April 28, 2005

Reagan and Immigration

At Liberteaser, Joseph Weisenthal brings up Michelle Malkin's immigration blog as another tasteless example of the hair-pulling looniness oft found on the right that helps compete with the teeth-cracking wackiness of the left. I also recall seeing the Reagan quote associated with the country controlling its borders.

I laugh when I see it. Why? Because Reagan was probably the first politician to talk about a NAFTA-like provision. In 1979 he said we should have a North American accord to let people, goods and capital move freely across the borders of the US, Canada and Mexico. At the time, Mexicans and Canadians thought it offensive and did not appreciate the proposition. Of course, Reagan signed the FTA with Canada less than a decade later, so something went right.

It's simply absurd how the social right tries to claim Reagan for itself largely based on the perception that he was some sort of gunslinging war-hawk, when in actuality he was essentially a moderate libertarian. For evidence, check out this excerpt from Reagan's 1964 speech that shot him into Republican stardom:

    You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or a right. There is only an up or down: up to man's age-old dream -- the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
Granted, it's not necessarily anything that the social right would disagree with but the libertarian right definitely prefers this kind of language and thematic worldview. Not only that, but it's incredibly positive and forward-looking, while most of the social right prefers more pessimistic, forward-slowing imagery.

I'm not saying Reagan was a doctrinaire libertarian, but I think it's incredibly ignorant or self-serving to try and claim Reagan for the social right, which is especially true regarding the close-the-borders crowd.

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