By: John C. Wohlstetter, Senior Fellow
Less than a month before last year’s presidential election, I wrote in href="https://spectator.org/mob-revolution-riots/" >an American Spectator article about a “Collapsing Building Rule”:
Moments before a building pancakes due to internal structural failure, it looks to the observer as solid as the day it was completed. And when it starts to pancake, there are but seconds before the falling mass accelerates to unstoppable velocity.
In the summer of 1984 I visited Berlin, then still divided. What had been barbed wire in August 1961 had become, 23 years later, mile upon mile of massive wall. Guard towers were everywhere. But there was no sense of danger; my visit was uneventful. Yet a year later, the East German Volkspolizei — “people’s police” — shot and killed Col. Arthur Nicholson, firing across the dividing line. The Wall looked as if it could stand for a thousand years. It divided the immensely prosperous West Berlin from the shuttered, ramshackle East Berlin. But outwardly, East Germany seemed rock stable.
Then came the summer of annus mirabilus 1989, when a fresh exodus from Eastern Europe began, the largest since 1961. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decided not to do what all his predecessors would have done: use force to keep the Evil Empire together. One Soviet spokesman, asked by a Western journalist what has going on, said that the Soviets had adopted the “Frank Sinatra ‘My Way’ doctrine.” Even a change to a harder line German leader, in October, proved to no avail. And on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was toppled. Then came three days in August 1991, when the Soviet Old Guard made its last stand, with a coup against Gorbachev. But Boris Yeltsin led citizens to Red Square and successfully got Army units to back his move. The plotters were arrested, Gorbachev retired, and for a decade Russia was a democracy. In two blinks of the eye, 75 years of Soviet tyranny were tossed away. But now Vladimir Putin has ended democracy in favor of kleptocratic oligarchy. Vlad the Bad rules like a 19th-century Tsar, complete with a cult of quasi-royal personality.
The frightening reality is that modern societies, for all their massive wealth, immense infrastructures, and global reach, are endemically fragile to myriad sources of great disruption. A pandemic unleashed by China that shut down Western economies for months; our police getting embroiled in racially charged shootings that sparked massive urban riots; the all-out revolution pushed by hard-left radicals have collectively brought America to its knees. Seemingly solid and secure as a newly erected structure as 2020 began, only eight months later America’s foundation cracks. One decisive shock can initiate the building pancake sequence. And one likely is on the way.
The upcoming presidential vote, unless one ticket decisively wins, could cause our rickety election machinery to collapse, with no final verdict for weeks, perhaps months, and with whoever wins discredited in the eyes of half of America’s voters. Two polls taken last week show that voters are keenly aware of post-vote perils: one poll found 56 percent fearing mass violence; the other found 61 percent fearing a civil war. The republic itself then might rapidly descend into multiple sanctuary regions, de facto secession, or even full-bore civil war.
A scant eight months later, it seems that the societal edifice of America is in pancake-style free fall. Recall, per Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, et al., that the weight of such a mass increases arithmetically, but the descending velocity of a gravitationally falling mass increases exponentially — a square factor.
Driving this wave is a tectonic policy consequence of the 2020 election result: a massive influx of illegal aliens crossing America’s southwestern border (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). In effect, they collectively represent a veritable mega-tsunami of demographic change, which, if unchecked, will irrevocably transform America into a socialist republic. It has created what now even President Joe Biden calls a “crisis” at America’s southwestern border.
Crisis indeed: March alone saw 172,000 migrants apprehended at the border, a number the president of the National Border Patrol Council called “the biggest surge that we’ve ever seen in the history of the Border Patrol.” A recent Pew poll shows that respondents considering illegal immigration inflow to be “a very big problem” jumped from 28 percent in June 2020 to 48 percent in April 2021. Republicans agreeing with this view rose during this 10-month period from 43 to 72 percent; Democrats agreeing nearly doubled, from 15 to 29 percent.
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Yet Biden caved instantly to his radical-left base on the number of annual refugee admissions. Having promised to raise the Trump administration’s 15,000 ceiling to 125,000, Biden then decided to accept the Trump number. When radicals screamed, he retreated to a midway goal of 62,500, a figure his own press secretary termed optimistic. His reason for caving is clear.
A recent Tucker Carlson segment detailed the 35-year history of alien influx and its impact on American voting. The story began after passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act — known as Simpson-Mazzoli after its co-sponsors, Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson and Kentucky Democrat Rep. Romano Mazzoli. That law, signed by then-President Ronald Reagan, received widespread bipartisan support; it provided illegal migrants with amnesty and a path to legal citizenship and enabled sanctions on employers who hired illegal migrants. Three million migrants, mostly Hispanic, got to stay; the employers were never hit with meaningful sanctions, even as the floodgates opened. A 2016 Yale study concluded that the real illegal immigration population number is 16 to 30 million, versus the 11 million number generally cited.
The electoral impact of this change was felt almost immediately. California had been a Republican mainstay in elections, but in 1988 George H. W. Bush narrowly carried the state. Since 1988, no Republican presidential candidate has carried California. The Golden State had 47 electoral votes that year. After the 1990, 2000, and 2010 decennial reapportionments, its electoral vote total had risen to 55 — just over 10 percent of the Electoral College. Further, the counties that remain bastions of GOP votes are those with the fewest southwest border immigrants; conversely, those with heavy representation vote Democratic.
National Review’s Rich Lowry recently explained at length how the Trump administration finally got control over the southwestern border. In summary, unable to pass legislation, and often stymied by left-wing judges, Trump officials combed the statutes passed and regulations adopted in the 1990s and early 2000s, often with large bipartisan support. They implemented a series of reforms that by early 2020 had reduced migrant flow from 5,000 per day to 1,000.
Fox Nation host Lara Logan, who has conducted extensive field reporting on the cartels and their operations on both sides of the border, said U.S. taxpayer dollars are funding cartel operations inside the U.S., including sex trafficking. Logan said children brought into the U.S. by traffickers are “trained to say ‘I am coming to go to school’ or ‘for a better life.’ ” Then they are shuttled around the country working for the cartels. A shocking video shows a smuggler dropping a two-year old over an 18-foot barrier at the California–Mexico border.
Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller detailed how Biden–Harris administration policies in the “vast majority of cases” are contrary to those adopted by its four immediate predecessors — Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and Trump. Lawsuits aimed at halting the Biden policy of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) releasing detainees with criminal records will cost thousands of American lives if not restrained by the courts or changed by legislation. Miller added that the new administration seeks not to use democratic debate to win support for policies but rather exploits a temporary razor-thin majority to seek fundamental structural change that will lock in Democratic political — and, hence, future policy — dominance.
Charlie Kirk told Judge Jeanine Pirro that Democrats are moving the “Overton window” — the concept that small moves on the political spectrum can result in large shifts in policy outcomes. Here, the administration is subsidizing illegal migrants with benefits of up to $15,000.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained how his state is suing the administration over its refusal to continue ICE detention and deportation policies embraced by prior administrations. Until now, ICE detained illegal migrants and turned them over to law enforcement for prosecution. Upon conviction and sentence completion, ICE deported them back to their home countries. DeSantis added that illegal migrants are getting on airlines sans ID or COVID testing, while blue states support “vaccine passports” for lawful residents — even to enter business premises. Aliens released into the country often gravitate towards “sanctuary cities” that will offer protection and policy favoritism.
Carlson carefully explained the significance of this incoming wave: as foreign migrants swell state voter rolls, the votes of those already there are diluted by the influx. Ironically, not only white voters have seen their votes diluted by the Hispanic wave; black voters have also seen their influence decline. When a state is one-party, those on the short end have zero ability to choose leaders who reflect their views and aspirations.
Foreign migrants being brought in to border states mostly by Democrats substitute for the task of persuading voters on the issues. Simply import millions to change border-state demographics, and soon states are flipped from red to purple, then to blue. California now is reliably Democrat for the foreseeable future.
The consequences for the state considered a veritable paradise during the first 40 or so years after the end of World War II — economically prosperous, culturally rich, and blessed with fabulous weather — have been catastrophic. In 1986, California was the richest state in America and one of the most prosperous garden spots on the planet. By 2020, the Golden State’s fortunes had sunk to the point that it had the highest poverty rate in the country.
Democrats have openly championed this strategy of importing change. Vice President Kamala Harris, when sitting in the Senate, attacked President Trump for deporting illegal migrants. Back in 2000, then-President Bill Clinton had no problem ordering a no-knock pre-dawn raid to snatch Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint. This was done despite the boy’s mother having sacrificed her life crossing the Caribbean in a tiny craft in search of freedom. Elian, then 6 years old, was returned to Cuba at Fidel Castro’s behest. (To cover his tracks, Castro directed the boy’s absentee father to publicly call for Elian’s repatriation.)
This all differs from domestic interstate migration, a constant flow that alters the balance of votes in states. Domestic migration shifts votes from one state to another; freedom of travel is protected by the Constitution.
Thus, on the right coast, Vermont was reliably GOP until 1992; then migration of Democrats from New York to Vermont made it a solid Democratic state. New Hampshire, once rock-ribbed Republican, was shifted to the Democratic column by Democrats migrating from Massachusetts. These, as noted above, are cases of legitimate internal interstate migration. As Carlson noted, were strongly Republican Polish immigrants flooding from Mexico into blue states, the administration instantly would have resumed southwestern border wall construction.
Private groups have joined in the attack on critics of the Biden–Harris illegal migrant policies. Among them, hard to credit, is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization founded to fight discrimination against Jews. The ADL jumped in with both feet. In a letter to Fox News, the ADL accused Carlson of being a “white supremacist” — one of the standard tropes today’s leftists use to attack statements by white conservatives.
The ADL has been not-so-strangely silent when leftist Democrats have discriminated against Jews (such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s use of COVID lockdown orders to close down gatherings of Orthodox Jews, while ignoring similar religious and secular group gatherings), accused Jews of disloyalty (Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s “It’s all about the ‘Benjamins,’ baby”), and cavorted with known Jew-haters (California Rep. Maxine Waters meeting with Louis Farrakhan, who notoriously has called Judaism a “gutter religion” and praised Adolf Hitler).
Another charge in the ADL letter was that Carlson had attacked billionaire financier George Soros. What makes the ADL’s defense disturbing is that Soros, a Hungarian Jew, admitted in a 1998 CBS 60 Minutes interview that at age 14 he had informed on Jews hiding property from the Nazis. Incredibly, Soros defended his actions on the air, without apology.
The mess at the southwest border has attracted wide public notice, much of it strongly unfavorable. It’s not hard to see why Americans are appalled by the spectacle: children dropped over fences onto the desert; others wandering round alone, hungry, and scared; others drowning in the Rio Grande after their “coyote” shepherds shoved them off rafts so that the smugglers need not set foot on American soil and risk arrest; others crowded like sardines into unsanitary facilities. In one case, 4,100 children were crammed into a facility designed to hold 250. Children — and adults — entered without being screened for COVID or other diseases. And then migrants, after promising to appear for an immigration status hearing, disappeared en masse into the vast American interior.
Some governors, such as Kristi Noem of South Dakota, have pledged that their states will not accept illegal migrants sent into their state in this clandestine fashion. Rising Democratic star Rep. Joaquin Castro, formerly mayor of San Antonio, calls for reinstating such pre-Trump “catch-and-release” policies. These would swamp his home state with illegal migrants, who as noted earlier can be counted on to lean heavily Democratic. In such event, Texas could turn purple and, eventually, blue.
On top of all this, some three weeks after being put in charge, Vice President Harris has yet to visit the border and has no plans to do so.
Whether or not the Democrats will succeed with this latest strategy depends critically on the outcome of the 2022 and 2024 elections. If Democrats lose control of Congress in 2022 and also the White House in 2024, they will rue the day they opened the border. If Democrats win in 2022 and 2024, the American societal edifice will pancake, implode, and release destructive forces that will erase America as we have known it.
John Wohlstetter is author of Sleepwalking With the Bomb (Discovery Institute Press, second edition 2014).