One of the funnier stories to me this year in a rather grim and nasty year for politics have been a lot of complaining about “busloads of Somalians” being loaded up to vote in Columbus, Ohio. Now, I have some friends in the area, and perhaps they can confirm or deny these reports, but all I have heard is some anonymous and possibly exaggerated sniping. After all, Somalia is not too far away from Kenya, and so some might assume that people from Somalia (and they’re called Somalis rather than Somalians, for the record) might vote for a Kenyan president, considering that Columbus has a fairly high population of Somali refugees, about a quarter or so of whom are apparently American citizens. But I am not prone to despair, and I would like to comment a little bit on the matter.
For one, I do not like to assume that a particular group of people is permanently devoted to a given worldview. As someone who has written a fair amount about the business-minded nature of Somalilanders, I tend to believe that those who have escaped from an asabiya black hole like Somalia to reach the United States are going to be more ambitious than their countrymen back home. If you want to see what a nation that depends on the dole looks like, with near 100% of people receiving international aid and contributing nothing to the official economy, Somalia is the poster child of that economic model. It doesn’t work. Between droughts and civil war and pirates and radical Islam, Somalia is not the sort of nation anyone wants to live in. Somalis are here in the United States because they want to avoid that kind of life and because they want to make their own way. I say we give them the chance and not let their national origin hold them back. There is no need to assume that these people are going to vote for the same sort of governments and policies that sent their own nation into catastrophic failure.
It is impossible not to see someone’s external qualities, to make judgments on someone’s ethnicity or gender or accent. That said, the most important parts of someone are internal–their personality and especially their character. If someone has the drive to succeed, and they are people of honor and high moral character, there should be no artificial barriers to their success. I do not care if someone is a man or a woman, a Somali, a Mexican, or a bug-eyed green alien, young or old, as long as they are good people with good character who desire to make a good life for themselves and others, they ought to have no problems finding respect and an honored place with me. It is easiest to find success when others are successful as well, and the best way to combat problems of dependency is providing wide opportunities to others for success.
So if busloads of Somalis are going to the polls, here is hoping that they have the drive to succeed, and the knowledge that they can choose to reward identity politics and judging people by the color of their skin or by their gender, or they can reward opportunity for everyone to succeed. But rather than merely believing that this is a choice for only the ballot box, this is a choice we can make every single day. Do we seek only our own self-interest, or do we look out for others as well. Do we seek to make life just for all, and provide opportunities for all? People of high character will appreciate other people of high character, in whatever packaging that comes in. So I do not fear busloads of Somalis. Rather, I welcome them to a land where they seek the same opportunities I do, and I wish them all the blessings that heaven allows.