From The Week
The appeal of Trump: Why immigration may be the defining issue of the 21st centuryMichael Brendan Dougherty
August 31, 2015There was once a fanciful idea that the internet and all its attendant technologies of cheap communication would reverse the pattern of urbanization in developed countries. Some people still believe this: People could telecommute to work while enjoying the comforts of the small towns and country roads of their childhood. A few people, in fact, do this. But the for the most part the opposite phenomenon is playing out. The information age is the age of moving people. And if that’s true, Donald Trump is just the first manifestation of a new era in global politics.The information age makes it very easy for a small town kid to find an apartment, a job, and a social network in the big cities and growth areas. It also allows him to stay connected with friends at home. In other words, it lowers the price of moving and the cost of leaving. It reduces the feeling of disorientation in new places, while allowing people to still belong, in some sense, to where they came from. New York, Los Angeles, D.C., Silicon Valley, Portland, and Austin have all benefited from these trends.And the truth is that this is a global phenomenon. It's easier than ever to establish social, commercial, and employment relationships in places thousands of miles away from you. So why not go there? …
Social media, which largely consists of bragging about how awesome your life is, encourages mass migration. Some guy in Ghana is barraged by his cousins in Europe posting cellphone photos of their amazing lives, so he spends $5k to sneak into Europe. There he finds that maybe his life isn’t quite as wonderful as he’d expected, but he can still brag to the naive folks back home. Which is nice.
It’s not a coincidence that Trump is surging ahead because of his anti-immigration views in America, while Europe is roiled by debates over how to handle migrants crossing the Mediterranean.This, incidentally, is why I am convinced that there was no way that the GOP could have precluded the Donald Trump moment in American politics by passing comprehensive immigration reform two years ago. The movement of people from country to the city, from poor nations to richer nations, from the Global South to the Global North, may be the great political problem of the next age in global development. ….Trump says that Mexico is exporting its problems to the U.S. But the truth is that, along with some problems, the Global South (particularly Africa) is sending its prodigies abroad, many of them never to return.
But, keep in mind, below the Academy Award-winning film director/cinematographer level, Mexico sends very few prodigies to the U.S. Mexico is a huge country and the vast majority of Mexico’s most talented make a nice living in Mexico, and that has become nicer over time. Thirty years ago, the future of Mexico City, for example, looked Blade Runner
horrific (see NYT Mexico correspondent Alan Riding’s bestseller Distant Neighbors)
as its population was expected to grow from 18 million to 30 million.
But that didn’t happen because surplus peasants from the countryside moved to the United States instead of Mexico City, relieving pressure on Mexico City elites and their lifestyles.