Kamala Harris and American Exceptionalism

When people think of recent American politicians who pursued ambitious foreign policies, they naturally think of former President George W. Bush. But on Wednesday Vice President Kamala Harris sketched out part of a Biden agenda that may reflect just as much confidence in the power of the U.S. government to change the planet. Mr. Bush famously set the goal of “ending tyranny in our world.” Team Biden is not just trying to eliminate the world’s most popular energy sources, but simultaneously aiming to reduce poverty so much outside our borders that people won’t even want to cross them illegally.

This column urges both parties to find ways to increase legal migration so that the United States can continue to benefit from its competitive edge of attracting talented and motivated people from all over the world—while also enjoying credible borders. But instead of making a serious and sincere effort in that direction, Team Biden is opting for the more difficult task of trying to fix foreign countries so they won’t be a source of illegal migrants.

On Wednesday the vice president hosted a “virtual roundtable of experts on the Northern Triangle” to discuss ways to reduce the flow of people from El Slavador, Guatemala and Honduras who are determined one way or another to get to the land of the free.

According to the White House transcript of the event, Ms. Harris said:

There is an important four-letter word, which I hope always inspires us to do the work we do, and that word is “hope.” And in this regard, in — in our focus on the Northern Triangle, looking at the fact that we have an opportunity — as the United States of America, with the resources and with the will that we have — to provide the people of the Northern Triangle with some hope that if they stay at home, help is on the way and they can have some hope that the opportunities and the needs that they have will be met in some way.

Now, I will say that — I’m very clear — I think — I know we all are. This is a group of experts; I’m, again, really looking forward to hearing from you. We are all very clear the work that we have the potential to do in the Northern Triangle will not evidence itself overnight by any stretch.

This last part is certainly true. Just as George W. Bush in 2005 didn’t promise to end global tyranny overnight, today it’s wise not to promise a rapid and meaningful reduction in the incentive to move to the greatest country in the world.

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