How President Bush will transform the world
By Bruce Walker
When President-Elect George W. Bush takes office in January of next year, he will be surrounded by men and women like Dick Cheney and Condeleeza Rice, who understand the military threat of China, the animus and capabilities of rogue states like North Korea and Iraq, the nuances of European democracies, the promise and the danger of the New Russia, and the religious and ethnic tensions in the Indian subcontinent. Our next president, whose father was one of the most expert men in American history on these vital subjects, can be expected to listen and heed the advice and insight of this wisdom and experience. During the second presidential debate, he displayed the confidence needed to handle crises effectively.
But it is not across oceans, however, where President-Elect Bush can best use his office and his gifts to transform the world. It is directly south: Mexico. We conservatives have yet to fully comprehend the monumental importance of the election of Vicente Fox and the landslide triumphant of his conservative political party. Consider: For the first time in the history of our two nations, we have a working democracy in Mexico with leadership that likes and appreciates the values of our Republic. These two vast nations, whose history has long been checkered with condescension by Americans and resentment by Mexicans, will soon have presidents who speak both Spanish and English, and who are both inspired by the optimism that freedom works.
The last five elected Republican presidents -- Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr., and now Bush Jr. -- have called home those two great states that border Mexico: Texas and California. President-Elect Bush's nephew is a handsome, bright, and articulate Mexican-American. Our incoming president also understands the concept of respect -- genuine, heartfelt respect -- that is essential to making Mexico and the United States friendly partners.
Our next president also shares with Hispanics two deep loves: God and Family. Conservatives have often noted that Hispanics are "natural" conservatives whose cultural values are much more in tune with Ronald Reagan than Bill Clinton. No American president, even the wonderful Gipper, so perfectly understands and so perfectly responds to all the good and decent values of Hispanic culture.
Our nation has long had friendly relations with Canada. We stood shoulder to shoulder with Canadians and Canadiens during two hot world wars and one Cold War. The critical importance of Canada to American history is, unfortunately, simply taken for granted (we all look at Canada rather like liberals look at Nebraska, Utah, and Alabama -- flyover country).
Mexico -- for Mexicans, for Americans, and for the world -- is one of the great lost opportunities of our times. Mexico has over one third of our population and one third of our size. If its economy operated at the same level of per capita GDP as our economy, then Mexico would have the fourth largest economy in the world, after only America, China, and Japan. In a few years, given demographic trends, it would be the third largest economy in the world. That is a breathtaking prospect, and there is no reason why it cannot become a reality.
The geopolitical impact of a rich, powerful, friendly Mexico to our south is hard to overstate. One natural consequence would be a rippling through all of Latin America, and the eventual transformation of Western Hemisphere into the economic juggernaut of the world, but without the divisions that plague the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Africa, and the remnants of the Russian Empire. We Americans -- North Americans and South Americans -- also share an attitude that can best be described as "good natured." Combine great influence with good will, and a Pax Americana (or Pax Americano) may be extended into the indefinite future.
A richer Mexico also means a richer United States. Immigration and emigration would occur as a matter of personal preference, not the dictates of economic distress. Our border with Mexico could become as nominal as our border with Canada. We might all need to learn more Spanish (but remember that Swiss, one of the richest people in the world, must be fluent in three languages and our friends to the north conversant in two languages), and we will have a generation to add a few years of Spanish as a school requirement.
Finally, the impact on American politics is equally far-reaching. Cubans are conservative Republicans, by and large, but Mexicans have tended to be liberal Democrats. The Hispanic community as a whole is our fastest growing block of citizens, and the influence of Hispanics upon California, Texas, and Florida will soon be decisive. Ethnic groups that feel "outside" American society have gravitated first towards Democrats -- Italians and Irish are the two most conspicuous examples. But as these peoples enter the middle class and the mainstream, they cease the paternalistic "protection" that Tammany Hall or Washington offers and they move towards cultures of self-reliance and policies of individualism.
We sometimes forget -- it is easy to do -- that the Italians, Poles, Jews, Greeks, and Irish who crossed the Atlantic were the best: the risk-takers, the hardy, the optimistic, the faithful, and the hard-working. Much the same can be said for Mexicans who enter the United States today. They are people who bus tables and pick fruit and put roofs on our homes so that their children can have a happier future. These are not the sort of people who relish a stagnant, regulated society.
President George W. Bush knows all this. He knows the opportunity to transform two nations for the better. And he sees the window of opportunity. So if our next president seems to be appearing on a lot of talk shows in Mexico City or making lots of trips that sound more like stump speeches throughout our neighbor across the Rio Grande, he knows exactly what he is doing.
Bruce Walker is a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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