ll do a general election pivot. If he were to win the nomination and pivot against restriction, he’ll lose the general. Full stop. The Donald doesn’t need me to point that out.

He probably doesn’t feel this way, but from my standpoint, Trump has already won. From the moment his polls rose after NBC fired him, after Frank Luntz’s idiotic focus group said Trump crashed and burned, after many experts declared him a nuisance,a clown, a bad deal, a a false conservative and through the re-evaluations of his appeal (but not his chances), Trump has understood the strength of and reason for his appeal. He never worried about the media, didn’t give a damn about elite approval. Every additional day puts the hammer on the media and the political elite who have suppressed any discussion, much less a vote, on the issues so many Americans care about.

So Trump’s willingness to court social and economic punishment has already paid off by giving Americans a chance to show how utterly on board they are with limiting immigration. He has kicked the Overton window several notches back to center, and I’ll be forever grateful.

Excellent analyses of Trump’s success abound, but they all suggest Trump’s rise is due to a variety of factors. I believe this is wrong.

Without immigration, Trump is nowhere.

His call to “bring jobs back home” wouldn’t be nearly as appealing if voters were worried all those jobs would go to cheap immigrant labor. Yes, his ferocious assaults on political correctness and elite sensibilities are attractive, but more importantly, they are essential for withstanding the media and political assault that followed his proposal. Hit him, and he’ll hit right back, upping the ante and distracting attention from the original charge with increasingly outrageous insults. Had Trump stoically stayed on message, politely trying to explain his way through the outrage, he’d have been gone before Labor Day. I’m delighted that he’s rendered the media helpless in its self-appointed task of destroying people for the wrong opinions, but that’s not why he’s doing so well.

Without immigration, Trump is just a billionaire dilettante politician with good timing, a populist touch and big hair.

This election has been amazing.

For the past six or seven months, I’ve been watching, waiting for Trump to cavil or backtrack on the essentials, holding my breath. And instead of disappointment, I’ve had the ….really, the only word for it is elation…as I watched the frustration, the astonishment, the fury at Trump’s success. Watching George Will’s head explode is—forgive me—exhilarating. Watching the Republicans–some I count among my favorite writers and thinkers–who called me stupid and desperate eat crow time and again after their earlier assurances of the desperate idiocy of Trump supporters and his imminent decline has brought me so much joy.

But my personal satisfaction aside, these Republicans’ shock and dismay at the depth of Trump’s support is a necessary first step if the country’s going to change its immigration ways, because change has to come via the GOP.

I don’t know what will take Trump down, if anything does. He’s created a seismic impact just getting this far, and I’m not going to count the effort wasted if it all ends in Iowa, or at some future state primary. I sense it will not. I think those who, like me, have longed for the chance to be a single-issue voter, are going to come out in droves.  I hope enough Americans will vote on this issue to put him over the top.

But if he wins the primary to lose the election, then my side doesn’t have enough votes yet. So be it. Sing me no sad songs about the Supreme Court. I worry about Democrat nominees, yes, but conservative or liberal, the Court doesn’t seem interested in protecting the nation’s borders. Maybe this last executive fiat pushed them too far. If Clinton gets elected, the GOP Congress can just get serious about the “consent” part of its job.

Recently, Ramesh Ponnuru declared that immigration issues are the new conservative litmus test.

Wrong. I’m not conservative. I’ve supported Republicans for a decade not with any particular enthusiasm, but because the GOP politicians have on most issues reliably opposed Democrats in their brand of crazy. It’s not Ronald Reagan or William F. Buckley that has me voting GOP; it’s Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, and Barack Obama, along with the causes they espouse.

The GOP has been pandering its electorate on immigration for long enough. What I guess the Republican elite didn’t understand until now is just how many GOP voters were, like me, pandering right back. We don’t really support the GOP’s goals intellectually or emotionally, but what the hell, if we vote for them, maybe our turn will come.

Trump is our turn.

1To my regular readers: I understand you range from liberal teachers to alt-right HBDers and everything in between; I’m not assuming a friendly audience. Feel free to fulminate.

About educationrealist

68 responses to “Note from a Trump Supporter: It’s the Immigration, Stupid!

  • countenance

    Education Realist wrote:

    Wrong. I’m not conservative. I’ve supported Republicans for a decade not with any particular enthusiasm, but because the GOP politicians have on most issues reliably opposed Democrats in their brand of crazy. It’s not Ronald Reagan or William F. Buckley that has me voting GOP; it’s Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, and Barack Obama, along with the causes they espouse.

    I respond:

    That was David French’s point in a piece he had in NR a few weeks back, that it wasn’t so much the minutiae of one variant or another of conservative ideological orthodoxy that drew voters, it was for the fact that the red team and the conservatism it supposedly advocates is the only other choice on the ballot apart from the rot gut evil diabolical left wing.

    • Diversity Heretic

      The late Sam Francis characterized the Republican Party as the Stupid Party, and the Democratic Party as the Evil Party. Most people of even general conservative orientation choose stupid over evil. Trump is shifting the Overton Window for the Stupid Party, which might make it the “Slightly Less Stupid Party”

  • Jim

    Both in the US and Europe the continuation of the present immigration policies will not take very much longer to profoundly destabilize both. It’s interesting that Merkel has been reported to have said that the Middle Eastern immigrants must return to their homes “when the war is over”. Even Merkel seems to realize now the madness of the present policy.

    • Ryan

      I think Merkel is just trying to buy time. Maybe if she tells people the migrants will leave after the war ends people will stop demanding they leave right away.

  • Polynices

    Wonderful essay. I love seeing someone express pretty much exactly how I feel about an issue. Thanks for reading my mind!

  • Mary

    Really thrilled to read your excellent article, you put my feelings into words. I’m a former democrat who reaffiliated to independent, and voting republican in 2005, after calling Senator Ted Kennedy’s office, and his snarky staffer called me a, “right wing corporate whore” after expressing my frustration with his and his fellows indifference to the realities, the displaced, discriminated against citizens, their friends and families he was attacking as “racists” “xenophobes” merely for speaking out as the first amendment afforded them the right to do, to say they needed their jobs, that they were being harmed. I’m fed up with both parties, including their fellow travelers in the libertarian and other parties, viewing the people as cats to herd.

  • TG

    Well said. Kudos. I too enjoy watching George Will’s head explode – such la ovely turn of phrase!

    Just remember: the entire establishment is for cheap labor. They control pretty much all the mass media, the major parties, the think-tanks, etc. If Trump loses I’m not sure we are going to be able to pull any sort of a movement together. It’s doesn’t matter if a majority of US citizens want immigration reduced, if we don’t have have our hands on the levers of power it won’t make any difference. Who else, other than (for the time being) Trump, can stand up to both the conservative and liberal establishments, and avoid being ridiculed and ignored into oblivion?

    As Joseph Heller said in “Catch 22”: They can do anything that you can’t stop them from doing.

  • mcineral

    i arrived here from a tweeted link by one of the alt-right people i follow and I am happy i got a chance to hear your POV on this topic.

    I must applaud your absolute dead aim on your take as to the overwhelming importance of the immigration issue to those now rallying around Trump.

    I also completely understand the joy it brings to watch the elite’s squirm in agony while trying in vain to somehow stop this conversation from happening.

    All the work of the global egalitarians over the last 50 years to convince western culture to happily assist in its own suicide is going sideways on them and they don’t know how to get it back on track.

    As you mentioned, the support Trump has is more solid than anyone is willing to admit (if they are even capable of recognizing it) and it will show up for him when it counts most, at the polls.

    My only addition to your well illustrated points would be my belief in the real crossover appeal that Trump actually possesses. As much Republican support Trump has, I can see just as many Democratic leaning voters in the heartland responding similarly now that someone has given a voice to their concerns.

    It doesn’t make you a “white supremacist” to not want your culture assimilated into a global worker class to be exploited by elites…

    it makes you a “white survivalist”.

  • Andrew

    I think your views are consistent with many Americans who are not necessarily died-in-the-wool Republicans, but feel we are forced to vote R because the alternative is suicide. Nevertheless, the last decade or so has been disappointing, to say the least.

    I taught for 15 years in a multicultural high school where 40 nationalities were represented, so I have a lot of experience with immigrants and have studied the issue for many years. Some of the paras I worker with were themselves immigrants from Vietnam Nam and eastern block countries, and they were very sad to see the USA going the way of the socialist countries they fled. Some pondered returning to Europe (this was before the current rape-ugee crisis) and told me friends of theirs who once thought of emigrating to the US had decided it was no longer a good idea. Even they, immigrants all, disagree with the recent policies of lax borders.

    If you haven’t already, you should check out Stefan Molyneux’s podcasts and YouTube videos – he discusses many interesting topics, including Trump and immigration, and comes from a anarchist viewpoint. As usual, I don’t agree with everything, but he always makes me think.

  • Florida resident

    Extremely good and important, dear Educationrealist !!!
    I learned about this post from Derbyshire’s comment at

    and it is really great, what Educationrealist writes.
    Most respectfully yours,
    Florida resident.

  • Dawson

    The jobs problem in this country isn’t about immigration. It’s about billionaires finding the cheapest labor possible so their companies can make more money. Your hero has even imported cheap labor himself:

    Ditto for foreign investments by the guy who says America first!:

    So Trump complains about China stealing American manufacturing jobs? Check this out:

    If corporate America wants to find a way to exploit labor, the Republican party will make it happen.

    If you think that a billionaire businessman cares about ordinary Americans, you’re fooling yourselves. But you’d have to be doing that to vote for a party that works so consistently and so successfully against your own interests.

    Something else is going on. Trump is a master at playing to the insecurity and racism of the shrinking white American middle class — people who are right to be insecure and right to want job security. Thing is, no Republican candidate is going to make that happen (and no, Clinton probably won’t either). They just inflame your fears to get your votes, while planning ways to make things better for themselves.

    Who cares about you? They don’t. Yet you happily fool yourselves because they pander to you.

    • educationrealist

      He’s not my hero. Nor am I convinced that he cares about ordinary Americans. I do think he understands what they want, and that he wants to be president.

    • Dogbert

      Dawson, I will settle for citizens getting a crack at the jobs here in the U.S. I don’t suppose you have seen the stats that show that essentially all the jobs created since the recession of 2007-2008 have gone to immigrants. What I can tell is that you would rather pull down a few billionaires than correct a problems that has a negative effect in so many areas.

  • EB

    A more sensible immigration policy will emerge no matter who is elected, due to the way that Trump has been able to build his campaign around this issue. But he himself would have a super-difficult time leading policy changes on this issue because he is more interested in throwing verbal bombs than in working with others.

  • Val

    I’m curious. I read Dawson’s links about Trump. What do you think about him complaining about Chinese companies stealing manufacturing jobs, but manufacturing his products in China? Or about him wanting to protect Amecian jobs but hiring cheap Mexican labor?

    • educationrealist

      What do you mean, what do I think about it?

      • Val

        It’s a pretty easy question to understand. What is your opinion of him saying one thing but doing something else?

        On the campaign trail, he says, “keep American jobs for Americans” but he hires low-wage immigrants in businesses he owns. Hiring low-wage workers in China to manufacture goods he sells here contradicts “protect American labor.”

        I’m honestly interested in how his supporters view this.

      • educationrealist

        “What is your opinion of him saying one thing but doing something else?”

        Was he doing that something else as a politician, or as a businessman?

      • Harold Lloyd

        Would you expect General Motors and Ford to produce cars entirely made in the USA even if it meant noncompetitive prices and losing money?

    • AnAnon

      All the companies that tried to keep textile work here in the US were wiped out back when Trump was calling for an end to free trade ~20 years ago. Businessmen have to play by the rules(or they get wiped out), what we need is someone to change those rules.

      • anonymousskimmer

        “All the companies that tried to keep textile work here in the US were wiped out back when Trump was calling for an end to free trade ~20 years ago. ”

        Not all of them. American Apparel didn’t (though it just exited bankruptcy), as well as a number of more niche manufacturers.

  • Robert

    OP, like many people I think you have some misconceptions about US citizenship-track immigration. Here are the ONLY 3 ways you can get into the US–which would you restrict?

    >A close relative of a US Citizen–outside federal legislation.
    >You’re a millionaire investor or MD/PhD the government wants.
    >Not one of those? You’re in a line 130 years long, or can be in a lottery that allows only 50K people to enter a year, or several special work-visa or other exemptions (e.g. you fought for the US in our many wars).

    The US is very, very, very difficult to get into.

    It is also in violation of a Pan-American treaty allowing free immigration through most of the Americas, which is another discussion. Most people called illegals are so due to a) Paperwork dragging, or b) US defaulting on non-citizenship track working entry arrangements especially with Mexico, causing people to overstay as they don’t know if they can re-enter, folks who otherwise would leave in a few years.

    • educationrealist

      I’m not sure where I said citizenship as opposed to immigration.

      • Robert

        It’s what most people mean, though I agree you don’t explicitly say that.

        Non-citizenship track is irrelevant. These people may be removed at any time and in any event are mostly retirees, students, etc.

    • AnAnon

      >A close relative of a US Citizen–outside federal legislation.
      An average of 80 people chain-migrate into the US for every 1 immigrant we take in.

      • Mark Roulo

        “An average of 80 people chain-migrate into the US for every 1 immigrant we take in.”

        It isn’t clear how these numbers work out.

        From Wikipedia: “Since 2000, legal immigrants to the United States number approximately 1,000,000 per year…”

        If each of those is going to result in 80 more immigrants, I’d expect a US population of 15M×80 = 1.2B just from chain immigration alone … from those 15 years. And we did have immigrants living here before 2000.

      • AnAnon

        that million includes chain-migration, and is primarily driven by it as per the above, getting in absent chain-migration or amnesty is reasonably tough, but after that point the numbers explode.

    • anonymousse

      “The US is very, very, very difficult to get into.”

      Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, and every meatpacking plant in the country don’t agree.


  • Roepke

    Isn’t his total lack of political experience and reputation as a poor businessman reason enough to not vote for him, whatever his opinions? I don’t suppose you’d want somebody with no education experience principal of your school, even if he had opinions you agree with about the hereditary origins of intelligence, to force an analogy.

    I suppose it’s possible that whatever white blue-collar Democrats are left might support Trump in an election, but his negativity ratings are so high I expect that the turnout among Dems would dwarf any crossover appeal. I agree that stopping immigration is important, but I can’t imagine how a Trump nomination ends in anything except disaster for that cause.

  • Jardinero1

    Your support begs the question that the President has anything to do with making immigration laws. The Congress has the responsibility for immigration and naturalization. Neither Trump, nor Sanders nor Clinton can do anything, as President except enforce the laws on the books.

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  • Portlander

    Right on, ER! 🙂

    I tell friends that I support Trump because he’s hated by all the right people.

    Here’s a story for you: Two summers ago a friend of my wife invited us over for a backyard meet-n-greet with our US Congresscritter. (The friend was a staffer for the critter back in the day, before the critter made it to The Show. For various lifestyle reasons people think we are rabid liberals, so we get invited to a lot of stuff here in Portland where we wouldn’t normally due to our politics, if anyone were to actually stop and listen.) So, at the event with a bunch of 30 & 40-something parents (which is to say young, given present-day white middle-class family patterns) I was the one guy with the chutzpah to point out that US Immigration Policy was, in judicial terms, an attractive nuisance to the immigrants, and not good for our own children either.

    Wow, you’d have thought I called the guy’s father a goat molester. Beyond the red face and raised voice, the substance of his argument were all the usual and conflicting Democratic talking points: we need the labor or crops will rot in the fields… they just want educational oppr. and a better life for their children… (But, um, what about the crops, you mean we have to import the next generation of stoop-laborers all anew? In retrospect, my non-ironic use of stoop-labor may have been what set him off.)

    I see my wife’s friend from time to time. It’s killing me to ask him, “So, have you noticed the immigration issue, which set-off Congresscritter So-and-So, is the issue by which our next President is getting elected?” I like it, assumes the sale — I learned that from our next President, too. Maybe the Cantor loss was still fresh in his mind, but it is telling what gets a Politicians hackles up. Yes?

  • Retired man

    I disagree with the one issue approach to voting. There are a number of critically important issues. Immigration is one of them. The biggest issue is a electing a president who can deal with all the important issues in a thoughtful and Constitutional manner.
    Trump and Sanders are for those who have lost faith in the system. I am not at that point yet. My heart says Cruz but my head says Rubio. And a pox on all those moderates.

  • Retired man

    And Althouse is running a website that is a pure troll. She always votes for the democrat

    • Roger Sweeny

      Actually, she voted for Romney in 2012, and has voted for Scott Walker for Wisconsin governor. Early on, she seemed favorably disposed to Walker as a presidential candidate.

      • educationrealist

        Really? I didn’t see her in 2012; I remember really believing she’d vote GOP in 2008 and then finally revealing she’d vote Obama, and I quit trusting her.

      • Roger Sweeny

        Really. She was disappointed in Obama. Thought he had run as a reasonable, moderate, listen to everyone candidate and then didn’t govern that way. She thought Romney would be competent, reasonable, etc.

        She presents herself as loyal to neither the “red team” nor the “blue team” and criticizes both (unlike Instapundit, which since it expanded about 5 years ago has become pretty much a red team member).

        Interestingly, her commenters run at least 80% “conservative.” She probably criticizes “the left” more than she criticizes “the right”–though that is at least partly because there is so much more lefty stuff out there.

      • educationrealist

        Right, that’s what I thought about her. Like Kaus, someone I enjoy reading because she’s willing to criticize the left–but then usually votes for them.

      • Roger Sweeny

        All through the attempt to recall Scott Walker, she thought he was reasonable and the recallers weren’t. So she criticized them a lot. She seems to feel that much of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin has become unreasonable and I wouldn’t be surprised if she hasn’t voted for any Democrats in the last 4 years.

        On the other hand, years ago, she was a fan of Senator Russell Feingold, who is a bit to the right of Bernie Sanders. Though I got the feeling that was largely a personal characteristics thing. She thought Feingold was honest, dedicated to the public interest not special interests, and told the truth as he saw it. Ironically, those are the same reasons many people have for supporting Donald Trump. Feingold retired from the Senate after the 2010 election but is running again this year. I will be interested to see how she reacts.

        Althouse is pro-choice (and about more than abortion!). She favors gay marriage and gay equality. She considers herself a feminist–which is one reason she DOES NOT LIKE Hillary Clinton. She is the kind of feminist who thinks you shouldn’t vote against someone because she is a woman but you shouldn’t vote for her for that reason either.

        Speaking of Trump … given Kaus’s singlemindedness about immigration, I can see him voting for Trump or Cruz. On the other hand, he will never vote for Rubio, feeling that Rubio needs to be punished for helping the “Gang of 8” almost pass amnesty lite in 2013 (and then lying about it).

      • educationrealist

        Yes, Kaus hasn’t said whether he’ll vote for Trump. But I suspect that, like me, he’ll vote for Trump or Cruz but then vote Dem if the Republicans put up someone other than those two, in that Misdeeds Must Be Punished.

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  • astonerii

    Funny, but Trump is for expanded immigration and will legalize the illegals in the nation.

  • sandandsea2015

    You said very eloquently what I tried to explain to someone in my family this morning. To me ending immigration is the hill to die on and Trump is the only one steadfastly arguing for it.

  • Kyle

    I’m not a conservative either. I 7sed to think I was a liberal, then I thought I was a libertarian.
    At this point trump should support a little socialsm, trump care, minimum wage raise, what have you. Get some of those old school dems to come over to the dark side?

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