The Brookings Institute has come out with an analysis of the Census Bureau’s latest demographic estimates and finds among Generation Z (those darn kids) whites are a minority among those aged 0-9. Among the entire population the white population dropped for the first time ever in 2016 and this continued in 2017. The total population grew due to immigration and minority birth-rates.
One does not have to strain their ears to here the champagne corks popping among Democratic circles. Per Brookings, “These populations (minorities) increased by 4.7 million in the two years that the white population declined, including gains of 2.4 million among Hispanics, 1.1 million among Asians, and 1.2 million among all other races according to the new estimates.” Whew, I am relieved.
Elections, especially national elections, are decided by the thinnest of margins. If a few more blacks in urban Milwaukee, Detroit and Philly had voted Clinton would be President. Ditto if a few whites had not done so in those same states.
Considering US elections are extremely polarized around race (see the disparity between white voting and minority voting) it is hard not to imagine Democrats celebrating the news the white population is shrinking. But, as written about here there are questions about whether this will continue.
First-off, trends change on a continual basis. For example, for most of the first decade of the 21st century net migration in the country was double what it currently is today. The change? Increased policing of the border and deportations. In case you are wondering this means fewer illegals can have children in the US.
Another example perhaps? Net migration into the United States since the 90s has been fueled by immigrants lacking immediate skills who were able to get in due to having family in the US. In recent years net migration has been fueled by skilled labor from places like Ghana and Asian nations. It is hard to not imagine these immigrants have different views than say those immigrants lacking immediate job-ready and marketable skills.
In turn, this feeds into the process of how exactly these immigrants become engaged in the political process. Democrats believe these immigrants will fall in line with other “aggrieved” minorities. But, what if they don’t?
For example, among the Asian community, despite being strongly majority Democratic since the 90’s, there is a sharp political split among Korean Asian Americans and Philippino Asian Americans. Likewise, among more established Asian communities there is widespread opposition to Affirmative Action policies limiting the number of Asian applicants into elite US colleges. How positively conservative of them.
How about Hispanics then? It is true 1st generation Hispanics tend to settle in largely Hispanic areas and marry other Hispanics (Asians are really the only demographic group to see their 1st generation marry outside their racial group) but 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics intermarry often and there is data among sociologists these households tend to mimic long-time natives of the US’s political behaviors. Hence, why New Mexico’s 2nd CD which borders Mexico, can be majority-Hispanic and still vote for the Republican nominee for President since 2000. Among younger Hispanics (read Gen Z Hispanics), they are just as likely to identify as white as non-white.
This leads to an interesting possibility where in a minority white US the majority does not define itself as minority. Rather, they define themselves as something else. Indeed, the proliferation of immigrants marrying non-immigrants, Asians marrying whites, fewer Hispanics identifying as Hispanic indicates America is becoming ever more a melting pot.
This means in 20 years the politics of today might be irrelevant. In fact, it is very easy to see new political lines being formed along class and ethnicity vs race and urban/suburban.
Might this explain why Trump’s administration wants to limit immigration? Certainly. Immigration has long allowed immigrants “like natives” to enter the US. It is what drove white population growth in the 70’s and 80’s as European immigration rose to new highs. The opposite occurred in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Now, it might be different asimmigrants are entering the US but instead of looking like natives they have the same skills and ability to succeed.
Of course, this is all theoretical. As already shown above, trends can change rapidly. Just look at what is happening in America’s secondary education system. Fewer kids are opting to go to college meaning these institutions are spending more and working and harder for a smaller return.
This is partly fed by declining fertility rates (a trend that has grown since the 70’s), the Great Recession, and fewer Millennials being able to fully enter the workforce and build up assets. But, considering pre-2008, most analysts said the share of the US population that was college educated had nowhere to go but up tells us just how well we can predict long-term trends.
All this is to say the America we think might see in 30 years might look dramatically different than we think today. Perhaps the Left should be mindful of this and realize this. Already, some on the left have started advocating for something other than identity politics. Especially since it bred support for Trump.
In the Blue Wall states in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump’s margins were only achieved by his increase in the black vote compared to Romney in 2012. Considering Trump’s campaign was based on class and policy issues such as immigration (Democrats read this as racism) it is not hard to see Trump peeling off some conservative blacks who might like the idea of an America full of industrial jobs and fewer immigrant competitors for low-wage jobs.
It is fairly easy then to see our expectations often never become reality. Consider in the span of three years following Obama’s reelection and the GOP believing it had to reach out to women and minorities with a more moderate message the party won the Senate and expanded its House majorities and then elected a President running on a pretty anti-immigration message.
So, it might be true American will be minority-white, majority-minority or whatever you would like to call it in the future. Just don’t expect me to believe you when you say you can predict what this means for American politics or the socio-cultural fabric of the nation. We have already seen many examples of America’s unique melting pot surprising expectations. It is safe to say this will continue into the future.