In 2016, Donald Trump’s campaign brought Mexican rapists, “bad hombres,” and “build the wall” into mainstream political discourse. This time around the rhetoric has escalated further, no longer centered on a defensive wall alone but on an offensive campaign against Mexico, taking whatever form the feverish minds of the Republican primary contenders can come up with.
Scott promised to “unleash” the military against the cartels, Ramaswamy promised to "annihilate” them, and Haley pledged to lay down the law with the Mexican president by means of a “you do it or we do it” pledge. And lest this be seen as simply an attention-getting ruse by primary has-beens, front-runner Donald Trump has promised to “deploy all necessary military assets” to Mexico, including special forces, cyber warfare, and “other overt and covert actions.”
To pin the blame on Republicans alone for this turbocharged rhetoric would be a mistake. For although the GOP is the only party thumping the tub on invasion, Democrats have been in lockstep with them on virtually everything else - NAFTA, militarizing the border, deportations. And now Joe Biden, in a full-scale reversal of his 2021 proclamation, announced on October 5 that he would allow construction of the border wall in Texas to resume. Democrats in Congress have not pushed back on the GOP’s invasion rhetoric — at all — and they have consistently provided bipartisan cover to the incendiary assertions of their colleagues across the aisle.
And then there is the media. From Time’s placing of Mexico on its 2019 list of “biggest geopolitical risks” to a US-funded London think tank dubbing AMLO the “tyrant of the year” for 2022, coverage of the president’s five years in power by establishment media and its allies in the NGO-sphere has been hysterical, mendacious, patronizing, and ignorant. This nonstop media carpet bombing has set the culture necessary for the GOP’s ideas to mutate from far-fetched to plausible — so much so that something that would have sounded absurd only a few years ago is now a highly touted part of the platform of the likely Republican candidate.
In the (still unlikely) event that the physical bombs do begin to rain down, legacy media will be the first to denounce the Republicans, secure in the knowledge that this will be more than enough to drown out the role they played in allowing it to happen. For the Mexican and US publics, however, the horror would just be beginning.