By Alan Bean
No matter how depressing present political realities may be, Democrats look to the future with confidence. By mid-century, they say, America will be a majority-minority nation and that can only help the left.
Jamelle Bouie questions this reasoning on two counts: Republicans could win back the most prosperous sector of the Latino community by returning to the moderate immigration policies of George W. Bush; and, as minorities are absorbed into the affluent mainstream, their resistance to conservative politics will diminish.
In other words, future trends can never be predicted with confidence, especially when we’re gazing 37 years down the road.
This “the future is ours” rhetoric should make genuine reformers cringe. We can’t get locked into the culture war categories of the present hour. Between 1950 and 1970, Democrats and Republicans switched sides on civil rights. It is hard to believe that the Republican Party on display during the primary election season could move to the left on anything; but stranger things have happened in American politics. If public sentiment shifts (as it always does) politicians will shift along with it. Reformers should be trying to nudge both parties in the direction of compassion and common sense, even when it feels silly. Life is full of surprises.
The worst thing that could happen would be for Democrats to eschew the hard work of rethinking the entire progressive narrative because “we are bound to start winning sooner or later”. Democrats have been on the wrong side of plenty of issues in recent memory (think the war on drugs, mass incarceration and the deregulation of the financial sector), and the blue team will continue to get things wrong if they misread the writing on the wall.
The tepid politics of triangulation has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Nothing in public life is inevitable. Change is always hard work. Justice demands courage. Patience is a virtue; complacency is not.
The Democrats’ Demographic Dreams
If Democrats agree on anything, it’s that they will eventually be on the winning side. The white Americans who tend to vote Republican are shrinking as a percentage of the population while the number of those who lean Democratic—African Americans and other minorities—is rapidly growing. Slightly more than half of American infants are now nonwhite. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 117 million people, and the vast majority—82 percent of the 117 million—will be immigrants or the children of immigrants. In a little more than 30 years, the U.S. will be a “majority-minority” country. By 2050, white Americans will no longer be a solid majority but the largest plurality, at 46 percent. African Americans will drop to 12 percent, while Asian Americans will make up 8 percent of the population. The number of Latinos will rise to nearly a third of all Americans. (more…)