By Contributor on April 16, 2014

By José Miguel Leyva

Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party.

At an event at the George H. W. Bush presidential library, the former Florida governor showed sympathy for people who come to the United States illegally.

They come here, he said, because mothers and fathers are “worried that their children didn’t have food on the table.” He added: “They crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”

And he warned: “It shouldn’t rile people up.”

But many people in the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party are riled up about immigration, and Republican legislatures in several states have passed harsh anti-immigration laws.

Jeb Bush’s outspokenness, and his increasingly obvious interest in running for the presidency, represents an effort to move the Republican Party back toward the middle.

That’s not altogether a bad thing for the nation.

The far right, which has been such a vocal part of the party in recent years, has pulled many moderates, even Democratic ones, deep into conservative territory.

But Bush should not be mistaken for a progressive, by any means, even on issues relating to minorities and other people facing discrimination.

As governor of Florida, he dismantled affirmative action, he displayed a disdain for the victims of homophobia and he expressed a distaste for modern feminism.

He also is about as pro-corporate as you can get. For instance, he’s a huge proponent of privatizing our public schools.

At the moment, he is tacking in a moderate direction.

And his marriage to a Mexican national does give him a real perspective on immigration.

But he might be forced to prove his conservatism to win over the party base eventually, and that would include pushing back against comprehensive immigration reform, which a majority of Latinos favor.

Bush has said he would run a campaign that was “hopeful” and “optimistic.” The Republican base seems more prepared to embrace hate and fear, and all of Bush’s platitudes aren’t likely to change that.

The best we can hope for from Bush, then, is the conservatism of the old status quo.


Op-ed by José Miguel Leyva, a freelance writer and journalist living in El Paso, TX. Op-eds like these are part of The Progressive Inc.'s "Progressive Media Project."

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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