Or, “Most Self Indulgent Post So Far.”
Changes in work, life and a myriad of other issues have kept my pen from producing as much as it used to (also I’ve been writing at other places such as The North American Anglican and Madison’s CPC). So, for now, I give you a list of the most popular posts of 2016, as rated by which were shared and read the most.
1. Thoughts On Hispanic Identity: Are We Becoming White?
This remains by far the most popular piece I’ve written, which is interesting as it was one of the first pieces on here. I also find this popularity fascinating as the majority of my audience tends to be conservative and (my guess is) white. So much of 2016 has been spent on a resurgent white identity politics, so I guess it makes sense that a piece focusing on the resiliency of “white American” identity vis a vis Hispanic immigration would be the most widely read essay on here, even a year later.
Now once I state this sentiment, two very interesting, diametrically opposed camps begin to freak out: Chicano studies majors and white nationalists.
For the latter, the notion that the children or grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants could be the future inheritors of the Western tradition is genuinely terrifying. What good are they, then? Is their “white race” really some delicate snowflake that must be preserved from scary immigrants and dusky heathens if said heathen’s descendants end up quoting Burke and memorizing Ovid? In their minds, not only do they scoff at such an idea, but such a future makes them obsolete. In a world where Hispanics can embrace and fully identify with the Anglo-American tradition and Western civilization, there is no special use for white nationalists/supremacists. A truce was made in the clash of civilizations and no one told them, like a demographic Battle of New Orleans.
2. Donald & Arnold: Profiles in Political Mendacity
I am not surprised a Trumpian post also ranked high on the popularity scale for this year. For better and for worse, he has totally dominated the political landscape and now, like the proverbial dog and car, has gotten himself elected the president of the United States. During the primary I wrote a piece comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump’s positions, career and political style. My prediction is (though with all modesty we all know how well that went) he will be a national version of Arnold: faux-macho, blustery and will cave in order to garner popularity. His position is different as he faces at least 2 years of a very GOP controlled Congress, but I doubt he will have the discipline to really stick to his guns (such as they are). To whit:
Do you honest to goodness believe that a guy like that, a guy who steals homes from old ladies, who tries to litigate middle class people to death so they move out of the way of his golf courses for the rich, a guy who is a serial adulterer, who changes his political opinion more times than most people change clothes, will really care about you once he gets power? That he won’t ditch you the second Congress fights him on immigration? Upon realizing how utterly difficult it is to repeal every single major trade agreement we’ve signed since the Eisenhower era? Once his popularity takes a dive? Once he has a bad midterm election?
Before you answer that question, ask the average California Republican what they think of Governor Schwarzenegger.
If you don’t see Trump as the con man, then you’re the mark.
This is another curious holdout from 2015. My guess is the collapse of Conservatism Inc. has propelled wider discussions about society, the role of limited government and to which extent society can regulate societal institutions. Or maybe “On Polygamy” is just a sexy title, who knows? Main gem:
Polygamy fails the social utility test in a number of ways. First of all, it creates more poverty by how it arranges families and in particular, their wealth. The Croatian Medical Journal in 2007 outlined out how polygamy not only creates more children than the average couple can usually look after… Furthermore within the culture examined (Sub-Saharan Africa), the particular polygamist culture creates more economic demands on the original family as it adds brides, leading to more poverty. In fact, religious institutions, both Christian and Islamic, as well as health authorities and governments have begun to prod populations away from polygamy, especially as it has been tied to an increase of STDs, in particular HIV. While in a more affluent American context, a new HIV/AIDS epidemic due to polygamy seems unlikely, it does seem likely that polygamy can create localized cultures of systemic poverty. For instance extreme poverty seems to be the norm in Mormon fundamentalist communities. While part of this has to do probably with their rural isolation, the most common factor seems to be children that simply cannot be provided for. For instance Mexican Mormon communities in Chihuahua became more prosperous after switching to monogamy. An American progressive could argue that the welfare state should and could look after these families but I doubt most find the argument that Americans should pay to subsidize someone else’s dysfunctional family arrangement quite convincing. Nor should they.
4. No, a Vote for a Third Party Candidate Isn’t a Vote for Hillary
This election cycle I declared my divorce from the GOP. My family has been reliably Republican since my great-granddaddy called Harry Truman “the devil.” Yet my mother’s white Appalachian/Midwestern middle class Protestant conservative family could not bring themselves to vote for Trump. (Interestingly enough, my dad’s Mexican family is largely apolitical but my “anchor baby” grandmother voted for Trump if she voted at all. Go figure.) They realized political parties are not ends unto themselves and should exist only as vehicles for actual principles. If the party in question doesn’t back your principles, find another. If none exists, abstention is itself a civic action. For instance;
[Y]es, you do have an obligation to your community. No, you don’t have an obligation to vote in a presidential election. Such logic only makes sense if we lived in an elective absolute monarchy. Despite the better efforts of Presidents Bush & Obama, the United States still remains a republic of sorts, specifically one where the power is divided somewhat equally between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Their federal power is furthermore limited by the authority of local and state governments. Your “civic duty” can be equally performed by voting in any of these other races. I for one don’t intend on voting Republican in any of my local down ticket because (beyond the fact they are DOA), the modern GOP organization is totally disillusioning. I do intend in voting in Long Beach local elections (for Eric Gray and against Mayor Garcia’s local measures). In addition your civic duty to your community can be likely equally met by donating your time, blood, money to various civic organizations, non-profits and charities. The notion that the center of communal and civic life is the state is a new and troubling one. Read some de Tocqueville, people.
5. The Refugee Crisis & Why America Is Different Series (Parts I & II)
The 2015 European refugee crisis captivated American political attention for as long as we short minded Americans could hang on. Due to the enormity of the chaos and the ease with which talking heads could make sloppy comparisons, it became a three word cautionary tale to anyone considering letting in any refugees ever. On instinct, I felt that these comparisons were inherently lazy. While I remain an immigration optimist due to the uniqueness of the American polity, I do feel that the European immigration situation is a sticky situation that has very few lessons for Americans, but should give pause to anyone who universally believes immigration to be a positive policy. Part III is should be coming soon.
In all, Europe and the United States face an extremely thorny issue. Along with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing misery and violence, there are questions of how best to act in the interests of the citizens of the countries these governments are elected to govern. How much are immigrants truly assimilating, and how, if at all, can we reproduce these successes? What difficulties are there and, how, if at all, can we mitigate them? Are Europe’s troubles likely to come to the United States and is that a reason to curtail immigration? Is America’s historic assimilation success really a blueprint for the EU? These are the questions I am hoping to settle (a bit) in the next two posts.
6. The Other September 11th: Chile
While I have yet to come back to academia, if I do I think I will pursue a focus on Latin American history/issues. The dominance of a liberal/leftist interpretation is so totally unchallenged that it is ladled out in American schools as gospel truth. Reading Latin American history you’d be shocked to know if anyone in Latin America ever disagreed on anything if it weren’t for those perfidious elites and their Yanqui masters. A major data point in this theory is the one sided view of the 1973 coup in Chile. While held up as an example of the evil CIA destroying a beautiful paradise of Latin democracy, in reality the truth could not be further away. It’s amazing how people who screech the loudest about a Eurocentric view of the world themselves are inoculated from any view that is not safely within the American leftist ideology.
A Chile left to Allende would’ve ended in a poorer, more violent, and more broken society than one left with 15 year rule by Pinochet. History isn’t as simple as we’d like and it isn’t some morality play. Americans are often under the impression that Latin Americans are are all Chomskyites, but when Pinochet died in 2006, some 60,000 people attended his funeral. As complicated and ugly as the story gets, September 11th, 1973 is not one of US perfidy and Marxist nobility. You may choose to “Never Forget” Chile but if so you owe it to yourself to know the full story.
California is every immigration restrictionist’s favorite data point for their “Immigration will be the death of conservatism” theory. While in Part II of the Refugee Crisis series, I delve into why the premises of the this thesis aren’t totally bunk, it assumes a lack of cultural resiliency on the part of the United States. Politically and otherwise it is immigrants who conform to the United States, not vice versa. California has long been the Union’s most liberal states and also is a major magnet for Mexican immigration. Throw in the fact California’s political scene is dominated by the Democratic Party, ergo “Them Mexicans gone done it.” In reality California has always been to the left of the nation, California’s Mexicans have a limited influence on California politics and promoting more anti-immigrant sentiment isn’t really a path forward.
California’s progressive movement wasn’t the scheme of some plotting dusky foreigners either. In fact both on a cultural and economic level, California’s progressives were overwhelming white and Protestant in origin. It wasn’t California’s early conservatives who pioneered the nativist movement. It was white progressives.
The strength and homegrown birth of California’s progressive movement meant that California’s has always had a larger, more expensive, more expansive government that favored whichever party embodied that most. California’s Republican past? A myth. California voted for Republicans who governed as moderates and had personal ties to California. The Republicans California sent to the governor’s mansion tended to be moderate if not outright progressive. The California Democratic Party has controlled the legislature, with extremely brief interruptions, since the days of Leave It to Beaver.