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 America’s Conservatism and Its Effects on Immigrants

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    The paper critically analyzes the relevance of Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, a literary work which envisions the fall of America following an economic apocalypse, to the situation of the present U.S. society. The author sets the background in a dystopian society. America becomes a country where material worth and youthfulness are what matters most; where the country literally survives on loans; where “racism” holds sway through stringent immigration laws, and where the values tied to having real “human connections” are long gone. While he intends the literature to be a satire of what may become of America in the near future, some of the projections he makes are manifested in our present day. Shteyngart takes us on an excursus into his private life. He spins around his “little love affair” a story that reveals what goes on in the lives of immigrant Americans, a theme that constantly emerges as the crux of the writer’s message. The paper discusses how US immigration and foreign policies are causing the country a rapid plunge from its height while the government only pays lip service to being the most powerful country in the world. We shall explore the effects of America’s international trade policy and diplomacy on the economy, and if Shteyngart’s work was a futuristic book that should be held in authority in this regard. Other credible sources from contemporary times are also used in the breakdown, to either support or refute the claims made in this research.

    The United States is the most powerful country in the world and they should lead by example. They should exemplify leadership with politics, industry, commerce, and diplomacy. So, why is there strife in the political landscape? Why does the greater part of America-owned companies run mainstream production overseas? Why does the U.S. debt to other nations run into trillions of dollars? Why does the US encourage “right-wing autocracies” around the world? Shteyngart may not give us direct answers to these queries, but he is able to demonstrate that America’s “conservatism” may be a surefire way to our doom. One could describe conservatism as a social and political pattern that promotes hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story is not only a prose that seeks to blend how social class interplays with sheer hedonism in a dysfunctional state, but also a satirical work with projections that seem apt with most of America’s current socioeconomic problems.

    The U.S. foreign policy encourages overseas production in order to mitigate labor costs. iPhones, Samsungs and many apparels carrying American brands are produced in China. A section of the policy also seeks to justify controversial immigration orders that tend to be overly conservative. Trump’s border security proposals and the clamp-down on “illegal immigrants” are examples that can be cited automatically. There is wealth inequality and social strife. America’s 1 percent holds about 40 percent of the country’s total wealth, and class struggle is real. Meanwhile, trade partners often threaten to sever ties. The trade war with China is a lingering phenomenon. Early in the book, Shteyngart indirectly criticizes America’s conservatism by clearly disapproving of the stigmatization of poor immigrants, emphasizing his not being a racist in a remark where he encourages a friend to patronize a Nigerian drycleaner. He “stressed the word Nigerian to underline his open-mindedness” (Shteyngart, 14). In his diaries, Shteyngart lives in a society where you can be flagged for sedition for having an intimate or formal relationship with an African or non-American. It is tempting to make bold assertions in total support of Shteyngart’s “prophecies” as his satirical viewpoint may to a significant level be an over-complication of things. But let us assume that these policies are put in place for reasons of national security and sustainability, and cannot be an all-con-no-pro affair.

    In Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Conservatism gives little or no chance for the progress of “alien people.” He writes that the U.S. is now run by a Bipartisan sect called American Restoration Authority (ARA). The society has only two classes of people, the High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and the Low Net Worth Individuals (LNWIs). There is no middle class and the wealth gap widens by the day. This may not entirely be a function of income but may include factors like inheritance and racial disparity. Put as a question, one may ask: how can the descendants of poor immigrants attain to better welfare if the society does not provide them with ample opportunities to do so? Expressing despair about America’s relationship with other countries, a character in the book laments, “the Chinese and Europeans are going to decouple from America…how good can it be? And we’re going to deport all our immigrants with weak Credit…this time I’m afraid we’re not going to pull out of it” (Shteyngart, 7). In a New York Times’ publication in 2010, the writer reports the country’s leaders, saying that “China will tighten its monetary policy in 2011…a sign that they are increasingly concerned about inflation and an overheated economy… The move, announced by China’s official news agency…comes as the United States continue to grapple with a global recession” (Wong, 1). This corroborates Shteyngart’s theory of a failing U.S. economy. Racial disparity is a “scheme” which relegates immigrants to the lowest social class. It may also force them to leave the U.S. without the threat of deportation. If immigrants know they will not be able to generate enough wealth to sustain the next generation’s American dream, they may as well return to their countries. This is because the main reason for emigrating to the U.S. for many people is to find a better life.

    The immigration enforcement tactics of the current administration is primarily designed to frustrate “aliens”. Examining President Trump’s orders on immigration and refugees in an article published in 2017, the Director of U.S. Immigration Policy Program reports that these executive orders border on the premise of national security, “that aliens entering illegally are a threat to national security, and that the recent surges of illegal immigration place a strain on resources and are overwhelming the enforcement agencies” (Immigration, Refugees, and American Foreign Policy, 2). However, there is no denial that these laws are put in place for good reasons too. And the security concerns of American citizens should not be discarded on the premise that they are not totally illegitimate. It is not right to act like the indiscriminate admission of Afghani or Yemeni refugees into the U.S. does not constitute a risk to national security. The challenge this situation presents will be more complex than that of an immigrant from Switzerland. Truth be told, illegal or unregulated emigration to the U.S. may create some serious security problems both in the present and future. However, problems like terrorism and inadequate resources are not ones “The Wall” can fence off. Anyone who lives in the U.S. will agree that the majority of workforce consists of immigrants from around the world. Nigerians, Indians, and even Chinese nationals have erected for themselves a system of patronage that contributes significantly to the U.S. economy. In the hospitality sector, immigrants (especially Mexicans) make up 90+ percent of the workforce. Throwing them over The Wall because they are “taking the jobs of Americans” will have a serious toll on businesses in particular and the U.S. economy in general. Borders are artificial boundaries that we humans create, but migration is a natural process. Whether by legal means or otherwise, migration cannot be regulated at the level which the present government proposes.

    So, what regulations did the government make to curb the “menace”? Actually, there are no clear-cut regulations put in place to tackle these challenges. What President Trump has done is a revision of the former administration’s immigration policies. While Obama’s regime only focused on recent migrants and ones who had committed a crime as subject to deportation, the Trump office sees every immigrant as a potential deportee. However, this new development does not appear to suffice as solution. This is probably because illegal immigration is not exactly America’s biggest problem. Simcox, who is a member of Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy applies a cultural context to the situation, positing that “immigration, refugee resettlement, and border management are not merely political matters, but matters that also involve a popular-elite divide and social dynamics beyond the obvious policy” (Immigration, Refugees, and American Foreign Policy, 4). One may suggest that this statement portrays the U.S., by and large, as a conservative society. A century-long tradition of the Caucasian society in preserving and passing along wealth and assets makes living in America generally unfavorable for immigrants. “Tracing the same households over 25 years, the wealth gap between white and black families nearly triples, increasing from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009” (The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap, 1). Extreme inequity of wealth will not only harm family well-being, but also get in the way of economic growth in our communities, and in the country as a whole. This problem, not the immigrants, needs to be fixed. But are there pragmatic ways to do it? A recent publication by the New York Times rigorously discusses the enactment of a radical shift in tax policy that will potentially reallocate resources, with the public giving widespread support for the proposal.

    A shift in tax policy in the U.S. will erode the economic power of the superrich and redistribute wealth to further close the social gap between the rich and poor. This may represent a remedy to the conservative policies President Trump, who implemented “a $1.5 trillion tax cut that largely benefits the rich Americans and corporations” (Rappeport , 4). “Progressive democrats including Senators Warren and Sanders have proposed wealth taxes that would shrivel the fortunes of the richest Americans. Senator Sanders was reported, saying “there’s no question to his mind that the United States is moving toward an oligarchy” (15). Clearly a few American billionaires possess almost half (40 percent) of the country’s wealth. They own corporations and expand their business dynasties to amass more wealth at the detriment of the larger population. In Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, they are characterized as the HNWIs who have an extremely strong “credit ranking.” These are similar to the Gates, Buffets and Bezos’ of our society. If these people’s wealth had been subject to taxation for a long time, the flow of wealth between classes would have significantly improved.

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