The appeal of Trump: Why immigration may be the defining issue of the 21st century

Because most media members are on the center-left and attached to cosmopolitan interests, they view anxiety about immigration as an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. That considerably oversimplifies the matter. The insurgent, anti-immigrant “right-wing” European parties steal considerable numbers of their voters from traditionally left-wing voting blocs. Often these parties are indifferent to throne-and-altar Christianity. They cast themselves as defenders of secularism against left-wing-enabled Islamization of European ghettos. Sometimes they cast themselves as the saviors of the European welfare state, against a globalist elite that likes immigration and looks down on the imagined laziness and inflexibility of struggling native workforces. The rich (on left and right) in the West are formed by the half-correct perception: “I’m working 80-hour weeks, and these (less valuable) people want union-style work rules?”

The divide is not just between voters who are vulnerable to economic and cultural competition and the political class that enjoys cheap labor. It will also pit the developing world against the developed world. 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. Those nations may begin to see their investments in education as an indirect subsidy to nations much richer than their own. Poorer nations will not just compete, but may fight, to retain their best and brightest citizens and subjects. China is already the world leader in internal migration controls.

If the old ideologies no longer make sense, it’s not a surprise that a GOP elite dominated by cosmopolitan, pro-immigration Wall Streeters is getting winded in its attempt to chase after the Republican base, which wants government hands off their Medicare and a few 30-foot walls along the Mexican border. Trump may turn out to be a blip in this election cycle. But some days Trumpism looks like the future.