U.S. Politics

The 'white minority' illusion

If there's one thing that's sustained liberals through the trials of the 2016 election and its aftermath, it's faith that demography will come to their rescue to ensure that they eventually prevail against the right-wing, racist populism of the Trump-era Republican Party. That assumption, which originated with the "emerging Democratic majority" thesis of the early 2000s, has animated a thousand tweets and undergirded an untold number of think pieces over the past year and a half. The most recent is Erza Klein's erudite reckoning with just how much President Trump's toxic racism and xenophobia diverges from the American norm. Klein's conclusion from a perusal of American history is: not much. The United States has never been especially liberal or democratic for non-whites, and Trump represents the last gasp of those in American life who would like to keep it that way. It's likely to be their last gasp because, as Klein writes, "if current demographic projections hold, we will be a majority-minority nation in less than 30 years." Once that happens, the country's formerly white majority will have no choice but to reconcile itself to a changed demographic reality. And that will hopefully allow historians of the future to look back at our moment to conclude that what seemed like a potentially dire threat to liberal democracy in America during the Trump administration was merely "the turbulence that has always accompanied racial progress in this country."


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