Progressives don't just choose not to own this positive story, they spit on it.

Republicans embrace it.

Want proof?

When Jamaican-born Winsome Sears Became the first female LT Gov in Virginia, Republicans cheered wildly. Fox News played her victory speech on a loop as she talked about her father coming here with nothing but a desire to work.

As a Republican, grandchild of poor immigrants, it put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eyes. We all fell in love with Winsome despite not knowing her the day before.

How did progressives respond?

"Black White Supremacist win race because Republicans don't want to teach history of slavery in schools. "

Someone made a montage of progressives calling Winsome Sear a white supremacist - it went on and on and on.

Democrats spat on the immigrant made good. It was disgusting.

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As a Democrat-adjacent, Winsome Sears is an unknown name buried under the story of GOP VA victory. Only Glenn Youngkin’s name is widely recognized. Now I have searched around a bit, CNN’s article briefly congratulated the break through. The charge of “white supremacist” is definitely overboard given her career, and the only reason I haven’t pushed back against that is because I did not come into contact with that. In fact, with my media diet I doubt anything of that fringe quality would pass my timeline. I had to specifically Google her name with “white supremacist” together to find a Google page of right wing media citing left wing stuff against her, none of which cited has come into my view.

I honestly feel happy about Sears making history. That this story was buried is a pity and shows that I need to improve my media diet. Of the usual media I frequent, TPM and Mother Jones have no articles on her, and fivethirtyeight has only one analyzing VA voters in relation to her election and in response to WSJ comments.

I also hope the right wing media people doing the disgusting story is okay. Like Facebook content auditors, viewing shocking and disgusting contents is bad for one’s mental health. They need to be properly covered and compensated.

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It was interesting that on election night, Fox showed Winsome Sears speech live, and clips of it over the next few days, while CNN and MSNBC didn't show her speech live.

Here is an exact quote from MSNBC's Joy Reid show by Eric Dyson.

I find it to be disgusting slur of an immigrant. You might find it fair minded. We can differ.

"The problem is here they want White supremacy by ventriloquist effect. There is a Black mouth moving but a White idea … running on the runway of the tongue of a figure who justifies and legitimates the White supremacist practices. We know that we can internalize in our own minds, in our own subconscious, in our own bodies the very principles that are undoing us. So to have a Black face speaking in behalf of a White supremacist legacy is nothing new." - Eric Dyson

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so i guess i can tell this story. a good friend of mine who is a successfully accomplished scientist with a tenured professorship left his position at a top R1 university on the west coast a few years ago. there were various reasons, but one thing he found personally grating was the tokenism and assumption by his fellow faculty members that he was was the son of hardscrabble economic refugees. at one point a colleague praised the fact that his kids were in a fancy private school and said something that implied the school's openness to diversity must have been a factor.

the issue with that assumption is that my friend has a much better pub record than the colleague, was making 500K a year through salary+consulting, and comes from a very affluent and upper-middle-class family of physicians. he eventually left the elite world of academic science for the private sector because the story academics tell about latinos like him is so monotone and he felt ridiculous wondering always to correct their obvious misimpressions that his doctor father must have come to this country as a farm laborer or dishwasher...

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Dec 10, 2021Liked by Noah Smith

Growing up I knew very few white people, and there seemed little functional difference between 'white' and 'hispanic' in any case. While the distinction grew more salient the older I became, and the farther I strayed from the border, it never became anywhere near as stark as 'hispanic from this side of the border' and 'hispanic from that' (a difference ameliorated by wealth, as it happens). The important factor was broadly socioeconomic, not racial, and Ms Martinez had more in common, very generally speaking, with Ms O'Connor, than either did with Ms Hernandez, the maid who crossed the border daily to clean both their homes.

So when people like Trump talk about immigrants stealing "our" jobs, the Ms Martinez's of the world (or my small part of it, at least) tended to identify as one amongst the "our", and not of the immigrants. And, more, to be quite protective of the advancements they (or their parents, or their grandparents) had made, such that it's not exactly a surprise that protectionist policies might garner some serious support.

I think the Democrats need to learn to speak that language, and address those concerns. But I don't want them to think that this means wooing Hispanics must mean being anti-choice or anti-LGBT, for example. In my experience the cultural conservatism of Hispanics is more broad than deep.

As I say: it's socioeconomic. And when someone is proud of their family's achievements, probably it's best to not overcorrect: a chancla does not a wingnut make. It's also best not to ignore them, essentially saying "nevermind what you're telling me your concerns are for yourself, let me tell you about my concerns, for you".

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Many leftists don’t understand nuance on those issues. Saying abortion should be safe, rare and legal is perfectly reasonable. The voters in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina thought so in 2008 when they all voted for Obama (Obama Hyde amendment anyone?). Supporting LBGT people by protecting their housing, insurance, and employment rights is reasonable, while also acknowledging clear biological distinctions between sex and how that might affect activities like sports. What democrats need to do to appeal to Latinos and working class whites is cultural moderation, not conservatism. They need to remove themselves from activist, academia and media class that are out of touch with people.

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No mainstream voice is denying the biological differences between developments brought by different sexual elements. All mainstream sports have put limiting rules on those sexual elements and have been running regularly without problems… until someone ignorant to both sports and human physiology decides to make a headline about it. Let’s be clear who is the activist here: not the athletes who are just going about normal training and competitions, but the media trying to incite emotions against that normalcy.

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Great points Noah! I loved that last bit about the difference in messaging from the Republicans and the Democrats towards the Hispanic community. But as to your prediction that the GOP right now will walk away from racist anti-Hispanic messaging..... ermmm I have second thoughts. If I recall rightly, the GOP was trying to do exactly that (via Marco Rubio) until Trump showed up and everything went awry.

On the other hand, keep up the good work! Maybe it's just my perception, but I feel you've been getting a lot better at this stuff recently.

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Marco Rubio is evidence for, not against, Noah's prediction. In other words it was already happening. Trump himself dialed it back in 2020 and was rewarded with a 16 point vote shift. Other prominent, leading Rs - Cruz, Rubio and especially DeSantis - come from states with 30-40% and growing Hispanic voter share (or are Hispanic themselves). Those guys aren't stupid enough to flirt with anti-Hispanic messaging.

The rising share of Hispanics in so many states makes Trump's 2016 move a harder trick to pull off. Meanwhile the evident swinginess of the Latino vote makes the more direct move of appealing to Hispanic voters more attractive.

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Oh, I didn't know that. Thanks for the clarification!

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Trump said a lot less of that stuff in 2020 and got a big bump from the Hispanic vote.

"GOP will be racist forever, therefore we can do whatever we want" is popular among activists, because it means they never have to moderate their language. But that doesn't make it true.

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I'd been feeling something was off in the contemporary Progressive story about immigration, but I didn't have words for it. Your post was really clarifying in that regards. It's also my family's story (and the one of so many of my family friends, neighbors, colleagues, and classmates), so it also feels right to me intuitively.

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Shush! If Hispanics continue to shift towards the republican party, making DC and Puerto Rico into states might become feasible!

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Tax cuts are on the Right are what immigration is on the Left: an evergreen policy no matter the season. For the past generation (if not two), immigration has been a major concern throughout most of the West. Smouldering resentment on this issue has been fuelling a swing towards the extreme Right, and I have to shake my head when people think that a reframing is all we need to change hearts and minds. The fact that even a slightly more accommodating GOP would tip the balance of power decisively in its favour should scare the hell out of Dems. But of course it won't. Nothing will. Ever. Because pumping the brakes on immigration is never on the cards, even when the country's fate hangs in the balance. Because immigration is a nostrum on the Left, its evergreen solution.

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1) As you said, the immigration panic is a feature of the extreme right. Nobody thst the Dems could seriously hope to recruit is obsessed with building the wall or the great replacement or whatever. The Dems cutting back on immigration would be a bit like a Republican campaigning on a wealth tax: the quickest way to disgust your own base, alienate a lot of moderates, all to appease to people who would not vote for you to save their lives

2) People always prefer the original to the copy

3) If you have principles only until it is convenient, you don't have any principles at all. As you said, the idea that we are a nation of immigrants, that diversity is our strength, and that anybody has the right to try to make the best of their life here is what makes the left left, at least in the US.

It is so surprising to you thst the left would lose an election rather than making something it does not recognize as itself winning?

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Great points, but I think everyone's framing this wrong. Nobody should be looking at the Hispanic vote as gettable. It's too diverse. A Mexican from LA and a Cuban from Miami lumped in the same category? You wouldn't draw up a strategy to capture the "White vote". A strategy for the "Hispanic vote" is even more useless.

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It's not about getting 90% of Hispanics.

If Republicans can get another 15 percentage points of Hispanics, from whatever subgroups of Hispanics you want, that's enough for them to have permanent majorities.

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I disagree, the categories aren’t the issue. By all accounts Italians from Jersey, Scandinavian from Minnesota and Scottish Appalachians are all distinct culturally, but are still non Hispanic “white” voters.

Both Mexicans and Cubans swung towards Republicans at high rates. Border town Tejanos specifically are interesting, because they largely have voted Democrat for so long. Having specific plans to address these swings as well as Puerto Ricans in oceala is a start. Pretending it’s useless isn’t productive.

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Maybe I didn't do a great job of explaining myself, but it sounds like we agree?

"Having specific plans to address these swings as well as Puerto Ricans in oceala is a start."

Right, this is what I'm saying. The PR, Tejano, and Cuban votes are all gettable provided each one has a specific plan (i.e. not-a-one-size-fits-all-Hispanics-plan).

My point was that to phrase the Hispanic vote as "gettable" implies that all Hispanics have the same values, or that "if we do X then we can shift all Hispanics".

As a member of a subset of the group in question, I can assure everyone here that that's not true.

Hispanics shouldn't be looked at as 1 block of voters to obtain, but rather a bunch of smaller (different) blocks with *some* similarities.

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Full Disclosure: First generation immigrant, made good as is only possible in the US, now "retired". Can't stand authoritarian tendencies that is endemic in most institutions. Socially liberal and dislike the label of socialism since in practice it's not Denmark but Venezuela and Cuba that one thinks of when someone says Socialism. Have voted Democratic all across as the lesser of two evils

Yup, the progressive wing of the democratic part (and I tend to be socially progressive) is spectacular in its tone deafness. Matthew Yglesias has a great article on the Latinx brou-hah-hah.

I'd go so far as to suggest that this very left of center set of narratives are the latest form of cultural imperialism

There is a positive side to all this stupidity on the part of "The public face" of the left is the the GOP is likely to win in 2022 "bigly" and as long as the GOP is not stupid enough to get behind the loser Trump they will likely win 2024 bigly too without resorting to Jan 6th 2020 style quasi-coups.

For the sake of the country, I hope the GOP picks a Glenn Youngkin type candidate in 2024.

Once the GOP realizes they can win "fair and square", I am hopeful that the authoritarian tendencies of the right, born from desperation, will subside

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Semi-off-topic, but the data on rates of things by ethnicity has very very wide error bars, especially wrt Hispanics. I totally agree with the main idea of the post, but want to make readers aware that these stats need to be taken with more than the usual grain of salt.

There's numerator problems, denominator problems, and most importantly problems of matching the two.

First, the denominator of how many Hispanics live in an area comes from the Census or the ACS 5 year survey estimates. The census itself is partly a guesstimate, and you can see that heavily Hispanic areas tend to have low response rates, meaning the guesstimating is harder to do: https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2020-census-self-response-rates-map.html.

I imagine that both legal and illegal immigration make all of this counting and record keeping harder, as there's a constant change in the denominator. The change is a bigger problem for Hispanics (and Asians) than other groups.

For Hispanics you can also add the problem of a sometimes fluid ethnicity. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, around a million Americans switched their self-id from Hispanic to non-Hispanic or the other way around: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/05/millions-of-americans-changed-their-racial-or-ethnic-identity-from-one-census-to-the-next/

Then there's the numerators. The agencies responsible for collecting ethnicity for incarceration, or education or polling are under no obligation to match the census reported ethnicities. An example you can see for yourself is go to https://homicide.latimes.com/ and search for White victims over the last 20 years. A percentage (maybe 10%) will have obviously very Hispanic names but recorded as White. This year the list of non-Hispanic white victims includes Angelina Maria Lujan and Miguel Oritz. Self-Id is the ultimate authority on whether you are hispanic or not, so there's some dark humor here in 2nd guessing the authorities here, but I suspect those two people regarded themselves as Hispanic at least at some point in their lives.

Combine those and you have the issue of matching numerator and denominators which are collected in different ways by different agencies at different time. Or you have agencies trying to do their own matching, and often getting stumbled by Latino naming conventions which sometimes include the mother's maiden name and sometimes do not.

A great example of the matching problem is very evident in the CDCs official "underlying cause of mortality" database (search for CDC's Wonder DB). If you break cause of death down by Hispanic and Race you get 8 categories: Black,White/Asian/Native x Hispanic/Non-Hispanic. There are wildly improbably numbers in some of them. The Native American category, for example, has close to the worst infant mortality statistics in the country, but the Native American and Hispanic category has the lowest infant mortality, not just in the United States, but in the entire world! I don't exactly know what's going on there, but I think it's an issue with matching combined with all the other problems above.

Another interesting place this manifests is the "Hispanic Paradox" wherein the Hispanic population has a longer life expectancy (by about 3 years) than does the White population. This is called a paradox because Hispanics are on average a lower SES group than whites in this country. In my view, the much higher rate of Covid morbidity among hispanics relative to whites contributes to the paradox - how can life expectancy be longer, implying good health, but covid be rates be worse, implying co-morbidities and bad health?

Obviously there are explanations besides data problems that square the circle of the Hispanic Paradox. They're interesting and worth reading and thinking about. But I don't find any of them so believable that they outweigh obvious data problems. For life expectancy the CDC-reported numbers put American Latinos as not just higher than White Americans, but higher than all of Latin America and almost all of the world. Similarly Asians, another population with data matching and immigration data problems, has a reported life expectancy of 86 which is far higher than any country in the entire world.

Sorry for writing a rambling book here and I don't think it changes the basic political argument. But we should probably be cautious when comparing Hispanic outcomes to other ethnic groups.

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Yet another PMC attempt to spin.

The reality is that unrestricted immigration hurts the working class and benefits the PMCs. Cheap nannies are fine for them, but lower wages for the 99% are not fine for American society.

Nor is this a recent understanding.

Labor activitists - black, brown, whatever - also noted this in the past 100 years.

If the Democrats want to not lose the working classes, they need stop pandering to PMCs and start paying attention to what benefits the working class.

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"Progressives need to tell this story

Some progressives are certainly still telling this story — especially elected politicians like Biden. But in the age of social media and cable news, progressivism is defined as much by news hosts and NYT writers and university administrators as by senators and governors. We need the thought leaders of this broad progressive movement to turn away from the dark, negativistic story of immigration-as-tragedy, and back to the positive, optimistic traditional story of immigration-as-triumph."

Let us assume that what you have written is true, and that this is the best story to tell to achieve Democratic electoral success. How do you propose to have it happen?

The basic problem is that there are progressives (and indeed leftists) who disagree with you, and who have no particular love for the Democratic Party. And you will not be able to convince these people to change their positions, because they don't agree with you, nor with your goals.

Given "the age of social media and cable news", one of these people - whether they are a blogger or some college student with some loud complaint - will be turned into this week's voice of progressives. And this even though, as you correctly point out, the Democratic Party and its leaders have nothing to do with that person. Given that there will always be someone doing something that can stoke the right-wing outrage machine, what do you suggest to solve this problem?

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If it was only about stray bloggers it wouldn't be a problem. Or we could say the GOP has a the same problem when an actual KKK member says he likes Trump, or the Proud Boys get into yet another fracas or criminal indictment. These things are picked up, and to some extent exaggerated in terms of how they represent the average GOP voter.

The problem is deeper. It's not that Biden says the good things, and a couple stray twitter feeds say the bad things. The problem is Biden and most Reps say the good things, but the mouthpieces of the entire progressive organizing class say the bad things as often as not. Progressive think-tanks, activists, much of Academia and journalists are all kind of speaking with the same voice, and largely speaking to each other and past the rank and file.

I have no idea how to fix the problem. My guess is it will take a landslide loss in 2028. Or maybe further swings in Hispanic and immigrant votes that take the righteous energy steam out of the sails of the partisan-nature of social justice ideas.

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Biden will say "the jury system works" at an interview, and then his own White House will put out a press release saying it doesn't.

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Maybe I am mistaken (I don't follow things in the USA as much as others), but this seems wildly mistaken. I know a fair number of academics (and some journalists) and the idea that "Academia and journalists are all kind of speaking with the same voice" strikes me as plainly false.

I suggest the problem is quite different. Many on the right - including many elected Republican representatives! - regularly say insane things, and this seems to make no difference to public's view of the Republican party. Yet some college student in Ohio makes some silly statement and it is headline news for a week, because "the Democrats" are behind it all.

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For the right the irrationality of media is at the same time a feature and an advantage. They can exaggerate a fringe position on the left much more easily than the left can do the same. The irrationality comes from following the human intuition to the extreme, regardless of reflective thoughts and empirical evidences. What Noah is suggesting is to follow the human intuition in order to gain support, when they line up with empirical evidences. What the post doesn’t address though is how uniform he estimates this strategy requires the left to be given the media landscape, because this strategy calls for abandoning or suppressing other positions with less but significant empirical evidences.

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Well ultimately this is a question of perspective and it's very hard to quantify. My blindspot is I don't listen to any conservative media, aside from rare occasions when I directly tune in to a GOP candidate or politician. So usually I'm getting the GOP filtered through the left.

In any case, "speaking with the same voice" was probably a poor choice of words. It applies better to activists, donors and political staff and campaign volunteers, who really do come from a fairly tight network of overlapping members.

A better way to the professions of journalism, outside of explicitly right-wing media, and academia is that Dem party support is at landslide levels in the above. So there's a somewhat narrow range of acceptable thought allowed when it comes to topics that have a partisan valiance, and a manner of communicating that arises from operating inside a bubble that can sound very strange to outsiders.

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This still seems to me to be wildly mistaken.

Even within the Democratic Party there is a wide range of thinking about most issues, and among Democratic-leaning academics and journalists the range is even wider.

Of course, if the issue is "the human rights of minorities don't matter", "attempts to nullify democratic elections are good", or even "evidence doesn't matter", then there will be a fairly narrow range of thinking. But that such things are seen as "partisan variance" is perhaps the problem here.

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You seem to be talking way past me without making any attempt to see where I'm coming from. The latter paragraph is a series of straw-man arguments that might not even be as clear cut as you think. The Democrats also have a few sacred cows that have little to do with evidence.

Whether the range of thinking is wide or not is difficult to quantify. Ultimately it's a subjective question of perspective and I think it's good to consider as many perspectives as possible. But to my mind, the range of acceptable thought has narrowed considerably among the people who represent the Democrats in the national consciousness.

Here's a couple posts from Matt Yglesias, of whom Noah is something of a protege, that get at that perspective:



David Shor also has a lot of material and evidence on how the Donor Class (read: the most committed and influential and motivated Left) and professional Democrats are well to the left of the median D voter, to say nothing of the median voter.



This is all getting at the same idea - the people speaking for the Democrats in the national media are coming from a smaller slice of the public that's become more used to talking to itself than to people outside the bubble.

You can certainly disagree. But it's not a particular original idea I came up with or read on Fox News. There are plenty of other people diagnosing the Ds problems in this same way and providing evidence and argument for it. Feel free to disagree but read up on the arguments first before entering the debate

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> The basic problem is that there are progressives (and indeed leftists) who disagree with you, and who have no particular love for the Democratic Party

Then burn them. Biden needs a few good Sister Souljah moments and it sounds like they are ready to deliver.

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... and the church said Amen.

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I've been puzzled for years by Republican hostility towards Hispanic immigrants. As you noted, they work hard and consequently experience rising income. The other element, which you omit, is Hispanics tend to be sincerely religious. This would ordinarily incline the population towards the less overtly secular Republicans.

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Puzzled? I’m sure race has something to do with it. It tends to be the determining factor for any left or right wing nut.

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I think many Americans are hostile towards illegal immigration for a variety of reasons. Some legitimate and others exaggerated. Hispanics are hostile towards it too. I think conflating illegal immigrants to Hispanic is kind of where Democrats continue to go wrong. Cubans are refugees from decades ago. Tejanos have been in the southwest since before it belonged to America and Puerto Ricans are not immigrants at all. A large percentage of Chicanos have never been or are far removed from illegal immigration.

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Which Republican politicians are seen as hostile towards legal hispanic immigration? The original comment mentioned Hispanic immigration. My position is democrats conflate the two. They assume tejanos/chicanos, cubans and Puerto Ricans are somehow empathetic and supportive of Guatemalan and Hondurans crossing the border, which is not rooted in reality.

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It mentioned Hispanic (people from spanish speaking countries). Which R politicians were anti legal Hispanic immigration? Not many. Democrats who continue to ignore Guatemalans and Hondurans trying to game the asylum system shouldn’t be shocked when PR/Cubans/Mexicans don’t support them. You can dance around the issue if you want, but it’s obvious that democrats are weak on the border.

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"Republicans hate immigration because racism" is a good talking point for radicalizing voters, but you've gotta distinguish a talking point from a truth.

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There is a pretty blatant issue of race, but that has been dissected at nauseam.

A less blatant issue is how immigrants became collateral damage of conservatives culture war activities, particularly the reinforcement of rural strongholds. Think about it: there are not many immigrants in Nebraska. For a lot of reasons, people tend to migrate to urban areas, often the biggest urban areas. Given that the GOP chose to pursue the road of grievance politics for rural Americans, thst already puts immigrants on the line: they are not in what the Republican narrative considers to be "real America", they are living in enemy territory, thus they are expendable. Also, since the GOP became a rural party, its average voters knows very few immigrants personally, so they are easy to dehumanize.

Also, admitting that the average Hispanic family who moves to (let's say) LA can work their way up and do business, all whilst going to church every Sunday, would mean admitting that Cali is still a place thst rewards people who word hard and do business, and in which you can easily fit in even it you go to church every Sunday. Which is very inconvenient for populist conservatives, who have spent a lot of effort to convince rural Americans thst Cali is a godless People's Republic where gender fluid professors and actors eat entrepreneurs' corpses at taxpayers' expense. So, rather than admitting they were wrong, they will just depict immigrants as thugs and welfare leeches, because their narrative can't admit that there is much else in urban America.

From the point of view of conservatives, Hispanic immigrants are not even the target. But if they have to nuke them to inflict even minimal damage to the hated "liberal elites", they won't think twice about it

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The issue is a more open embrace of immigrants may come at expense of a lot of poorer rural white voters who seem themselves as in competition with immigrants. Before Trump GOP leadership was still mostly following Reagan strategy of supporting immigration but it was a difficult dance. But also historically recent immigrants have been among the stronger opponents of further immigration, since often they are in most direct economic competition with them.

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Good piece. Something you don’t explicitly mention is how the nativist and radical progressive narratives feed off each other at the expense of the liberal one. Nativists say immigrants are coming to steal our land and jobs and culture and while traditional liberals say “No they’re coming to make their own way and contribute to society” progressive activists are basically agreeing with the nativist premise: “Damn straight we are, gringo!” Only the liberal narrative actually contradicts the Great Replacement myth; the progressive narrative just confirms it in spades.

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Other negative far-left memes about immigration that I've heard:

- Immigrants are colonizers

- Immigrants get ahead by stepping on Black Americans (see, for example, the ADOS movement's rhetoric about immigrants, including Black immigrants)

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Those are not left wing memes, they are just very sophisticated shitposts from the right.

If there is a thing the right is very good at doing, it is giving a disguise of leftist language to their ideas. Sometimes for pure amusement ("beat them at their own game"), but sometimes they truly believe it, for example when women's sport switched from a government-mandated absurd attempt at equality to something sacred and threatened by evil trans people.

I think there is not a single leftist who sees immigrants as colonizers, it is the purest frog Twitter gotcha you could find.

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