Malinowski and Mowing Lawns: Imperfect Together

Insider NJ's Fred Snowflack reports on Rep. Tom Malinowski's recent work time event where he addressed what he called fundamental questions to a jam-packed room of more than 100 in the Summit town library.
ROCKY HILL – Tom Malinowski doesn’t have much of a lawn around his house.

Only some bushes, a few trees and small patches of grass that don’t seem all that hard to mow.

Those wondering why a congressman’s lawn is being discussed haven’t been following a number of conservative web sites. Some have gone a bit bonkers in the last few days after Malinowski suggested that undocumented workers are needed for such menial jobs as mowing the grass.

The spin is that the Seventh District congressman is an elitist who thinks he and his ilk are above doing something as proletarian as push a lawn mower or perish the thought, pull some weeds.

One writer said that if Donald Trump uttered such a thing, it would have made the front page of the New York Times. And both the national Republican  congressional committee and local GOP candidate Tom Kean have gotten into the act. The D.C. group said the congressman “has yet to apologize.” The Kean camp concluded that Malinowski is “too elitist to mow his own lawn.”

Now we come to the needed reality check.

What follows is some of what Malinowski said at a public event last week in Hillsborough.

“There are a lot of jobs in our community. that like it or not, for better or for worse, Americans are not willing to take. Who do you think is taking care of our seniors? Who do you think is mowing our beautiful lawns in Somerset County?”

He added, “We don’t usually ask, but a lot of those workers are undocumented.”

Later, he observed that “just not a lot of kids” from affluent suburbs (His example was Montgomery High School) are going to do that sort of work. And then he joked in reply to some comments from the audience that young suburban kids are more likely to go into robotics than take a landscaping job.

Nothing Malinowski said should strike any clear-thinking person as unreasonable.

Premise number one here is that undocumented workers are in New Jersey, and the United States, because their labors are needed.

Premise number two is that anyone living in the Seventh District, or close to it, is well aware that immigrants, some here legally, some not, handle a variety of low-level jobs, including washing dishes in diners, making beds in hotels, pumping gas and, yes, landscaping positions.

Nothing is 100 percent true 100 percent of the time. So, there certainly are young native-born Americans who work the above-mentioned jobs,

However, the congressman was merely making a generalization that should be obvious to anyone who lives in his district, which for the record, I happen to do myself.

The larger point is that his observation is relevant to any national debate about immigration, legal and otherwise.

One should not blame Republicans for looking for an issue on which to jump.  That happens all the time in politics. And keep in mind that the GOP would love to knock off Malinowski, who narrowly won his seat last year, in the 2020 election.

At the same time, this is a purely invented issue.

What Malinowski said was true, no question about it. This issue should have been over before it started.

Malinowski, by the way,  has another public event – “Coffee with your congressman” he calls it – Tuesday evening in Mount Olive. He should show up with a lawn mower.


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  • 1Prop

    The race isn’t until 2020 and already it has gotten silly.

  • jeff s

    Wow, that’s a pathetic attack. Anyway, accused of being elitist in NJ 7 is not necessarily a bad thing. No member of the Kean family has probably ever touched a lawnmower.

  • Distilled Spirit

    No. Illegal aliens are here for the opportunity to undercut the wages of low-income workers. And they do. Studies show this:

    • CreepyLurker

      Seems to me that if illegal aliens weren’t hired by legal business owners, none of this would be a problem. Perhaps we should start prosecuting them?

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