I have resisted writing about the U.S. Republican Party’s nominee for president. This decision likely cost me some Twitter followers. Misogyny and xenophobia get people tweeting. For publishers, editors and reporters, Donald Trump was Miracle Gro for their digital audiences. Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy released a studyon June 13 that shows Trump received an unusual amount of coverage in 2015 for a candidate with such miniscule poll numbers. Other estimates suggest the ink, pixels and airtime devoted to Trump amount to more than $2 billion in free advertising. As a result, the mainstream press is obliged to report objectively on proposals such as refusing visas to all Muslims.
So now that I have typed the T-word, let us attempt the kind of discussion about migration that might have been possible if the media had left him on the fringes. The United Nations Refugee Agency predicts that more than 1 million people will seek resettlement through 2017, a 72 percent increase of 2014. Demand for safe passports far outstrips supply, however. Even with increased refugee quotas by countries such as Canada, the UN expects it will find havens for only 143,000 people this year and 170,000 in 2017. The leaders of advanced nations say they want to do more and there is no reason to question their sincerity. But they are afraid of the politics. The exodus of refugees from Syria, Sudan and other fraught places exacerbates the political sensitivities that plague economic migration. Robots have replaced far more American and European factory workers than have migrants, yet Trump and others have had little difficulty obfuscating that fact while pitching to their supporters’ base instincts. Moderates need a better response than they have managed to date. There may be a role for the G20 in providing one.
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