Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders

We’re early in the formation of a grand coalition in opposition to Trump, but however long the task, that effort should focus on the top: Trump, his inner circle, principal surrogates, and media defenders. All in all, that’s a small group on which one may concentrate.

There will be endless tactical debates about how to reach this voter or that one, to shrink Trump’s room to maneuver here or there. These discussions will be well-meaning (as they’ll be directed at Trump’s political ruin), but they shouldn’t be our principal focus.

A focus on Trump, key aides, and those who defend him in the media will accomplish three things: (1) assign responsibility where it is most deserved, (2) allow concentration of resources, and (3) speed a separation of Trump from ordinary people who are mere marks in his long confidence game.

Blaming those he’s conned is a sideshow. (There’s a necessary exception for the very few who are of the alt-right; they deserve, in-and-of-themselves, obloquy whenever one has the time.)

If Trump breaks politically, it will come from the case against him, and his present supporters will by turns break away (or in any event will have nothing left to support). In this way, his remaining supporters won’t be able to support him adequately in the end. He’ll stand or stumble despite them.

If Trump should meet his ruin (and he will), it will come from a relentless case against his mediocrity, lies, bigotry, character disorders, and authoritarianism. One needn’t ask why people support him now; it’s enough to show him again and again as unworthy of support.

Now, there are alliances to build, and a case to make, against Trump and those in his circle.

On Obama & Trump

From columnist Dusty Nix of the Ledger-Enquirer, a comparison of Obama and Trump:

Barack Obama is everything so-called conservatives have, at least since the dismal dawn of the Moral Majority, told us a political figure should be: a dedicated and loving faith-and-family man, personally beyond reproach, publicly untainted by scandal or corruption. The man who succeeds him in five days is everything the same people have told us we should abhor and loathe: repulsively crass, gleefully promiscuous, serially adulterous, spiritually indifferent (at best), morally void and demonstrably corrupt.

Via Godspeed, Mr. President, and thank you.

One can guess that libertarians have had principled objections to Pres. Obama’s administration, yet for them all I’d not change a word of this comparison of Obama & Trump.

The work that awaits, as part of a grand coalition of millions of Americans, has only begun. Much is uncertain, and there are sure to be many difficult moments ahead. It is, it seems, for those opposed to Trump the regrettable but necessary work of our time to declare our views, and to act diligently each day on them.

And so we have, and will.

Paul Krugman Asks ‘How This Ends’

On Twitter, Paul Krugman (@PaulKrugman) has a nine-tweet chain on possibilities after Trump becomes president. The chain begins at 1:05 PM – 6 Jan 2017 and ends at 1:16 PM – 6 Jan 2017.

Here are those tweets, in order:

Some musings on the next few years: We are, I’d argue, in much deeper and more treacherous waters than even the pessimists are saying 1/

It would be one thing if voters had freely chosen a corrupt authoritarian; then we’d be following a terrible but familiar path 2/

But as it is we had a deeply tainted election, and everyone knows it; in truth the FBI was the biggest villain, but Russian involvement 3/

is just so startling, and so contrary to the usual GOP flag-waving, that 2001-type whitewashing of illegitimacy isn’t taking hold 4/

A clever, self-controlled Trump would be careful now to preserve appearances and wait for revenge; but instead he’s confirming his status 5/

as Putin’s poodle/stooge with every tweet. Pretty soon everyone will think of him as a Manchurian candidate, even those pretending not to 6/

Yet there is no normal political mechanism to deal with this reality. So what happens? The GOP decides to impeach to install Pence? 7/

Mass people-power demonstrations? He orders the military to do something illegal and we have disobedience by the national security state? 8/

Or, alternatively, overt intimidation of critics by Trump gangs? Don’t call this silly — tell me how this ends. 9/

Krugman’s last tweet asks readers to tell him how this ends, and he’d be the first to see that it’s the easiest question to answer.

We don’t yet know.

Distillation for a Resistance (First Edition)

We’re early in this new political era, with a long time ahead of us, and there’s a need to get a sense of one’s bearings. (The sound way to approach the new politics that has overcome America through the three-thousand-year traditional of liberty to be found in many places, the Online Library of Liberty being only one. But that’s the reading and study of a lifetime; there are essays contemporary to us that are both useful and readily distilled.)

These recent essays and posts consider, or a useful to understand, the incipient authoritarianism of America’s next administration. They are a good basis for a beginning, for a distillation of one’s thinking.

Some recent essays for consideration:

Wes Benedict Has a Book to Sell

Last month, the Libertarian Party’s executive director (Wes Benedict) sent me a tone-deaf, form email. I posted Libertarianism is Enough: Goodbye to the LP in reply, in which I argued that the Libertarian Party was an unworthy vessel for a liberty-oriented politics:

Imagine, then, after an election in which the LP did poorly, and in which libertarians now face a long struggle against radical populist advocates of state power, the surprise in reading an invitation from Wes Benedict, executive director of the national LP, that

It is time to party…

You are invited to an end of the year

CELEBRATION!

2016 has been a record-breaking year for the Libertarian Party!

Wes Benedict may go to hell, and celebrate there in the outer darkness for so long as he wishes.

Wes wrote again recently, and how touching it is to see that he’s concerned for me:

I see that your Libertarian Party membership has expired.

Any chance you could renew today?

You can renew your membership by clicking here

Or go to LP.org/membership

I hope all is well!

Thanks,

Wes Benedict

P.S. If you want a copy of my book Introduction to the Libertarian Party for renewing, you can renew at the link below for $27.53 or more.

A Trump Administration awaits, and Benedict writes “hope all is well.”  One would think Benedict had been living in a cave these last eighteen months.

Funnier still is Benedict’s offer (for a price) of his book – an introduction to a party of which his recipient had already been a member for many years. 

I’m from a movement family (those who have been liberty-oriented long before there was a party, and even before the term libertarian was coined), and from that vantage Benedict’s emails are instructive but have no emotional impact. If anything, they seem silly, almost absurd.

For one who recently joined, however, and let his or her membership momentarily lapse, Benedict’s message might seem different, as an insult to someone who sought meaning through party membership. 

Odd that he’s too clueless to see how silly his message seems to some, and how insulting it may be to others. 

Benedict’s book? No, the enduring works of the last three thousand years are the ones we’ve need of reading and reading again.

Benedict’s party? We need more than a single, small party now. 

Libertarianism has a long road ahead, and those devoted to it have much work ahead, in a grand coalition with those of different but friendly ideologies, to preserve free institutions in this country.

That may be the task of our time, and membership in the LP contributes nothing to it.

‘His thoughts are so correct’

Consider a letter from Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, autocrat, murderer, and imperialist.

Putin recently sent Trump a letter, only a few brief paragraphs, and Trump gave a statement in reply:

Download (PDF, 55KB)

“A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,” Trump said in a statement. “I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.”

The alternative path to Putin’s would, in fact, be desirable, as it would encourage democracy and productivity at home, and peaceful international relations abroad.

(Small but worth noting: for all the nativism Trump’s kicked up, he has a poor grasp of his native language. In his obsequious reply to Putin, Trump misuses alternate for alternative, and is maladroit even in his praise, using the awkward, ‘his thoughts are so correct,’ something a struggling newcomer to English might use. He has no valid defense against this criticism: Trump’s insisted that his own bar should be high, as he’s assured us that “I know words, I have the best words…“)

As it is, both words and actions show Trump to be unfit for, and hostile to, the fundamental characteristics of a free society.

Garry Kasparov on Vladimir Putin’s Election Interference and America’s Response

Garry Kasparov‘s a great hero of mine (and of many millions across the world), not simply for his unquestioned understanding of chess, but even more for his commitment to human freedom and democratic institutions. In the audio interview below, Kasparov speaks about Putin’s manipulation of our recent election.

(By the way, Kasparov’s excellent book, Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, is now out in paperback, and is also available @ Amazon in hardcover, Kindle, Audible, or mp3 CD format.)

 

Putin Revels in Victory Over America


A man wants to read a woman’s diary, so he breaks into her house, steals it, and publishes it to all the world. When confronted, he denies he’s done anything wrong, and instead revels in his act, on the theory that it’s more important for others to know the woman’s private thoughts.

It should come as no surprise that a dictator, having eviscerated private life in his own country, would see no wrong in transgressing the distinction between public and private in a foreign, still-free society.  There is no freedom if there is no private space,  such as that of a private political party, beyond others’ reach.

Here’s Putin, crowing over Russian hacking and Trump’s victory:

“Democrats are losing on every front and looking for people to blame everywhere,” Putin said in answer to a Russian TV host, one of 1,400 journalists accredited to the marathon session. “They need to learn to lose with dignity.”

The Kremlin leader pointed out Republicans had won the House and Senate, remarking “Did we do that, too?” [N.B.: Yes, Russians interfered in legislative elections, too.  See Democratic House Candidates Were Also Targets of Russian Hacking.]

“Trump understood the mood of the people and kept going until the end, when nobody believed in him,” Putin said, adding with a grin. “Except for you and me.”

Putin has repeatedly denied involvement despite the accusations coming from the White House, and the Kremlin has repeatedly questioned the evidence for the U.S. claims. On Friday he borrowed from Trump’s dismissal of the accusations, remarking “maybe it was someone lying on the couch who did it.”

“And it’s not important who did the hacking, it’s important that the information that was revealed was true, that is important,” Putin said, referring to the emails that showed that party leaders had favored Hillary Clinton.

Wait, Really? Bill O’Reilly?


Erik Wemple reports today that Bill O’Reilly becomes spokesman for white America.

Honestly, I had no idea. I’ve been white all my life, and no one even bothered to ask me. No SurveyMonkey, no paper questionnaire, not even an unscientific online poll…nothing. I had to read about it in Wemple’s blog.

There must be – simply must be – at least a few other whites who find O’Reilly’s selection surprising. A quick look at the latest Census data shows that over 70% of Americans are white, amounting to approximately 226,000,000 million people. Is Bill O’Reilly the best that we could do? (To get an idea of how repulsive O’Reilly is, he gave a defense in July 2016 of slavery – by his justification, some slaves were “well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.”)

America has produced some pretty darn noteworthy whites, among whom one finds more than ‘spokespeople’: Abraham Lincoln, Jonas Salk, Lou Gehrig, Sandra Day O’Connor, Bob Dylan, and (of course) the always-charming Betty White.

Now?

Bill O’Reilly’s somehow, in some way, our unrequested racial spokesperson.

Honest to goodness, so much for a holly jolly Christmas; it’s going to take more than one eggnog to turn this around.

Gingrich’s Defense of a Self-Pardoning Administration: From Bad (12.19) to Much Worse (12.21)

On the Diane Rehm Show of 12.19.16, former Speaker of the House Gingrich offered that a Trump Administration could simply pardon its own advisors to remove those advisors’ unlawful conflicts of interest:

I think in the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. I mean, it is a totally open power, and he could simply say look, I want them to be my advisors, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period. And technically under the Constitution he has that level of authority.

An administration like this would be – not merely technically, but in fact – a lawless one (where law was used to negate the demands of the law).

Two days later, Gingrich repeated his assertion that a president could act this way (revealing it as a trial balloon of sorts, “I’m not saying he should. I’m not saying he will’):

The Constitution gives the president of the United States an extraordinarily wide grant of authority to use the power of the pardon. I’m not saying he should. I’m not saying he will. It also allows a president in a national security moment to say to somebody, “Go do X,” even if it’s technically against the law, and, “Here’s your pardon because I am ordering you as commander-in-chief to go do this.”

Under this reading of the Constitution, what couldn’t a commander-in-chief do, in the name of national security?  The answer is that there is nothing he could not do, or (affirmatively formulated) that he could do anything and thereafter pardon those responsible.

Note also the change in circumstances on which Gingrich grounds his remarks: on 12.19 he’s talking about conflicts of interest within an administration, but by 12.21 he’s discussing use of state power under a claim of national security. Perhaps Gingrich thinks the change in circumstances limits the scope of how a president might use the pardon power, but it fact his later example actually expands dramatically the power of the chief executive.

The 12.19 example’s use of pardons might involve wrongful but non-violent business conflicts; the 12.21 example’s use of pardons would exonerate the use of violent force (whether used abroad or domestically) of any possible magnitude against supposed national enemies.

Gingrich’s new second formulation is worse than his first: any location, any amount of force, thereafter subject to pardon by the president of the United States.

Declaration Over Pledge

When I was a child, we would – as students and politicians do today – recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It sticks in my memory, and so it’s easy to type its words without looking them up: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Among those thirty-one words, there’s mention of liberty, but not so much, so vividly, as the first thirty-six words that declared to all the world America’s deepest, founding principles:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Someday, a time that will be a better day, I believe that we will wisely begin our affairs with a declaration over a pledge.

The Work of the Next Several Years 

Charles Blow writes of the work ahead for those many citizens who now find themselves compelled to defend their rights:

I fully understand that elevated outrage is hard to maintain. It’s exhausting.

But the alternative is surrender to national nihilism and the welcoming of woe.

The next four years could be epochal years in the history of this country. They could test the limits of presidential power and the public’s passivity.

I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!

Via Donald Trump, This Is Not Normal! – The New York Times.

One cannot say that this will be the work only of the next few years, knowing that often a few years stretch into several. There will be some moments of weariness; they will prove nothing as against the vigor that comes from being in the right.

When Are We?

A simple but significant question about the time in which we live: when are we?  That is, looking at past events, how far along would we say we are in within a given historical progression (assuming one can say)?  Assuming one can say is hardly a simple conditional, but if one could venture a guess, what might one guess?

I’d say that, nationally, we’re at the beginning of something, where that beginning will lead to far worse and far more volatile conditions, perhaps for many years.  I say that locally, we’re in the middle of something much smaller, where this small city is likely to see a continuing but slow decline, likely for several more years.

Which, though, matters more?  In good national times, one might principally focus on local matters (although I’ve always argued that local should be considered from a national perspective).  Yet, I’ve not even the least perceptible feeling that these are good national times.  On the contrary, these days have the feel of incipient loss, with this beautiful republic at risk, of a kind unlike that expereienced within our time.

I write all this coldly, with composure, as I’d guess the country has a not a sudden, but rather a lengthy, time of struggle ahead.

Perhaps one can’t find the comparison, but it’s worth noting that a man in the Boston of 1861 or in the New York of 1939 would have more on his mind than events close at hand.

At the least, one would hope so.

If ever one had confirmation that a narrowly and exclusively local focus was foolish, then one has that confirmation now.

Alexei Navalany Announces Run for President of Russia

If Alexei Navalany is willing to fight against Putin, in a society where Putin’s authoritarianism is much advanced, then we in America who are the fortunate & blessed heirs of a democratic tradition (where authoritarianism is yet only nascent) have no justification for reluctance to join our own fight.

We’ll find those we can support, from among our hundreds of millions, with much good work we can do in support.

In a Principled Opposition, the Basis for a Grand Coalition

Writing at The Week, Jeff Spross nicely summarizes Why Trump’s Cabinet poses a unique threat to the working class.  Spross both explains Trump perceptively & succinctly, and in the same post implicitly holds out the prospect of a grand coalition (principled liberals, conservatives, and libertarians) to oppose him. (For an explicit call for broad opposition, from a conservative, see Evan McMullin’s Ten Points for Principled Opposition to Authoritarianism.)

Libertarians can easily agree with both Spross & McMullin.

First, Spross’s spot-on description of Trump, someone far from the traditional American political spectrum:

Trump is an authoritarian. And like all authoritarians, he wants the adulation of the masses. So he’s happy to ditch GOP ideological orthodoxy to throw voters the occasional scrap of economic populism. But being an authoritarian, he also wants zero democratic accountability. And unions are one of the most powerful and effective institutions Western society has yet devised for making both the economic and political powers-that-be answerable to working people. Trump wants nothing to do with that. His combination of reactionary populist rhetoric with a Cabinet and agenda that looks set to smash the American labor movement to smithereens is not some mistake or oversight. It’s a perfectly logical outgrowth of Trump’s specific worldview.

It wasn’t long ago, truly, that almost all libertarians saw that freedom of association was in the very fiber of a free society, and that anyone (including public employees) should be able to form associations to bargain against an employer, whether government or business.  There are many of us who yet feel this way, and will never yield our wider view to a narrower one.

Spross does more, however, than describe Trump accurately.  He implicitly recognizes the possibility of a grand coalition of left, right, and libertarian against Trump:

Trump’s goal is neither a coherent set of pro-worker social values and policies, nor a coherent set of free-market social values and policies. Rather, his goal is the obedience of both realms to a central strongman — namely, himself.

We can – and should – form alliances from diverse parts of American politics.  There is not a single political difference between the principled left, right, or libertarian that matters more than the assurance of a free society and the defeat of its authoritarian enemies.

We’ve much good work to do.

Evan McMullin’s Ten Points for Principled Opposition to Authoritarianism

On Twitter, conservative @Evan_McMullin lists ten principles for political opposition under a Trump Administration. Libertarians would do well to embrace, and live each day, all ten. McMullin’s ten tweets began on December 4th at 12:08 PM and concluded at 12:12 PM.

(Points Six and Seven are especially important: it’s a grand coalition that we’ll need, and so we should and must embrace people of all walks of life in our common political endeavor. Libertarians have much to contribute through our resolute defense of free markets, individual liberty, and peace; we will find that we have much to gain in alliances and with the support of others, ideologically different from us, who yet share a commitment to a free society.)

Listed below are all ten of McMullin’s points, useful for reviewing often to assure one stays on the right path.

1. Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.

2. Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.

3. Watch every word, decision and action of Trump and his administration extremely closely, like we have never done before in America.

4. Be very vocal in every forum available to us when we observe Trump’s violations of our rights and our democracy. Write, speak, act.

5. Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform, inspire and unite us.

6. Build bridges with Americans from the other side of the traditional political spectrum and with members of diverse American communities.

7. Defend others who may be threatened by Trump even if they don’t look, think or believe like us. An attack on one is an attack on all.

8. Organize online and in person with other Americans who understand the danger Trump poses and who are also willing to speak up.

9. Hold members of Congress accountable for protecting our rights and democracy through elections and by making public demands of them now.

10. And finally, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have “malice toward none, with charity for all” and never ever lose hope!

The National-Local Mix

localI’ve written at FREE WHITEWATER for over nine years, and I’ll be writing here for far longer to come.  A good friend asked me today if I’d given up on local coverage, and the easy answer is…not at all.  We’ve a small and beautiful city, well worth talking about and contending over.   A few quick remarks for longtime readers, and for some new readers who’ve come to FW since the election —

Plain Views.  I’ve written plainly before, and I’ll do the same now.  My views are libertarian, from a family that was liberty-oriented before the term libertarian became popular. (Dean Russell sometimes gets credit for boosting the word libertarian in 1955, but of course the ideas involved are far older.)  My family came here before the Revolution, and they and many others have held liberty-centric political views throughout their time on this continent, using other descriptions for their politics before libertarian took off in the second half of the twentieth century.

One could say less in the hope of pleasing more, but that’s likely futile.  I would happily decline an invitation to a gathering that favored acceptance over conviction (in the improbable & unwelcome event that anyone would send such an invitation to me).

The Limits of Local.  One of the themes of this site is that towns like ours accomplish the most when they embrace American and not local standards for politics & economics.  In fact, hyper-local standards in politics & economics are lesser standards, easy and comfortable for the myopic but inadequate for a competitive people.  There are a few websites or newspapers nearby that are hyper-local in focus.  That makes sense if one’s writing about a sewing club; it’s both sad and laughable as one’s way of considering political, economic, or fiscal policy.  If hyper-local politics were enough, then one might as well embrace a small village in authoritarian Russia as a small town in democratic America.

Putin’s not detestable because he speaks Russian; he’s detestable because he’s returned oppression to Russia.  The undeniable prettiness of particular Russian villages lessens Putin’s many sins, and Russia’s hardships, not in the slightest.

In same way, Whitewater is not beautiful simply because, so to speak, she’s beautiful; she’s beautiful because America is a free country of which Whitewater is one part.  Hyper-localism at the price of national standards reminds of nothing so much as Socrates’s remarks on the unexamined life.

Whitewater’s Near Term.  I’m an optimist about Whitewater’s longterm, but these next several years will prove difficult for this small, midwestern city.  Whitewater has significant poverty (especially child poverty), and limited growth.  Considering the principal possibilities of a drastic change of course now or a renaissance after continued decline, I’d guess we’ll prove an example of a city that chooses poorly, declines relatively, and rebounds only afterward.   (It needn’t have been this way, but too many mistakes have taken us past the point of a different course.)

Many have enjoyed the James & Deborah Fallows American Futures series on thriving small towns, and it’s disappointing to write that Whitewater’s near future probably will not be like that of those growing towns; there’s much that’s disconcerting about surveying a city – however naturally pretty – that’s a cautionary tale of what not to do.  Disconcerting, but not hard – the hardship of the wrong course will not fall on someone writing about our city, but on the many vulnerable people within it.

The future will write the history of the present; with few exceptions, it will be unkind to the last generation of local policymakers.

Logo.  When I write about local topics, I’ll add the logo that appears in the upper-left corner of this post.

The Mix of National and Local.  Most people in our city, or any other, are naturally sharp.  It’s a libertarian teaching – because it is true and always has been – that the overwhelming number of people are capable and clever (and so need less governmental meddling than they receive).  People who voted for one major party candidate or another are not worse for doing so.  It’s impossible that Americans were fundamentally good until a few weeks ago.

Voting for Clinton or Trump did not make the average person better or worse.  I don’t write this to ingratiate – that wouldn’t be my way, one can guess – but because saying so is consistent with what I have always believed about people.  (In any event, if someone who voted his or her conscience needs reassurance now, he or she should think more carefully.)

Trump is a fundamentally different candidate from those who have come before him.  Not grasping this would be obtuse.  Writing only about sewing circles or local clubs or a single local meeting while ignoring Trump’s vast power as president – and what it will bring about – would be odd.

Someone in Tuscany, circa 1925, had more to write about than the countryside.

One may think otherwise, of course.  It’s simply unrealistic to expect a libertarian to think otherwise (at least if the term is to have any meaning).

I’m not worried about posting both national and local topics, as though some nationally-focused posts will detract from local coverage.  The local die has been cast.  Describing near term local events is now careful narration more than advocacy.  There’s much to say, and in detail, but for local policymakers in this town there’s little room to move.  Perhaps the shifts they can make in the near future will still help those in need.

These will prove, I think, challenging times for those both near and far.

Small Towns in America Can Thrive

I posted recently about James Fallows’s Eleven Signs That a City Will Succeed.

(See, from FW, James Fallows on ‘Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed’ (Part 1) and an assessment of those signs for Whitewater, James Fallows on ‘Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed’ (Part 2).)

In the video below, James & Deborah Fallows talk about how (comparatively) smaller cities in different parts of the country are thriving. It’s a brief video, but from it one might be led to a deeper, if different, assessment of how a community can succeed.

Of this point one may be certain: it never was, and it never will, be true that boosterism brings lasting success to a community. 

I’m not convinced, absent more information, exactly why these towns are succeeding, but I’ve no doubt that America’s future is bright nationally, and can be bright locally, too.

The job market in the United States is constantly shifting—especially in small towns that were once totally reliant on large factories for jobs. While politicians focus on failing industries, things looks different from the local perspective. Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows travelled to Pennsylvania, California, and Kansas to understand what transformations were happening in various industries. “These perceived weaknesses are actually our strength,” says one young resident of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Via The Atlantic.

Immigration in America Is Not Broken

Immigration has proven to be one of the most divisive issues in the 2016 presidential race. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have expressed that the system is broken, but a consensus on any solution seems untenable. In this video, Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and contributing writer Deborah Fallows ventured across the country to bridge the disconnect between national political rhetoric on immigration and the realities in migrant communities. They travelled to three American states—Pennsylvania, California, and Kansas—to understand the economic benefits that immigrants bring to the small towns they most often reside in.

This documentary was produced for American Futures, an ongoing reporting project from James and Deborah Fallows. The couple has spent three years exploring small town America by air, “taking seriously places that don’t usually get registered seriously.”

Via The Atlantic.