There are two major issues that are driving nationalism and the rise of Donald Trump. The first issue is the loss of jobs that many blame on trade agreements. The second, and I believe the more dangerous, is the fear of the Spanish language and Mexican culture in the United States. Some have equated it to “white nationalism.” In some ways it is, but the true underlining driving force is the fear of Spanish in many parts of the country as well as the rise of Mexican-centric culture in the US.
The problem is that both issues – jobs and Mexicanism are blamed on the immigrants, who because of their inability or unwillingness to vote are easy scapegoats for the nationalists. Like all scapegoating and finger pointing, it misses the true cause entirely.
Speaking Spanish in the United States is not driven by Mexican immigrants, nor Latin American ones, for that matter. It is driven by US citizens and voters who have the right to insist on their own public policy agenda.
That’s right, the issue of Spanish and Mexicanism in America is driven by legal US citizens who have rightfully asserted their voices on the political landscape.
The simple reality that nationalists want you to ignore is that Spanish has been spoken in the clear majority of the United States since the country was first founded. Yes, you read that right, Spanish has been part of the US since its founding. You just need to look at the map of the United States and see how Spanish dominated the country as the country expanded westward from the original thirteen colonies.
Just like Spanish, the Mexican culture has been a part of the United States as well. It was Mexicans who lived in the communities that were absorbed by the country’s westward expansion. None of this is new but self-identity has started to assert itself on a community that for centuries has viewed itself as the minority in a “white” dominated society. This rise of self-identity has given rise to the fear of change that has taken over the minority that used to be the ruling class, or the white nationalists.
That fear, the fear of Spanish and Mexicanism is what is driving today’s immigration demonizing and Mexico bashing emanating from the nativists who are hoping that they can hold on to power just a little longer.