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What Pundits Really Mean When They Say Mexicans Are "Socially Conservative"
[Hispanics] should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, family-oriented and socially conservative. The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants.
Charles Krauthammer was born in New York City and raised in Montreal, then educated at McGill, Oxford, and Harvard Medical School, where he graduated with his class despite breaking his neck during his first year. He's been paralyzed for close to four decades and that takes its toll in all sorts of ways. Who knows how much else he would have been able to accomplish if he hadn't been in a wheelchair? In other words, he's an exceptional individual.
One thing he clearly hasn't had time for in his remarkable life is getting to know much about Mexican-Americans.
Now, we've been through before this "natural social conservative" meme. Nobody has ever shown how it translates into many Republican votes.
So, what do affluent, sophisticated pundits mean when they say that Hispanics (of which approaching 70% are Mexican) are socially conservative?
It finally occurs to me that the reason elites like Krauthammer say that (and even sort of believe that) is because, deep down, they equate "socially conservative" with "tacky."
And, indeed, Mexican-Americans, whether immigrant or born here, do not, generally, display refined taste. So, that makes them "socially conservative."
Now, I'm quite conscious that I don't have the best of taste, and even more so that I don't have the money to buy it either. I'm quite aware that my neighbors are saints for not complaining to my face about my dinged up cars and other failings at keeping up property values. I don't upgrade my landscaping to follow trends, I'm not always thinking about how to make things look better. I wish I had the money, energy, time, and talent to do that. But, I don't.
Still, being perfectly open that I've not the right person to complain, I've got to say that, having spent much of my life living near Mexican-American neighborhoods, that Mexican tackiness just wears me down.
I can't believe that nobody else in America has the same reaction. I suspect Krauthammer does. But how many other pundits ever mention that immigration policy is directly related to the aesthetic wear-and-tear imposed by giant Mexican neighborhoods? It just doesn't seem to come up.
Maybe everybody else just assumes that it's all going to change for the better Real Soon Now. But, I can remember back about, say, 45 years, and not much has changed.
I've been trying to figure out why upper middle class white people in, say, Marin County, people who are extremely concerned about optimizing the aesthetics of their lifestyles, like it when illegal immigrants push out the indigenous working class from their region We've been through the cheap-labor aspects of this a million times, but I'm interested here in the pure psychology of why else you'd also support policies that drive out natives that speak your language and look like yourself.
Say you live on that lovely winding road in Marin County where George Lucas tried and failed for 15 years to get permission to convert 5% of his vast ranch into a movie studio. As a moderately wealthy homeowner, an average of three times per week you have male blue collar service workers come by to do work in your house and on your grounds.
Back in the Bad Old Days a couple of decades or so ago, the workers were third generation Californian Okies, real Grapes of Wrath types, or maybe some assimilated American-born Chicanos, or maybe some Okie-Chicano mixes. Now, they are all Mexicans or Central Americans, six inches shorter, and only the foreman speaks English.
Leaving aside the cost issue, why is that an improvement in your lifestyle?
I can imagine several reasons.
First, your workers now look poorer. That's reassuring. That suggests they aren't ripping you off by charging too much. In the old days, your workers were strapping big guys, and it gnawed away at you that you were paying them more than you had too. Sure, you could afford it, but, still ... it bothered you.
Second, the new guys don't speak English, so you can't understand them when they talk to each other, so they don't get on your nerves as much when they talk about whatever low class things yard workers talk to each other about.
Third, most of your new workers don't try to talk to you because they don't speak English. Remember the plumber with the biker sideburns who always wanted to talk to you about the Raiders? Well, he moved to Idaho. Good riddance.
Fourth, you can't understand the lyrics to their songs. Granted, the newcomers' musical tastes are pretty dire, but at least it's not Country, with all those Blue Collar Pride lyrics crafted in Nashville by Vanderbilt English majors to annoy people like you.
Fifth, their bumper stickers aren't as obnoxious as the American proles' bumper stickers were. Remember the pickup truck with all the NRA bumper stickers? It just drove you crazy. Well, maybe if you could read the Spanish bumperstickers you'd be offended, but you can't, so you're not.
Sixth, now you aren't worried anymore about your wife or daughter taking a shine to some guy with a tool belt. (Look what happened to Larry David. Let that be a lesson to us all.) But it's not going to happen if the guy with the tool belt is 5'2" and speaks Mixtec.
In summary, your service workers used to be real people to you, and that was a major hassle. Now, they are just The Other, and you like it like that.