Friday, July 19, 2024

SELLERS: What I Learned Behind the Scenes at ZeroHedge’s Immigration Debate

'To crash the debate or not crash the debate that is the question...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) It’s a humbling feeling to spend two hours in a room where the person with the next smallest Twitter following is running for president of the United States.

Granted, Chase Oliver’s biggest obstacles may have been overcoming the threat of perennial candidate Vermin Supreme, explaining to Donald Trump at the Libertarian National Convention that Deroy Murdock wasn’t really the best representative of the party’s core principles, and enduring the looks of disappointment from those expecting to see Giant Gay Bong clinch the nomination.

Oliver was one of several marquee names to participate in ZeroHedge’s livestreamed “Border Debate” at its Washington, D.C., studio space on Wednesday.

After receiving an invitation to sit in on the debate behind the scenes and cover it for Headline USA, I jumped at the opportunity.

In addition to Oliver (who beat out the aforementioned Supreme, as well as Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to receive the Libertarian Party nod for president), Reason magazine editor Robby Soave represented what might be characterized as a more “moderate” (in his own words) pro-immigration stance from the libertarian Right.

Arguing the pro-border-security perspectives were Human Events editor Jack Posobiec (whose 2.5 million Twitter followers far eclipsed everyone else in the room combined—and who was also live-tweeting the debate while participating in it), as well as Ryan Girdusky, a political consultant and author of the national populist newsletter, who did his homework ahead of the debate and showed up loaded for bear.

While it touched on a full range of immigration-related topics, from the economic benefits (or lack thereof) to cultural concerns to national security issues—even bringing up the question of whether the U.S should strategically target drug cartels in Mexico or whether that would be considered an act of war—the participants’ positions were encapsulated, simply enough, in the opening and closing statements that each offered:

  • Oliver said the underlying objective in his policies was to facilitate immigration, with the focus of border security being on screening out only dangerous illegals. He argued that more immigration was key to greater growth, suggesting that the wave of early 20th-century immigrants who arrived from Ellis Island had fueled America’s industrial revolution (to which Girdusky pointed out that the nation’s earlier, agrarian iteration was more in line with libertarian values and the wave of European immigrants had likely imported socialist attitudes when they arrived).

  • Soave was less intent on arguing the economic benefits of immigration, but he did maintain that the cost associated with reversing the Biden administration’s open-border crisis through Republican candidate Donald Trump’s mass-deportation plan was not only infeasible but a poor use of resources in comparison to other priorities, such as incarcerating criminals within the U.S., regardless of nationality. Soave continued to cite a cost of $1 trillion to deport the estimated 20 million illegals, saying he would rather see it spent elsewhere.
  • Girdusky borrowed a famous phrase used in a bygone era by Bill and Hillary Clinton to refer to abortion, saying that immigration should be “safe, legal and rare.” He argued that the ideal policy would be “net-zero” immigration, in which each immigrant brought into the country replaced one who left or died. By keeping the rate low and demanding the best of the best, the country could ensure that immigrants brought value, culturally and economically, while also assimilating into the national identity and reassuring Republicans that the Biden border policy was more than simply a Great Replacement strategy to import Democrat voters in order to flip states like Texas permanently blue. (Oliver countered that the idea that immigrants inherently gravitated toward Democrat values amounted to little more than a “Republican marketing problem.”)
  • Posobiec poignantly sought to emphasize the impact that immigration had on innocent crime victims, yielding the balance of his opening time in memory of several young girls and women who were violently murdered at the hands of illegals.

Both he and Girdusky agreed that a recent proposal by Trump to grant green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. schools was a poorly conceived plan that would turn today’s diploma mills into hubs for foreigners seeking a fast track to citizenship.

Attempting a thorough summary of the full two-hour debate (the length of which caught even several of the participants off guard) would be too mammoth an undertaking for a single article. However, many more highlights have since surfaced on the participants’ social-media accounts, and ZeroHedge itself compiled an article with several memorable highlights.

Posobiec lamented afterward that there was not an opportunity for the two moderators—CounterPoints co-hosts Emily Jashinsky and Ryan Grim—to respond to user-submitted commentary from the various feeds on Twitter, YouTube and Rumble where the livestream was broadcast.

Despite what appeared at times to be a heated conversation on camera, the apparent cordiality and jocular banter behind the scenes left me with the impression that the media personalities present had much more in common with one another—a shared set of mutual experiences on the punditry circuit—than their broad diversity of opinions would suggest.

They dished gossip about a certain member of Congress having too many drinks and too many wedding engagements. And Oliver offered his candid opinion that the “Become Ungovernable” banner, which notably hung onstage at the libertarian convention last month, gave off a “Limp Bizkit ’99” vibe, acknowledging that most of those in the room were millennials of a certain age.

While it was a privilege to spend time in such company, the relative inadequacy of my paltry 740 738 Twitter followers undoubtedly marked me as an interloper.

Thus, it was to my great relief to hear that there was another spectator—Posobiec’s brother Kevin, a carpenter who was catching the train down from Pennsylvania.

Little did I know that Kevin also had a following of 20,000 on social media.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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