Tuesday, September 18, 2018

First Generation Americans and Political Leanings

I have often wondered how first generation immigrants who have lived in other countries process politics in the USA, and how their experiences in other countries affect how they view what happens in the USA?

Do recent immigrants come here super conservative?  Do they see America as the land of opportunity, where anybody who works hard and stays within the rails can make a good life for their children and grandchildren. Do first generation  immigrants favor candidates who talk about law and order, fiscal responsibility, and minimal government interference?  Have they been frustrated by lawless governments which perpetuate corruption, waste money, and get involved in every facet of life?  Do they come to this country viewing government as a tool of the people, which people get to direct for the benefit of themselves and all other citizens?

Or do they come to this country leaning more to the liberal side of political idealogy?  Do they view America as a fair and compassionate nation, where everybody is kind to their neighbors and even the poor have a pretty good standard of living.  Do first generation immigrants favor candidates who talk about support, services, and leveling the playing field?  Have they been frustrated by violent systems which perpetuate civil strife and strive to eliminate upward social mobility?  Do they come to this country thinking that government can be the defender of the people, when it is a fair and just government as they expect to find as they enter the USA?

According to Ilya Somin of the Washington Post (Immigrants' political views are a lot closer to those of natives than you might think; February 27, 2015), the answer is a clear one: first generation immigrants arrive in the USA decidedly leaning to the left.  They may not have as much political influence as second and third generation immigrants, but, as a group, they decidedly vote liberal democrat the majority of the time.

The interesting fact is that the second, third, and subsequent generations vote in a way that reflects the voting trends of the general population at large, of those whose families have grown up here for generations.  Why is this?  Why do recent immigrant families drift to the right within one generation?  What happens in their first 15-20 years of actually living in this country which causes them to shift to the right so quickly and decidedly?

Only one possibility sounds feasible: that the expereince of actually living here, observing and participating in American life, as opposed to anticipating what they think America will be like, causes recent immigrant families to drift to the right politically.

What exactly do they expereince when they arrive here?  Confusion mostly I suspect.  Immigrants come to this country expecting that great ideals such as compassion, freedom, and support are always well implemented, and that leaders who focus on them actually try to build them into social systems within a broader context of working hard and staying focused.  It would never occur to a recent immigrant that they could come to this country and be given whatever they want.  And yet that is exactly what they experience from the left.

Those who claim to want to be compassionate and supportive and inclusive actually just want to give stuff to everyone: health care, cell phones, college tuition.  And those who focus on lawful behavior, economic opportunity, and the American dream actually want to help these recent immigrants achieve a better life for their children and grand children.  So how do these recent immigrants respond to this observation?  They drift to the right.  They come to realize, like the rest of Americans who view citizenship as a privilege, that giving people stuff does not make life better for their families for generations to come.  That only comes from giving them an opportunity to work hard to achieve the dreams that drove them to come here in the first place.  So first generation immigrants do what you would expect them to do: they work hard for the benefit of future generations.  They are grateful for the freedom and opportunities they find here, and they pray that the land which provides these opportunities is preserved for the following generations to enjoy.   May we all realize what a blessing it is to live in the home of the American dream, the land of opportunity, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trees and Chaff

Psalm 1.1-4   "How blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers."

These are classic verses.  Most Christians have read them many times.  Many have studied them and been inspired to spend time meditating on the word.  Some have even memorized part or all of Psalm1 so as to have them always available for edification and encouragement.  I have read them more times than I can count.  When I was younger, I was motivated to do things which would serve to "plant me by streams of water".  I asked God to lead me into a lifestyle that would avail me to regular access to the river, so that when I got older, I would be like that tree planted by the stream.

Within these verses are many ideas, and many layers of ideas, to help believers develop God's perspective on faith and His word, and the fruit of consuming His word.  This chapter brings up images of nourishment and feeding on God's word.  Images of abundance and strength.  Later in the chapter, it goes on to speak of outcomes and consequences.  The righteous will be like a tree planted by a stream, and will prosper in all that they do.  The wicked will be driven away by the wind, like chaff.  They will not stand, but will perish.  Amidst the great and inspiring imagery, one notion often gets overlooked: specifically how chaff is not like trees.  How exactly is chaff different than trees?

Trees stay put, usually no matter what is happening around them.  Chaff blows around easily, never staying anywhere very long but always going wherever the wind blows it.

Trees have as much hidden below the ground as they have visible above the ground.  No one can see the roots. But they are still a crucial part of any tree.  Chaff has no roots below ground.  Everything is visible.  What you see is what you get.

Trees are weighty and powerful and growing.  Chaff is light and impotent and always being dispersed.

Trees have a lot of inherant value as they are able to provide for a lot of needs and address a lot of functions.  Chaff is useless.  It soils anything it touches, and risks disabling it.

Trees are enduring.  They can last for decades, or even centuries.  Chaff is fleeting.  It gathers together, and, just like that, it is gone.

I don't know about you.  But I think that if I had a choice between being powerful and enduring and useful, or being pointless and fleeting and harmful, I would choose the former.   No question.  We cannot always choose how we respond in the heat of the moment.  But we can always choose how we invest ourselves, our time, our energy and our resources.

Psalm 1 does not say to avoid the wicked.  But it does say to avoid the counsel of the wicked, along with the way of sinners and the seat of scoffers.  If we develop a lifestyle of avoiding these things, and delighting in the law of the Lord, we can become like that tree, being constantly nourished.  We can become planted and enduring rather than fleeting and like a vapor.

I pray that each of us will continue to develop a lifestyle of delighting in and meditating on God's word.

Historical Tolerance and the New Left

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, I spent half my life in the northeast and half my life in the south.  While there were many differe...