The current schism over immigration reform is indicative of this split. Where you stand probably has less to do with a right vs. left — or even libertarian vs. traditional conservative paradigm — than whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. …

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Kemp said in 1996, during his vice-presidential acceptance speech. “We must close the backdoor of illegal immigration so that we can keep open the front door of legal immigration.” …

If you have a negative worldview, you’ll probably dismiss Kemp’s philosophy as quixotic hooey. Meanwhile, Kemp’s words will likely inspire the optimist. …

This divide isn’t just about policy, either. It’s also about process. The optimists believe our leaders have the ability to craft legislation that — while not perfect — can make things slightly better. Pessimists see legislators as either inept, impotent, gullible, or corrupt.

And, of course, this is also about future elections. The optimists believe many immigrants will support an opportunity society where achieving the American Dream is still possible. The pessimists scoff at such naivety. They assume that new citizens will seek only their own self interest, thus dramatically increasing the welfare state.