The USA will be Minority White by Mid-Century

Census population projections as of March 2018 predict the whites will become a minority in the USA around 2045[1]. This issue has been raised (and buried) repeatedly within the Republican Party.

And that means we can take a short break from my droning on, and instead let the RNC drone on for a bit. The excerpts a few paragraphs down are taken from the document entitled the Growth and Opportunity Project but routinely referred to as the RNC-Autopsy of 2013, referring to Mitt Romney’s election loss and how the GOP could retake the presidency[2]

The RNC document is fairly frank, as these things. Most RNC documents read as little more than vague cheerleading exercises for the Republican ‘brand’[3] and endless generalizations of the Democrats’ dismantling of the American Dream.

The ‘RNC Autopsy’ (this became the report’s de-facto name) takes a fairly candid look at why and how Mitt Romney lost, as well as various ideological and logistic challenges for the party going forward. Most of these are fairly banal, despite their critical importance (fundraising, advertising strategies, etc.). The section that got the most play was the short Introduction to Messaging essay. I would recommend reading all of it. Briefly, it stressed that Democrats had won the popular vote in 4 of the last 6 elections (make that 5 out of 7 now) and that the Republican message was going largely unheard by large swaths of the populations, particularly by an economically stagnant middle class, those living in poverty (at last count over 40,000,000 people) and most minorities, especially younger ones.

This theme continued throughout the piece, including the following astonishing (for Republicans) tidbits:

We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years

One of the contributors to this problem is that while Democrats tend to talk about people, Republicans tend to talk about policy. Our ideas can sound distant and removed from people’s lives. Instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers

As Ada Fisher, the Republican National Committeewoman from North Carolina told us, “There are some people who need the government.”

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare

Honestly, most of this essay could have come from a Democrat candidate’s policy speech.

These plot points were followed by the America Looks Different section, which outlines what everyone knows: that the United States is becoming more Hispanic and less White (with a capital ‘W’). The words ‘ethnic’ and Hispanic are used interchangeably in this section. The sole obsession as of that writing was claiming more Hispanic voters: Blacks, Asians and any other ethnicities, minorities, ‘races’, etc. were ignored. This makes for realistic, if not especially admirable, policy: it is the Hispanic population that is growing dynamically and which frequently holds the balance of power in some western states.

As most anyone is aware the current administration has not worked very hard to implement these recommendations[4]. In fact, alienation and harassment of Hispanics has been one of the faces of the New Normal, and it has become an increasingly ugly face indeed.[5]

The Republicans, like anyone else whose business relates to politics or demographics, are keenly aware of this ongoing shift in the makeup of the populace. At this point in time it does not appear that actually adjusting policy or candidate makeup will be part of the strategy.[6]

Naturally, there is always the chance that the Republican party will modify its platform and policies to focus on demographic realities, focusing on outreach to Hispanic (and other ethnic) communities, revisiting soon-to-be dormant or dead affirmative action programs, make a conscious effort to field minority candidates, etc. And there is certainly a chance that the Hispanic community will wholeheartedly embrace the GOP in the future, forgiving the noxious and insulting attitudes towards minorities that define official federal (and Republican in general) policy at the moment.

There is also the chance that you are laughing too hard to continue reading. Let’s pause for a moment while the laughter dies down …

I believe the strategy will come from a different place, one that is already being implemented, and will continue to be to a much greater extent. Before getting too deeply into this lets return to yours and my favorite document: yes, the notorious RNC Autopsy.

One of the most interesting little digressions in the mea culpa i.e.’ we blew it with minorities and Millennials’ section is the assertion that the Republican party was a superstar on the state level; it was only national elections that were troublesome and needed a rethink. To wit:

Republican governors are America’s reformers in chief. They continue to deliver on conservative promises of reducing the size of government while making people’s lives better. They routinely win a much larger share of the minority vote than GOP presidential candidates, demonstrating an appeal that goes beyond the base of the Party.

It is time for Republicans on the federal level to learn from successful Republicans on the state level.

Well, OK. The nature of the reform and making ‘people’s lives better’ is certainly up for debate, as it mostly involves ongoing attempts to destroy trade unions, suppress minority voting and redistribute wealth upwards, but I am more concerned with the last sentence I quoted. [7]

It’s time to take a look at Texas (I promised we’d get there eventually, if you’re reading the footnotes), a state where whites are now a clear minority. Both Hispanics and Whites comprise roughly 40% of the population, with other ethnic groups (most notably African-Americans) making up the rest. [8] The Texas Demographic Center (a division of the U.S. Census Bureau) agrees with this estimate as well; the projections found there show the Hispanic population becoming the plurality ethnic group by 2024.[9]

Texas is the great Purple Pumpkin for the Democratic Party. Flip Texas and it is pretty much game over as far as national elections go.[10] Both California and Texas have similar demographics, and surprisingly Texas (with 23%) trails only New Mexico in the percentage of Latino legislators, with Arizona and California close behind.[11] Commendable as it seems, 23% is considerably less than the 40% Hispanic population of Texas.

To get the point, Texas is run by white people, the agenda is set by white people, and it’s always been this way. There is no need to get into the history of discrimination and suppression of Hispanics in Texas but suffice to say it has been an ugly and consistent part of its history. This has never really changed, and the Texas legislature is not only dominated by whites, but by exceptionally right-wing white Republicans.

There are several mechanisms available to promulgate (white) minority rule in Texas and the United States. In Texas, gerrymandering has been pursued to such an extreme extent that the city of Austin (by far the most Democratic and liberal area in the state) has been spread around 6 voting districts: five of them are held by Republicans and city residents are a minority in each one[12] The hyper-aggressive and racially-based gerrymandering has just been upheld by the Supreme Court[13]

In response to both the 2016 election and the ever starker ethnic divides in the United States, Texas has passed a number of laws targeting Hispanics. The most notorious is currently the “Sanctuary Cities” bill that allows anyone pulled over or detained to be asked (or would that be interrogated?) about their immigration status.[14] This is sadly in keeping with Texas’s shameful history of Latino harassment, but it must be noted that this kind of action comes with the explicit blessing of the Republican ruling class. This parallels the inhumane and counterproductive ICE policies currently on display at the California border.

There is now an excellent chance that the Supreme Court will have a majority for a very long time. After Trump’s appointment there will be a hardcore right wing majority in place, and by the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 years old. Thus, reversing the out of control gerrymandering seems unlikely in the near future, despite the clear violations of the Voting Rights Act. Oh, and speaking of the Voting Rights Act, it is gradually being diluted in any case. [15]

Ah, voting. The gerrymandering is an old and time-honored way to manipulate elections (and it should be noted that the Democrats do their share as well)[16]

A more recent entrant to the voting dilution challenge is Voter Fraud. According to various (entirely Republican) players, voter fraud is endemic and must be stopped. The president himself has claimed repeatedly that he won the popular vote but that “millions” of votes were cast illegally. Now of course, Donald Trump will lie about anything and everything, and this particular rant should be classified with any of the others, but it is an idea that has gained tremendous traction among the predictable factions. There are eight states that have now implemented more rigorous voter ID requirements, usually citing voter fraud, and generally citing between aero and one example as justification.[17]

Ending voter fraud is certainly not the goal these pillars of democratic values are aiming for. Any additional mechanisms to dilute or contain ‘ethnic’ (i.e. non-Republican) votes will be created and used. The justification is dead simple: the numbers do not favor Republicans in most cases. Thus, rigorous ID checks in selected (did someone say ethnic?) areas will depress not only voting but turnout. If Hispanic voters are ‘carefully’ checked up and down, back and forth for their adherence to every little detail of these new statutes, well, that will certainly slow down the process, wont it? You might have to wait in line for a while. And while you’re there, maybe some friendly Texas or ICE (or whoever else gets to enforce this stuff in the future) agents will ask for your bona fide citizenship credentials. Not exactly a recipe for increased minority voting activity.

Not to put too cynical a spin on it, but the United States is (rapidly in some cases, very slowly in others) evolving towards a neo-apartheid state, where a shrinking but empowered and moneyed minority will control a growing, economically stagnant majority. It has long been explicit Republican policy to enrich a tiny minority, usually masquerading as pro-growth tax policy.[18] While employment is at almost record levels today, middle class wages have been stagnant in real terms for 20 years or more.[19]

In the meantime the United States has developed into one of the most lopsided examples of wage inequality in the world.[20] This may be the marketplace in action according to GOP dogma but make no mistake: it is by careful and ongoing design.

Will the inevitable growth of non-white ethnicities (as well as Millennials and other disenfranchised groups who have been left out of the economic “boom”) result in a rearrangement of voting patterns and elected leaders. Or will the United States hurtle further towards an oligarchy[21] that, statistically, is already in place? I am not certain the answer to both can be yes. If I had to bet I would choose the latter.[22]

  1. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/14/the-us-will-become-minority-white-in-2045-census-projects/
  2. You can read the whole thing here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/624581-rnc-autopsy.html
  3. The most notorious is of course the Republican Platform every four years, with typical blather about American Exceptionalism, lots of freedom talk and of course scolding those bad Democrats. https://prod-cdn-static.gop.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf Looking back ironically (easy to do I know) this section of the introduction ‘Our standing in world affairs has declined significantly — our enemies no longer fear us and our friends no long trust us. People want and expect an America that is the most powerful and respected country on the face of the earth.’ seems especially mordant, considering Trump’s popularity worldwide compared to Obama’s (although esteemed statesmen Duterte and Modi seem to prefer Trump, in Modi’s case at least at first). The chapter entitled A Rebirth of Constitutional Government also offers excellent comedic elements.
  4. Call him what you will (and we like to here), Donald Trump is not a hypocrite. When the RNC Autopsy was released he was very harsh in his assessment: http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-gop-autopsy-report-2016-3
  5. There is no need to belabor this rather obvious fact – the images of children separated from parents at the border will surely becoming an enduring legacy of Trump’s ‘America First’ blather. It is also sad that the state of Texas, where nearly 40% of American citizens are of Hispanic descent, has continued to implement laws and policy that disenfranchise those ethnic groups, surely as at least a partial result of the 2016 election. More on Texas further down.
  6. You can see the notorious 2016 photo of Paul Ryan proudly posing with the incoming Republican interns here: http://college.usatoday.com/2016/07/18/internssowhite-paul-ryans-instagram-post-goes-viral/. There seem to be over 80 interns in the shot, every last one of them white (later scruitny revealed a single black women in the back)
  7. Although GOP gubernatorial policies as a whole are without the scope of this little essay, the recent experiment in Kansas shows how effective the ‘supply side’ idea is when you don’t have the ability to print money and your bond issues are not, shall we say, the most attractive available at the moment. https://www.npr.org/2017/10/25/560040131/as-trump-proposes-tax-cuts-kansas-deals-with-aftermath-of-experiment
  8. The 2010 census declares that Whites comprised 70.4% of the population of Texas. This is widely considered a fictitious number, and most sources from all sides point to there being roughly 1 million or so more whites than Hispanics in 2017. There is little debate any longer about whether whites are a minority in the state. https://www.statista.com/statistics/306044/texas-population-ethnicity-race/
  9. http://txsdc.utsa.edu/Data/TPEPP/Projections/
  10. The next domino to fall would be Florida, but that is a different discussion.
  11. New Mexico:37% , Texas:23% , Arizona: 21%, California: 19% http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/latino-legislators.aspx
  12. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/10/americas-future-is-texas This essay offers a good overview of the disconnect between the realities of Texas and the strange obsessions of its legislature.
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/us/politics/supreme-court-texas-gerrymandering.html
  14. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/05/03/texas-sanctuary-cities-bill-immigration-status-police/101268244/ Texas has no sanctuary cities, if you were wondering, but the ever vigilant legislature is thinking in ahead
  15. https://www.propublica.org/article/voting-rights-by-state-map
  16. http://election.princeton.edu/2012/12/30/gerrymanders-part-1-busting-the-both-sides-do-it-myth/ Many political scholars (far from all), consider the republicans far more egregious and extreme than the Democrats as this practice is currently constituted. See also https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/2/17173158/democrats-gerrymander-segregation
  17. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/states-push-new-voter-requirements-fueled-trump-n780611
  18. Government Regulatory Agencies are also popular for shifting resources upwards, both financially and in the form of decreased protections and safety nets for citizens they are ‘protecting’. There have been many studies and opinions of this. Start with a Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture and then perhaps go on to https://www.claremont.org/crb/article/our-corrupt-government/ Of course no regulation at all probably is no the answer either: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/only-government-intervention-can-stop-corrupt-capitalism/259687/
  19. There are several useful chats here: https://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/ This is not a radical viewpoint, and I could cite many more sources but this article and group of charts sums it up nicely.
  20. The US is actually fourth in the world among developed nations as of 2015, according to this article. The top five in income inequality also have the 5 highest poverty rates (the UK is number 6 in income inequality but number 13 in poverty rate, presumably due to a highly functional safety net) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/29/countries-rich-poor-gap_n_7471214.html
  21. And a little afterwordAs long as we’re veering off into election strategies, it must be noted that trade unions have been squarely in GOP sights for decades now (with occasional exceptions, such as certain Teamster factions). The unions represent a twin bogeyman: not only does collective bargaining (this battleground has shifted from the manufacturing sector to public employees in most cases) present a challenge to the hegemony of the Republican donor class, but concomitant with that, unions are instrumental in promoting democratic candidates and providing logistical support for Democratic voting efforts, from voter drives to candidate forums, even to the point of organizing transport for union members to polling places. The Supreme Court decision to overturn a law requiring non-union workers to pay fees applied toward collective bargaining has dealt a body blow to the union movement’s fundraising ability. See https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/27/politics/supreme-court-union-fees-decision/index.htmlThis is just the tip of the iceberg. Recent Koch Brothers efforts have explicitly gone towards “defunding the political left”. Yes, that would mean unions, most specifically government unions. Hey, that government money if for the donor class! The “defund the left” slogan has been around at least since the Reagan era. See also: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/30/rightwing-alliance-unions-defund-defang With the Supreme Court rubber- stamping any anti-union initiatives, these efforts will accelerate markedly.

    As a final sighing coda to the oligarchy theme, it must be noted that the primary engine of the growth and prosperity of the American middle class was the Labor Union movement. Their decline has run parallel with wage stagnation and perpetual diminishment of the American middle class.

 

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