Assimilation Is a Challenge

Cuban exile scholar Jose Azel highlights the difficulties in getting Latin voters to support smaller government:

The sociopolitical heritage from Spain and the post colonial experience of Latin America has engendered in the Hispanic-American population an understanding of the role of government significantly different from the principles of limited government and imprescriptible rights embraced by the Founding Fathers. Thus classical liberalism, or libertarianism in the contemporary American coinage, does not come naturally to Hispanics.

In a recent American National Elections Study, in answer to the question: “Which of these two statements comes closer to your opinion, (1) The less government the better, or (2) there are more things the government should be doing;” 47.4 percent of the white non-Hispanic population responded “the less government the better.” In contrast, only 17.9 percent of Hispanics responded similarly. . . .

Capitalism is rationalistic, anti-heroic and anti-mystical. Free markets, with all their warts, are the economic system of free people. In the Hispanic electorate, if we peel off most arguments against the free market, an intellectual discomfort with freedom itself is revealed. That is truly unfortunate because the only enduring foundation for improving the human condition is liberty.

Collectivist political attitudes are obviously not unique to Hispanics, nor are Hispanic immigrants and their descendants doomed to cling to such retrograde views forever. But assimilation, especially in matters like this, is hard, it takes time, and it’s more likely to succeed when the newcomer population is small compared to the host population. Anyone who thinks the cause of smaller government can survive continued mass immigration is fooling himself. As John O’Sullivan reminds us, Republicans can either change their policies on immigration, or change their policies on everything else.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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