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President Biden’s future legacy

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I am deliberately writing this on the day of the election.

So nothing I say can be taken as reflecting on what did and didn’t or should have or shouldn’t have happened in the mid-term election.

As you know, Blue Book is an industrywide service, so we have a strong interest in remaining nonpartisan: our members certainly span the whole political spectrum.

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Nonetheless, I feel a desire to comment on the future legacy of President Biden.

No matter what your ideological stance may be, he has some genuine achievements to his credit: for example, I haven’t heard lately from anyone who thinks we should still have troops in Afghanistan.

Ultimately, I believe that his place in history (barring unforeseen developments, such as nuclear war) will hinge on his resolution of the immigration problem.

Which he has not done.

But he has plenty of precedents.

Since 1994, the official government policy, throughout a number of administrations, has been “Prevention through Deterrence.”

But deterrence has not proved effective—even, as we have seen, when it has been implemented with force.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports “Southwest Land Border Encounters” at 2,206,436 in the 12 months ending September 30.

The starting point, I believe, begins with acknowledging that illegal border crossings and farm labor issues are not two separate issues—one to be taken up when the other has been resolved, as some politicians claim.

Yet inasmuch as a comprehensive border solution has yet to be discovered, much less implemented, it is certainly time to begin with farm labor.

As many major agricultural organizations have repeatedly emphasized, one major step would be for the Senate to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

But even that remains far away. There is a possibility that it may pass a lame-duck Senate in the period between the election and the time the newly elected members take office, but that is a remote one.

The best solution would be a comprehensive program including not only a flexible and intelligent guestworker system but border security that is implemented in a realistic, effective, humane, and consistent way.

This is something that has not been done by any administration.

The usual response: “It can’t be done in the current legislative climate.”

It is my (not necessarily good) fortune to have an enormous number of business self-help books come to my desk. Practically all of them same the same thing—sometimes from cover to cover.

They all begin with the maxim that in order to succeed, you must begin with the premise that you can and must succeed and will not take no for an answer. Failures may and will occur, but they are nothing more than learning experiences.

Great fortunes have been made by those who have followed this advice.

It is time to import this mentality into government.

Will President Biden do this, either in this term or the next (should he have one)?

He is far from a perfect president, but he has enjoyed one great advantage all along: he has been consistently underestimated.

It is in our own interest to hope he will come through.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.