'Suffering human beings': Former Nancy Reagan speechwriter rips 'jerk' Ron DeSantis for migrants stunt
When far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent two planes of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, he didn’t notify Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a fellow Republican, in advance — although he did make sure Fox News knew that the migrants, many of whom were from Venezuela, would be coming. DeSantis’ political stunt has not only been drawing vehement condemnation from Democrats, but also, from Never Trump conservatives. One of them is veteran opinion columnist/author Mona Charen, who worked in the Reagan White House during the 1980s and was a speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan.
In a scathing article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on September 21, Charen argues that the United States has a dysfunctional immigration system that is badly in need of reforms and that DeSantis’ theatrics do nothing to improve it.
“DeSantis didn’t see suffering human beings,” Charen writes. “He saw props. He saw Fox News coverage. Fox, unlike the governor of Massachusetts, was tipped off in advance. And (DeSantis) saw the chance to show the GOP base what a jerk he could be.”
It isn’t hard to figure out why DeSantis chose Martha’s Vineyard. Although Massachusetts has a popular Republican governor, it is a heavily Democratic state that President Joe Biden won by 33 percent in 2020. And picking Martha’s Vineyard, critics say, was a way for DeSantis to “own the liberals.”
Charen notes that “most of the 50 immigrants” who DeSantis “dropped on Martha’s Vineyard” were “Venezuelans who had made an arduous 2000-mile journey” in order to escape the dire economic conditions in that South America country.
“Not so very long ago, in the 1980s,” Charen explains, “Venezuela was the wealthiest country in Latin America…. Sitting on about 18 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, Venezuelans enjoyed higher living standards than their neighbors, and seemed to have a stable democracy. Looks were deceiving. When the price of oil plummeted in the 1990s, the country was plunged into instability. In 1999, they elected a charismatic military officer, Hugo Chavez, who promised to redistribute the nation’s wealth and proceeded to befriend Fidel Castro and destroy the nation’s economy. He nationalized companies and farms, crushed labor unions, put opponents in prison, and seized the assets of foreign oil contractors.”
Charen continues, “To tame rampant inflation, he imposed price controls, which only fueled a black market and drove the middle class from the country. Chavez succumbed to cancer in 2013, but by then, Venezuela was a basket case. Today, one in three Venezuelans doesn’t get enough to eat, malnutrition among poor children is rife, and more than 75 percent of Venezuelans live in extreme poverty. It is the most abrupt collapse of a thriving nation not at war on record and a cautionary tale about what can happen when people make bad political choices.”
Charen describes “the Venezuelans that DeSantis treated so shabbily” as “desperate people hoping for a better life.”
“In truth, the vast majority of would-be immigrants have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Charen observes. “It is our own laws that are the problem. Because our political system is so steeped in bile and demagoguery, we can’t adapt to changing circumstances. We desperately need workers, yet the wait for legal immigration options is years long. People ask, ‘Why can’t illegal immigrants wait in line?’ But there is no line…. We are fortunate that so many hard-working people want to come here. If we had our act together, we would reform our laws to take many more legal immigrants.”
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