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Francis Wilkinson

Jeb Bush's Risky War on Nativist GOP

He epitomizes the polyglot America that conservatives fear.
The distance is growing.

The distance is growing.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nativism is ascendant in the Republican Party. Donald Trump rose to the top of presidential primary polls after his attacks on Mexicans. His support increased when he proposed deporting millions of Hispanic undocumented immigrants. Ben Carson, adding to an already impressive list of daffy prescriptions, suggested last weekend that Muslims should be barred from the presidency despite the Constitution's unambiguous decree that the office is not subject to a religious test.

Trump, Carson and others appealing to the insecurities of conservatives promise to "take back America" in part by turning back the great cultural tide of recent decades. Heavy immigration has muddied American demographics, and the changes appear irreversible due to relatively high birth rates among Hispanics and rising rates of interracial marriage. For some, the result is an anxious Babel -- "This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish," Trump declared at last week's CNN debate.