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November 07th 2016 print

Peter Smith

Those Huddled Masses and Their Votes

There is a danger in these post-modern days, when Western culture is under attack from within by the left, that the impact of importing people whose culture is inferior (by any measure) will be underrated, that ethnic politics and enclaves shape the broader democracy

vote latinoAccording to CNN back in 2012, the Latino population in the US as a proportion of the whole will increase to 29% in 2050. It is now 17%. As to voters, according to Pew Research, published in January, 2016, 11.3% of eligible voters in the US election are Latino. This matters in some states more than others because of the uneven spread of the Latino population. In California, for example, it is 28%, in New Mexico 40%, in Texas 28%, in Florida 18% and in Nevada 17%. Usually around two-thirds vote Democrat in presidential elections. Obama got 71% in 2012.

What matters when it comes to having an open and prosperous society? It is clear that having material resources is not particularly relevant. When all is said and done it is only culture that matters. Or, (sotto voce) does race/ethnicity matter too in affecting cultural norms? My prior is that race only seems to be important because of the association of non-Caucasian populations with the absence of deeply-seated Christian norms of behaviour and civility. Though this does not seem to work too well when it comes to Central and South America. I don’t know the answer.

The US Census Bureau classifies Latinos (or interchangeably Hispanics) as having a lineage traced to Spain (25), Argentina (13), Cuba (n.a.), Colombia (6), Puerto Rico (n.a.), Mexico (9), Dominican Republic (6), Costa Rica (11), Guatemala (4), Honduras (2), Nicaragua (2), Panama (13), El Salvador (4), Bolivia (3), Chile (13), Ecuador (6), Paraguay (4), Peru (6), Uruguay (16), and Venezuela (n.a.). In brackets is the per-capita income of each country in 2015 to the nearest thousand $US, as published by The World Bank. Some do much better than others but, leaving Spain aside for obvious reasons; none are within distance of income in North America (55) or Australia (56) or prosperous Western European nations (Germany (41) France (36)).

It is no wonder that Latinos want to get to the US. But the question is what cultural baggage they bring with them – which has led to relative poverty and political instability and corruption in their own countries — and by how much will this be ameliorated by their integration into US culture? There is a danger in these post-modern days, when Western culture is under attack from within by the left, that the negative influence of importing people whose culture is inferior (by any measure) will be underrated.

Numbers undoubtedly matter. The larger is an immigrant group the more likely it is that ghettos will form, effectively insulating migrant populations from the mainstream. Concentration in geographical areas also gives them disproportionate political power. We see this in Australia with Muslim populations and the resultant kowtowing to win seats. For example, how else do you explain the Gillard Government’s disreputable decision in 2012 to abstain rather than vote against a resolution at the UN granting ‘Palestinian territories’ observer status?

In the United States it is evident that Latinos will have an increasing influence on the political agenda and on election outcomes. If Hillary Clinton wins she will win because of a high degree of uniform voting by Latinos (and, of course, by African-Americans – but that is another story). This matters for the health of a society. It fits into identity politics and pits one set of Americans against another based on their immutable ethnicity rather than simply on their mutable political views. But it goes further than this.

What do Latinos want of their government? Why do they predominantly vote Democrat? I could be quite wrong but let me guess. They want government to do things to make life easier. After all life is hard back in the old country because the government is no good; no fault of the people. A better government equals a better life. Putting government at the centre of well-being is a dangerous cultural mindset.

In Western societies there is, or has been, a swinging core of people who can be persuaded at times that government should do less rather than more, should spend less, and interfere less. If that swinging core is negated by growing nanny-state-focused ethnic voting blocs then government has only one way to go and that is to grow continually in size and scope. Each political party competes in largesse as the only path to power. Increasingly this process is being played out. No-one knows how it will end. But it is likely to end badly.

And it gets worse when ethnic voting blocs become fixated on their own perceived ethnic interests. Alexis de Tocqueville worried about the tyranny of the majority. More worrying is the tyranny of minority ethnic groups pushing their own agendas and, by virtue of their strategic voting power, pushing the whole political process askew. No-one knows how this will end either. But it is not hard to see it taking Western societies away from their core cultural values. These are the values — free speech being one under notable pressure — which have separated Western societies from the banana republics that Latinos in America (or their forefathers) used to call home.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [11]

  1. Keith Kennelly says:

    Peter, Gillian Triggs here.

  2. pgang says:

    “Though this does not seem to work too well when it comes to Central and South America. I don’t know the answer.”

    Peter, these nations were not involved in the Reformation…? Just a suggestion, I don’t know much about their histories.

    • Peter says:

      Pgang, the absence of the Reformation is a theory. I am being influenced currently by having recently read a couple of books by historian and catholic Rodney Stark, who downplays the impact of the Reformation and seems convincing.

      • pgang says:

        Academics are currently doing their best to downgrade the Reformation, I suspect because it has too much of the whiff of a theological underpinning for western culture. Can’t have that. I would disagree you in that the Reformation was essential for establishing the modern principal of individual liberty, which is the very core of our culture. It’s take no prisoners approach to honest exegesis freed the west from scholastic neoplatonism and and provided the framework for an empirical approach to understanding the human condition and our relationship to the creation – ie, the study of nature. So the Reformation was probably essential for the birth of modernism. Peter Harrison has written a great deal on the historical influences on modernity, and he is well worth reading.

        • whitelaughter says:

          [nods] Additionally, the the shock of Reformation allowed the Counter-Reformation to clear out the worst excesses: which in turn forced Protestant Europe to play its best game. The constant competition to be the best branch of Christianity benefited all of Western Europe, north and south.

  3. Keith Kennelly says:

    Here is something few in the msm have reported. The Mexican President after his meeting with Trump expressed sentiment favouring a wall but not paying for it.
    Why would the Mexican government want a wall?

    Simple reason, he said, was that it would stop the return of murderers, rapists and other criminals from the US. And it would severely hinder the illegal border crossings of drug runners, both wars.

    • Doc S says:

      You’re looking in the wrong direction – not THAT wall – the other one. How on earth could Trump meet with Pena Nieto let alone have anything they’d even remotely agree on? Yet we know Trump not only did meet but apparently even discussed things they could agree on. Nieto told Trump that Mexico has its own problem with ‘illegals’ flooding across their border from Central and South America, either looking for a better life or on the way to the US of A, and having as at least a deleterious affect on Mexico as they are on the US. That would be the Mexican southern border. Trump apparently said something like ‘we can help you with that’ suggesting a quid pro quo with the Mexicans in turn for helping build the US wall. We don’t know the entire veracity of this but Nieto did corroborate it when defending his meeting with Trump after understandably coming in for a storm of criticism for it.

  4. Eeyore says:

    I think the expression is bread and circus’s, with the same lamentable results.

  5. Bill Martin says:

    Taking to its logical conclusion the scenario aptly outlined by Peter Smith, – i.e. the formation of various immigrant ethnic ghettos with the active assistance of western governments – entire countries are likely to become a patchwork of such markedly diverse zones, vying with one another for the benefits of government largesse, resulting in hostility akin to that between rival criminal gangs.

  6. The ‘Latin’ economies under-perform because they don’t/didn’t have Adam Smith influencing them. Western/Anglosphere nations are also slowly going backwards because the ‘intellectuals’ now dominating the media and academia are now more influenced by Marx than Adam Smith. Below are examples of Smith’s insights into human behaviour.
    - When individuals are left to pursue their own self-interest there will be a net benefit for the common good.
    - By pursuing his/her own rational self interest, a person frequently promotes that of the society more effectively than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected [pretended] to trade for the public good.
    - Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things
    - It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
    - Science is the great antidote to the poison of superstition.

  7. Bran Dee says:

    Certainly in Australia and the US new settlers were offered land grants, land to become the private property promising wealth to hard working individuals.
    In Latin America I recall land was distributed as estates to powerful people who then employed the landless farm workers. So a line was drawn between a propertied class and landless peasants.
    My Argentine born barber, of Italian roots like the present Pope, says Argentina suffered by the military being too strong and either running government or influencing it. So Argentina with endemic corruption fell behind Australia. Then cry for Argentina!