How Trumpism hid in plain sight for 15 years

During the Bush years, a diverse group of right-leaning writers and thinkers began sounding an alarm about what mass immigration meant for the rest of the country. Many of them emerged from California, exactly where migration’s transformational effects were first known. They remembered the 1960s and ’70s version of the state, when it seemed like an egalitarian and middle-class utopia, each family in a pleasant bungalow and a school system that was the envy of the world. This paradise was upended by mass immigration and galloping inequalities. And its inheritors were hungry for someone, anyone, to put into words what they were feeling.

Along came Victor David Hanson and his 2003 book Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, which posited that Mexicans fled the dysfunctional statism of Mexico but ended up recreating it in California. Another California writer, Steve Sailer, wrote blog items and articles that seemed to exercise a kind of subliminal influence across much of the right in that decade. One could detect his influence even in the places where his controversial writing on race was decidedly unwelcome. Another Californian writer, Mickey Kaus became one of the few centrist to liberal-leaning opponents of lax immigration…

The truth was, the great wave of migration America experienced from the early ’90s to the middle of last decade was a history-shaping event with long-term consequences. But because it was hardly debated by official Washington, the passions it generated tended to find sensationalistic or conspiratorial outlets.