AMERICAN PUTIN

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Trump is proving that the rise of the one-issue voter makes the messenger irrelevant.

Ruthless megalomaniac. Delusional narcissist. Thuggish, dishonest, crude, crass, and arrogant beyond belief. All of these have been used to describe Vladimir Putin … and Donald John Trump, Sr.

Not so long ago, a man with Donald Trump’s personality, not to mention his history of shady partners and shadier deals, would never have considered making a run for the White House. But Trump is not only running, he’s winning. He is at the top of some polls, slightly behind the powerful Jeb Bush machine in others, but irrefutably one of the top prospects for the Republican nomination.

How could a man more like Vladimir Putin than Abraham Lincoln be a serious candidate for President of the United States?

One word: immigration. As foul and disagreeable as he is, Donald Trump is saying something that an enormous number of Americans want to hear: get tough on immigration. And that one message appears to be so important that even a troll like Trump can gain tremendous ground by exploiting it.

Can any serious person dispute the levels of corruption in Mexico? I don’t blame anyone for wanting to leave. The tragedy is that our current policies are a disservice to both immigrants and native-born Americans. First, let’s look at the “typical” immigrant from Mexico – hard-working and eager to succeed, but, with the lowest high school graduation rate of any group of immigrants, facing an enormous disadvantage in our system, where education is so important. What happens to people in a competitive system when they are at an enormous disadvantage? Most of them lose. They become casualties of the system, regardless of their color or language. It’s not about race; it’s about statistics. A small percentage of talented individuals will beat the odds, but the majority cannot overcome the double burden of a deficit in both language and education.

There is a higher percentage of immigrant men aged 18-65 in the labor force than there are men born in the United States, so a willingness to work is not the issue. But the percentage of immigrants on welfare after 20 years in the U.S. is higher than those who have been here five years or fewer. Why do the lives of so many immigrants get worse over time?

Is more polarization the answer? Should both sides dig in, with immigrants refusing to assimilate in any way as a point of national pride and loyalty to their homeland while native-born Americans replace the welcoming Statue of Liberty with a giant fence?

On the one side, we have people who want a better life in a better place, and who are willing to work hard to make that dream come true. On the other, you have people who understand that the U.S. won’t be a better place for anyone if we blindly open our borders. Changing people from hard workers into uninsured, welfare-dependent tragedies makes the American Dream a nightmare for everyone.

Maybe that’s why a jackass like Trump isn’t being laughed out of the race. Like Abortion or Gun Control – those “capital letter” subjects that tend to polarize Americans – the subject of Immigration has reached a point where people don’t care who the messenger is. They simply want people on both sides to forget political correctness and take an honest, hard look at how to solve a very tough problem.

In an age where one misstep on Twitter can destroy anyone, the other candidates have advisors armed with demographic analyses and polls that tell them to never offend this group or that demographic. Trump is – let’s be honest – too arrogant to care about what any advisor says. He is touching on one of the biggest fears of what he calls the “silent majority” and counting on their anger to propel him to Commander in Chief.

Up to this point, Trump has been nothing more than a buffoon, a very wealthy buffoon and a Reality TV star, but still … just a buffoon. Becoming President of the United States would give him the power to do serious damage on a widespread scale.

He would become the American Putin.