Victor Davis Hanson
A recent Wall Street Journal poll reported that if the 2022 midterms were held currently, some 37 percent of Hispanic/Latino voters would likely support the Republican candidate. An equal number polled support for the Democrats.
Perhaps key is the 22 percent who remain “undecided” and thereby illustrate that the traditionally Democratic Hispanic vote is now up for grabs.
Remember that just a year ago about 60 percent of Hispanics voted against Donald Trump and Republican candidates in general. And by about the same margin, according to exit polls, they voted not to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom—about the same ratio as the white vote. Still, a 60-40 percent pro-Newsom margin among mostly Democratic Hispanics was striking for its erosion from a once lockstep Democratic constituency.
Most interestingly, Wall Street Journal polls also showed that in a potential (but probably unlikely) 2024 match-up between Biden and Trump, Hispanic voters would split about evenly (44 percent Biden, 43 percent Trump). Are Hispanics then following the trajectory of middle-class whites who have left the Democratic Party in droves and helped redefine the Republican Party as a more populist, working-class movement?
Because new immigration has all but stopped among conservative Cubans, and there are still relatively few numbers of wizened Venezuelan arrivals, these shifts suggest radical changes in second- and third-generation Hispanic voters. More importantly, should the border ever become de facto closed, as it nearly was by early 2020, the ideological shift rightward would likely accelerate. There would be fewer new arrivals professing fealty to the Democratic Party for ending immigration enforcement while expanding entitlements. We would likely see instead greater assimilation and integration of ascendant and ever more conservative second- and third-generation Hispanics.
So, if the Wall Street Journal polls are somewhat accurate—and other polls have suggested the same trends—what has happened and why now? After all, open-border Republican grandees for a generation have been mistakenly predicting that Hispanics would soon vote conservatively, if only their party would push “comprehensive immigration reform” that many felt to be a euphemism for blanket amnesties and open borders.
Obviously, the last 11 months of Democratic rule have been seen as disastrous by all voters, Hispanics included. None of the Biden initiatives on crime, inflation, energy, the border, foreign policy, or race relations are either working or popular. The public, regardless of race, likely feels that most of these crises are not, as alleged by the Left, attributable to the long-gone Donald Trump or COVID-19, but to Joe Biden and the hard Left who seem to have control over him.
The southern border was once secure. The wall was progressing—until Biden stopped it and allowed a scheduled 2 million to enter in a time of pandemic. He did not require of illegal aliens either viral testing or vaccinations. U.S. soldiers and federal workers, in contrast, are not accorded such exemptions.
Afghanistan was stable in January 2021—until a few months later Biden deliberately pulled out without warning, leaving to the Taliban a $1 billion embassy; a huge, $300 million renovated air base; and over $80 million in advanced weaponry.
Inflation was low—until Biden announced a series of initiatives that, if passed, will likely mean printing $5 trillion in new money at a time of pent-up demand, supply chain interruptions, looming higher taxes and more regulations, and counterproductive subsidies to pay the idle not to reenter the workforce. Voters can sense that the current unbearable rise in prices is neither transitory nor static—but the foretaste of a far worse stagflation to come.
Gas prices were cheap—until Biden warned gas and oil producers that their days were numbered, and their regulatory and tax costs would soar. In less than a year, he canceled new oil leases on federal lands. He shut down pipelines and put the entire ANWAR field off limits—while those around him bragged that gas and oil would be superfluous within a decade.
Worse still, the administration seems unconcerned with the energy price spikes. Indeed, the Left’s green elite like higher prices for fossil fuels, in order to discourage their use among the middle classes. Even so, Biden found a way to humiliate himself by begging autocratic Russians and Saudis to pump more of the fuel his administration seems to hate.
So Hispanic voters, like most of their fellow Americans, are angry as they pay more for the stuff of life—food, cars, housing, and fuel.
As a smug candidate, Joe Biden personalized COVID-19 as the sole responsibility of whoever is the current president in power. It was cheap and easy to do in the last election: the vaccinations were shortly to be released, and already billed as spelling the “end” of the virus. The Delta variant was unknown. Caseloads and deaths were beginning to dip.
Then Biden was hoisted on his own petard, as more now have died on Biden’s watch—despite his inheritance of mass inoculations—than on Trump’s. Biden aides scramble either to blame the long-gone Trump for the 2021 death tolls or to claim a president has little control of an epidemic. His tired mantra of more masks means little. But his trademark lockdowns meant a great deal of pain for those on middle-class budgets, with kids suddenly back at a newly single-income home, in need of parental supervision from 9-5.
Finally, no one likes rescheduling an entire shopping and driving lifestyle to accommodate criminals who loot, carjack, steal, and assault in the major cities and suburbs with seeming impunity, driven by leftwing ideology.
In other words, the Biden disasters from February to December no doubt explain Hispanic short-term discontent.
Assimilation, Integration, Intermarriage—Italian-Style
But what worries the Left is also their sense that Hispanic disenchantment with Democrats is not transitory but becoming permanent—and perhaps growing due to existential causes beyond the failed Biden presidency and the disasters it inflicted on the American people.
Polls might be even worse than they appear—at least in the Electoral College sense. Half of Hispanics who still support Democrats likely already live in blue states like California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey; while those transitioning to conservatism may keep Florida and Texas red, while swaying the vote in swing states like Arizona and Georgia.
Hispanics are also following trends established by 19th and 20th century Italian immigrants. They also arrived poor and Catholic, and in need of state support, but were similarly innately entrepreneurial, family-centered, and traditional. Today, Italian ancestry—whether one is a Cuomo or a Giuliani—is no longer an indication of political affinity. Likewise, the more Hispanics ascend into the middle-middle and upper-middle classes, become suburban homeowners, and demand more competitive schools, the more they will vote against open borders, entitlements, spiraling taxes, inflation, crime, terrible schools, high energy costs, and a foreign policy that results in national humiliation.
Massive illegal immigration is not just an issue with Hispanics. We forget that illegal immigration is increasingly a phenomenon of Arabs, Africans, and Asians. In other words, as illegal immigrants become both more diverse and arrive in greater in numbers, Hispanics will react as most Americans do—with worry over crime, the unequal application of the law, taxed social services, gangs, and difficulty in assimilation and integration, especially when Spanish-speaking arrivals tend to settle among established Hispanic populations.
Increasingly, the latter are now often solidly middle-class, often married to non-Hispanics, no longer Spanish-speaking, and have never been south of the border. As such, they are not eager to have Central American gang members in their suburban schools or crowded social services, or to have more worries about the unvaccinated in a time of viral mutations.
What will the Left do? It will not moderate, nor shift positions, in Bill Clinton style, to preserve its fracturing coalition. If Hispanic defections grow, the Left may well want a closed border, in 1990s Democratic Party-style. The Left is on the horns of a dilemma because of deliberately encouraging illegal immigration for short-term gain, while cognizant that it will likely boomerang in the long-term.
‘Karens,’ the Bi-coastal Nomenklatura, and the Obsessive-compulsive Left-wing Scolds
As Hispanics slowly shed their prior lockstep ethnic allegiances, and indeed are increasingly not always self-identified as Hispanics, they will also develop greater class affinities—and perhaps join disenchanted, white, working-class voters who increasingly have abandoned the self-serving elitism of the Democratic Party. And just as the working-class chumps and dregs have contempt for the condescending wonks and country-club grandees of the old Republican Party, so Hispanics may likely sour on leftist professional minorities who emulate the elitism of the white woke classes.
Political affiliations are never based entirely on economics, foreign policy, crime, or cultural issues. The spirit and the mood of people and policies matter as well.
Over the last 30 years, the elite of the Democratic Party increasingly has been composed of the upscale, largely white, incestuous professional political classes, the permanent government bureaucracy, celebrities, the proudly college educated, advanced-degreed professionals, the upper-upper bicoastal nomenklatura and, of course, the tech, media, and Wall Street billionaires and oligarchs, and their loud dependents.
We know them in popular culture from their caricatures and stereotypes as pampered leftist politicians like Gavin Newsom; the clueless and smug, but poorly educated woke journalists; the anal-retentive Karens who scream at the non-mask wearers outdoors; the nasal toned, recent university graduate experts who drone on about all the radical changes we must suffer as these 30-somethings sermonize to us about everything from climate change to recycling spoiled food; the academics who warp research in careerist fashion to reach predetermined correct conclusions; the snotty sports writers; the corrupt media “fact checkers”; the self-anointed masters of the universe like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg; and the lifelong bureaucrats such as the Brennans, the Clappers, the Comeys, the Faucis, and the Milleys.
All these mostly white left-wing elites have one thing in common: they come off as self-serving, neurotic, condescending, egotistical, and supercilious. They scold the middle classes with poorly disguised contempt. And they feel exempt by their titles, degrees, their money, or their influence from the very mandates they impose on others. Whenever their elite minority counterparts on television, in the media, and in politics drone on about “white privilege, they expose their own unease with their white professional class counterparts, not with the white working classes they smear as deplorables and clingers but otherwise never see.
So lots of ascendent Hispanics do not particularly feel much in common with the presumptions of the estate-owning Pelosi, the hypocrisy of the French-Laundry-dining Newsom, or the talk-down nerdiness of a Silicon Valley grandee, who make it their business to let blacks, Hispanics, and all non-whites know just how lucky they are to have such progressive, enlightened godlike leaders, who can tell them what to think about climate change, third-trimester abortion, diversity/equity/and inclusion, transgenderism, and critical legal and racial theory.
This deskbound cadre lectures the self-made Hispanic landscaping contractor with 20 employees on how he should live and what he should think. These are the ones who scold the long-distance Hispanic trucker for consuming too much in fossil fuels and ensure that his newly acquired diesel rig will be obsolete in a few years. These seem to signal to the businesswoman—whose catalytic converter on her newly bought SUV was just stolen—that crime is no big deal, and criminals need not post bail, do time, or even be arrested.
These left-wing futurists and utopians who care little about the here and now for others less fortunate eventually inspire visceral dislike among members of the middle class of all races and ethnicities. This turn-off follows the earlier white defections from the Democratic Party of the 2000s and the beginning of black male souring on the Left—as well as the drift of the Republican Party away from its prior caricatured elitism to a receptive and more populist alternative.
In sum, sophisticated pollsters will no doubt discover all the wedge issues that are alienating Hispanics from Democrats. But one intangible that will not pop up and cannot be calibrated so easily by data is the arrogance, unlikability, and ineptness of the new left-wing bicoastal Democratic elite who demands unconditional fealty from those they “help” but with whom they otherwise have no desire to associate.