The only British pastime I come close to understanding is British ale. Even then, further research is needed.
On the other hand, it is easy to understand that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s overwhelming victory proves cultural and economic fear remains a powerful motivator.
In an interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge days before the election, Johnson drove headlines when he said he would stop European Union migrants from treating Britain “as their own country.”
Newsweek’s Chantal Da Silva delved deeper into that interview: “Overall, the British prime minister made clear that his goal was to bring immigration numbers down and to prevent unskilled workers from staying in Britain. ‘Numbers will come down because we’ll be able to control the system in that way,’ he said. ‘What I don’t think is right is to have an uncontrolled and unlimited approach.’”
What this looks like in terms of policy remains to be seen. But looking around the world, it is delusional to believe fear and anger are not winning the day by claiming immigration is “uncontrolled and unlimited.”
Which, in the US, is a powerful contrast to the “Abolish ICE” and “sanctuary city” narrative motivating much of the Twitter-left.
Last week, as I walked the streets of San Francisco between meetings, I thought about all the other streets I’ve walked in the last few years. Urban, suburban, rural. (Honestly, I have such a great job.)
Looking around SF, I came to believe that we are facing a “bootstraps versus AI” election.
One side claims the future of America is white, rural, religious, bootstrapping. The other sees the future being diverse, urban, secular, AI.
The New York Times’ David Brooks describes this exhausting divide as the proletariat versus the precariat. And the parallels he sees, “Both are driven by a fear of the future, and of each other. Both have a tendency to embrace catastrophic, apocalyptic visions of the ruin around us. Dystopia has become the opiate of the activist class.”
Our politics lead the sides not just to look past each other. But to believe the other is a threat. The idea of common solutions isn’t even on the radar.
Which raises the stakes for 2020.
Because, in a “bootstrapping versus AI” America where, by 2040, 70% of the population will live in just 15 states, 2020 is a tipping point. Not the election, per se. But the leadership willing to buck the immigration narrative trends of their respective bases.
This leadership may or may not “win” the election. Yet, through what they say and do, they will be building the bridge where the two sides will meet somewhere in the future.
In the near term, these organizations and individuals, rather than letting Trump, or the Twitter-left, seize the issue, should offer a story that challenges their bases’ immigration narrative to meet Americans where they are. A story that recognizes the fear and insecurity many Americans face, acknowledges we need a controlled immigration system, but offers a positive vision of newcomers creating jobs, adding to the cultural vitality of cities and towns, and helping law enforcement and our military keep our communities safe.
A story that is realistic, positive, winsome. Which brings me to brunch.
One of the reasons the National Immigration Forum has successfully engaged conservatives and moderates like few other organizations is that conservative and moderate allies see us as constructive, forward looking, without being naïve or delusional.
Call it being winsome with a purpose.
So, a couple weeks ago I had senior staff over to my place for a holiday brunch. (Yes. I cooked.)
Instead of the typical conversation about strategy/tactics, I asked, “What will it take to be winsome in 2020?”
Through that conversation, we realized something.
First, we have had a massive number of conversations with conservative and moderate policy makers, grasstops leaders, and grassroots voters, who feel overwhelmed and, at times, terrified by a changing America. Yes, an exhaustion settles over the conversation when we talk about politics. Particularly when politics are agitated by the changes many assume will fundamentally alter their families’ lives.
Yet, when the conversation acknowledges those fears and turns to the changes Americans see and feel everyday through immigration, a smile of relief comes over their face.
A smile you can’t help but to call winsome.
So, here is to a 2020 that is winsome with a purpose.