Sunday, November 11, 2012
The slow death of white America: How will the great melting pot adapt to the millions of black and Hispanic voters who swept Obama back to power?
By Tom Leonard
For Republicans struggling to understand their defeat at the polls, the most chilling statistic in this week’s presidential election was this: Mitt Romney won the biggest share of the white vote that any Republican White House contender ever has — and he still lost.
In an election battle that was defined as much as anything by race, Mitt Romney won the support of 59 per cent of whites, but just 27 per cent of Latinos, 26 per cent of Asian-Americans and 6 per cent of African-Americans.
Thirty years ago, being unpopular with ethnic minorities would hardly have stopped a white establishment candidate like Romney from trouncing Barack Obama. But back then, whites accounted for almost 90 per cent of voters. Now they make up just 72 per cent of the electorate, and that figure is shrinking by the year.
Tuesday’s election showed a large turnout by Hispanics, who constituted some 10 per cent of voters — more than ever before. With 71 per cent of them voting for Mr Obama — notably in a handful of crucial swing states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada, where they turned out at the polls in unusually high numbers — Hispanic voters gave the President his winning margin.
In other key states, such as Ohio, pundits said a strong showing by Hispanic and black voters together ensured an Obama victory.
The Republican party, said one pollster, ‘will be doomed if they lose black and Latino votes by these same margins in the future’.
He’s not exaggerating. As the election highlighted, white America is dying — and in a quite literal sense.
The evidence of this demographic timebomb, which is likely to alter the face and character of the U.S. far more fundamentally than any number of elections, was made plain in the summer in a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau. It revealed that for the first time in American history, ethnic minorities now account for more than half the babies born in the U.S.
Of the four million children born in the year to July 2011, 50.4 per cent were ethnic minorities — black, Asian, mixed-race and, above all, Hispanic.
It was a long-expected milestone on the road to an America in which, according to experts, within 30 years whites will no longer be the majority.
Rather, the U.S. will boast 130 million Hispanics, more than the current population of Mexico. Among under 18-year-olds, whites will become a minority as early as 2019.
For a country founded by British colonists on British traditions and, for half its history inhabited almost entirely by white Europeans (if you discount the slaves, as the nation’s leaders did), it signals a seismic cultural transformation for the world’s sole superpower.
Given that immigration has become the country’s single most divisive issue, predictably some Americans have been punching the air for joy at the decline of a white majority, while others are bereft at what they see as the leaching away of their nation’s traditional character.
Liberals wedded to a multi-ethnic future insist it will be an opportunity to reinvigorate the U.S., creating a more diversified, open-minded and 21st century country.
At the other extreme are conservatives who believe the ‘death’ of white America spells cultural, economic and political doom for their country, and an end to the values of self-sufficiency that made their country great. And in between the two extremes are most rank-and-file Americans, who understand that the U.S. needs new blood if it is to avoid Japan and Europe’s economic nightmare of an ageing population, but who are worried by the implications of what has been dubbed the ‘browning’ of the U.S.
As they sit on a bus or train listening to Mexican Americans chat away in Spanish, they may wonder if their country’s famous ability to assimilate all newcomers is going to work in the next century.
Conservative thinker Pat Buchanan, a senior adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, is an outspoken critic of recent immigration. For him, ‘white America is a dying tribe’, and the ethnic minority tribes that are jostling to fill the gap are simply not up to the task of competing against the rising power of China.
When, 14 years ago, President Bill Clinton told students in Oregon that it would be better for America when everyone was a minority, Buchanan waspishly observed that those students would one day ‘have to spend their golden years in a Third World America’.
Unlike in the past, it isn’t black Americans who are the greatest political concern for the defenders of ‘old’ America, but Hispanics from Mexico and Latin America — the legacy of four decades of economic migration by millions who have come north looking for a job and a chance to find the American Dream.
The problem, in the eyes of many conservatives, is that compared with the generations of Irish, Germans, Jews, Poles and Italians before them, pitifully few Hispanics have yet found that dream. Most Hispanics — two-thirds of whom originate from Mexico — continue to be stuck limpet-like at the bottom of society, a quiet, often overlooked army doing the most menial jobs such as picking fruit, washing cars, toiling in restaurant kitchens and cleaning offices.
Thanks to the sweeping away of immigrant quotas, the immigrant population has quadrupled since 1970, with nearly 14 million entering the country between 2000 and 2010 alone.
Mexicans are by far the biggest group — of the 12 million now living in the U.S., about half are there legally. (It is sobering to learn that the U.S. population of around 226 million in 1980 has now increased to more than 314 million.)
America’s struggling economy and toughened border controls have put a brake on immigration, but the problem for those upset by the country’s changing demographics is that whites — while still constituting 72 per cent of the population — aren’t having enough children.
The fertility rate for Hispanic women is 2.4 children, compared with 2.1 for black women, and only 1.8 for whites. Latinos don’t just have more children — already more than a quarter of all babies — but they are also much younger. While the average age of American whites is 42, for Hispanics it is just 27.
In much of America’s south-west, there is growing tension between richer but increasingly beleaguered older white people and younger, poorer Latinos.
Earlier this year, a Texas pizza chain called Pizza Patron drew a storm of protest from conservatives after launching a promotion to give free slices to anyone who could order in Spanish. (In 2007, the company’s bosses even received death threats after they started accepting Mexican pesos as another stunt.)
Pat Buchanan told me that white Middle America feels it has been abandoned. ‘They watch on cable TV as illegal aliens walk into their country and are rewarded with free healthcare and education for their kids, take jobs away from U.S. workers and carry Mexican flags while marching in American cities to demand U.S. citizenship: they sense that they are losing their country, and they are right,’ he said.
He insisted there are increasingly ‘two Americas’: white and northern Asian-Americans from China, Japan and South Korea, who have higher incomes and far better educational qualifications than the other half of the divided nation — the Hispanic and African-Americans.
In this, at least, his opponents will concede he has a point. America — like Britain — desperately needs a well-qualified workforce to compete in the world, but just 13 per cent of adult Latinos have a college degree, compared with 18 per cent of blacks and 31 one per cent of whites.
Buchanan believes Britain, with the rest of Europe, faces the same fate as the U.S. under the relentless logic of a dwindling white population and growing minorities.
‘There’s nothing the British can do because they’re not reproducing,’ he said. ‘They’re getting older, they’re going to die and someone’s going to come in and take it over. I think Europe is finished.’
Liberal demographic experts such as Bill Frey at the think-tank the Brookings Institution dismiss doom-mongering about Hispanics as the irrational fear of a generation who — owing to a dearth of immigration between the Thirties and Seventies — never had to grow up with an influx of newcomers. Americans were just as scared of Italian immigrants when they arrived in the early 20th century, he argues. He says Hispanic immigrants bring ‘enthusiasm, energy and inventiveness’ to America — qualities you can’t measure by the size of their bank account or their number of degrees.
What’s more, he says, while it always takes about three generations for immigrants to start moving up through society, surveys show Hispanic immigrants really do want to become ‘mainstream Americans’. They ‘just’ need government help — education, housing, social services, English lessons — to give them a leg-up.
With this touchstone issue set to dominate much of America’s social and political debate in the coming years, the Republican Party is left to wrestle with the issue of how it can attract voters who are not wedded to the traditional values it espouses.
The sensible response for the party will be to turn to its strong line-up of young, ethnic minority figures — particularly charismatic Cuban-American Marco Rubio, a Florida senator — who are waiting in the wings as future leaders.
If instead it chooses another candidate like Romney in 2016, it may be doomed to failure again. ‘Harsh rhetoric about Hispanics is for some Republicans rather like smoking — you know it will kill you, but you do it anyway,’ says party pollster Whit Ayres.
If those in the leadership don’t ‘break the habit’, he says grimly, the Republican party is finished.
Demographics haven't killed the GOP -- yet
President Obama's re-election has triggered panic in some GOP circles. Obama was able to win not just once, when Americans were reacting against the Bush era, but a second time, with a weak economy and a vulnerable record. America, the alarmists say, has fundamentally shifted so much that Republicans can no longer win national elections. This thesis merits serious consideration. Especially relevant is the fact that Mitt Romney's dismal performance among the growing Hispanic demographic made the race essentially unwinnable.
That having been said, Republicans' demise may not be at hand just yet. In the short and medium-term, it is worth asking how much of this victory can be chalked up to Obama's personal appeal and status as a historical figure, as opposed to fundamental shifts in the American electorate. The key question is whether future Democratic candidates will be able to command the type of margins Obama enjoyed among young voters and African-Americans. Although Republicans face long-term challenges with voter demographics, Romney's problem in this election may not have been primarily structural.
Democrats have consistently dominated Republicans among black voters in the modern era. They have also had the edge with younger voters. Obama significantly outperformed his Democratic predecessors among these groups, for reasons that seem obvious. But he won't always be on the ballot.
Take the black vote. In the six presidential races between 1984 and 2004, Republicans' support among blacks never exceeded 12 percent. But in 2008, Obama won them with an astounding 95 percent to 4 percent for John McCain. This time, he got 93 percent.
Romney received only 6 percent of the black vote. If he had gotten George W. Bush's level of support among blacks in 2004 (11 percent), he would have carried Florida and Ohio by more than 100,000 votes in each state. It's quite possible that Obama has found a Democratic ceiling with black voters, and future Democratic nominees cannot take such margins for granted. So although Republicans cannot afford to continue writing off black votes as they have for far too long, they probably still have time for a serious effort to win more of them.
The story is similar with the youth vote. In past elections, the under-29 vote has gone to Democrats consistently. John Kerry won this group by 9 points in 2004. Obama's great achievement was not that he turned out under-29 voters in significantly higher numbers but that he inspired so many of them. He won them by an astounding 34 points in 2008.
Obama has an unusually strong appeal with the young, but even his advantage among them shrank by 11 points between 2008 and 2012. Will the 2016 presidential campaign of, say, Martin O'Malley or Mark Warner appeal to under-29 voters quite so strongly? And what about black voters? Even assuming 2012 turnout levels for both groups, Obama would have certainly lost Florida, Ohio and Virginia if he had won just these two groups by the same margins that John Kerry did in 2004. And under such a scenario, had Romney managed to win 28 percent among Hispanics instead of his appalling 23 percent performance in Colorado, he would be the next president.
Republicans must take seriously their very real problems with black voters, young voters and also Hispanic voters. But they would be wrong to throw up their hands at demography as if the reaper had already arrived. There is still time for them to reach out. Democrats know they cannot take Obama-levels of support among these groups for granted, but Republicans will be done for indeed if they don't start working now to win their votes.
Four more years of decline
Great nations and proud empires have always collapsed from within before they were conquered from without. President Obama's re-election mirrors the self-indulgent, greedy and envious nation we are rapidly becoming.
Pollsters Michael Barone and Dick Morris got it horribly wrong. Both predicted a 300 electoral-vote win for Romney. It was President Obama who reached that mark. The central message coming out of the election seems to be that we are no longer the America of our Founders, or even the America that existed during World War II, which produced our "greatest generation."
Instead, the election validates the enormous cultural shift that has been taking place since the 1960s, when a countercultural bomb was dropped on society, producing moral fallout that continues to this day.
I am a child of the "greatest generation." My parents believed I should learn to take care of myself. They would have been too embarrassed to ask for help if they needed it. If they did, they would turn to family first, or to a friend or neighbor. There were fewer social programs then, so people mostly did without, living only on what they truly needed. It said something about your character if you refused to strive toward self-sufficiency.
In 2012, nothing appears to embarrass us. Snooki. Honey Boo Boo. Reality TV wives. Look at what is paraded before us as normal. Oppose the new normal and it is you who are the anomaly.
Young people are taught in public schools, at major universities, on television and in movies, that every life choice is acceptable and every tenet open to interpretation. In politics, some proclaim it is right to oppose the successful and envy the rich to the point where they must be denigrated and penalized for their success with higher taxes. No one has to be personally responsible. No education; no motivation; no life plan? No problem. The government will take care of you.
One thing Romney might have done better is to have featured more people who had overcome government dependence by embracing the values he was promoting. Example trumps philosophy, and success should trump victimhood. Inspiration follows perspiration. But in our "entitlement" age even that might have been impossible to overcome.
Other signs of cultural decay are accepted with little notice. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of babies born in America are born to unmarried women. Shrug. Abortion clinics continue to operate. Yawn.
There is no longer any cultural corrective because we have abandoned the concept of objective truth. Nothing is right or wrong, because that suggests a standard by which right and wrong might be defined. Personal choice is the new "standard," which is no standard at all. One might as well develop individual weights and measures.
Politicians bid for votes, making promises they can't keep to voters who will believe anything, as long as it appeals to greed, envy and their sense of entitlement. This undermines our culture. This fuels our massive debt, weakening our economic power and America's standing in the world.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now put together by Dean Weingarten.
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:43 AM