Foreign Affairs on the Death of Democracy

The new issue of Foreign Affairs magazine asks, “Is democracy dying?”  Editor Gideon Rose’s introduction says,”As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, ‘We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.’”  What Rose fails to note is that English is less and less the language of political discourse in the United States, as Spanish displaces English throughout the country.  America is becoming a Latin American country (where authoritarian government is more common), rather than a Western European country founded by British colonists who rebelled against the authoritarianism of the British king.

Analyzing whether the US is becoming more authoritarian is a legitimate topic, but it is clearly aimed at being critical of President Trump.  I haven’t read all the articles, but I guess it is going to have a strong anti-Trump bias, perhaps deserved, perhaps not.  One of Trump’s main issues has been immigration, but surprisingly much of the Mexican immigration is due to Republican President Reagan.  However, much of the recent immigration has been due to Democratic appeals to Latinos, such as DACA, more lenient enforcement of immigrtation laws, etc.

The bipartisan Latinization of the United States didn’t really begin until the middle of the 20th century.  The most important impetus was Ronald Reagan’s grant of amnesty to illegal aliens in 1986 to deal with a vastly increased immigration flow that had begun about 20 years earlier.  This law triggered a subsequent more massive influx of aliens hoping to benefit from the next amnesty.

The following graph from the Migration Policy Institute show the dramatic increase in Mexican immigrants following Reagan’s 1986 amnesty.

According to that group:

In 2016, Mexicans accounted for approximately 26 percent of immigrants in the United States, making them by far the largest foreign-born group in the country….  The predominance of Latin American and Asian immigration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries starkly contrasts with the trend in the mid-1900s, when immigrants were largely European. In the 1960s no single country accounted for more than 15 percent of the total immigrant population. 

It’s not clear how these statistics differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.  There are a number of legal Mexican immigrants, and the number of illegals is difficult to measure because most of them are in hiding of some kind.  So, estimates of illegals are untrustworthy, but from looking through some internet data, it looks to me like there are more or less equal numbers of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants.

I believe that the Foreign Affairs thesis about the death of democracy is largely the product of massive immigration that the changed the cultural climate of the United States.  This is no longer a Western or Northern European nation with a tradition of democratic institutions.  It has developed a culture that favors a caurdillo over a popularly elected president responsible to Congress and the people. 

From <https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states#Numbers>

From <https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states#Numbers>

From <https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-04-16/democracy-dying>

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