We are experiencing a period of extreme polarization in our politics – the extreme right vs the ultraliberal left. And the trend seems to be worsening. It seems to be a contest to see which side can cement their position and dominate for the long term – no more compromise, no more considering what is best for the health of the democracy, no more consideration for the welfare of the Nation as a whole, just “my faction, my tribe, my values at any cost”. The extreme right seems to support a nationalist point of view and be represented at the core by white, rural America – mostly male, feeling left behind in sharing in the country’s financial growth, feeling ignored for years by the establishment government, feeling loss due to immigration, globalism and anti discrimination laws and policies. This group, while not a majority, has succeeded in developing a significant political power base. The ultra liberal left, also not a majority, is mainly in urban areas, tends to be college educated, but seems to be less politically organized. Both extremes hold core values but spin their story in ways to attract racial and cultural minorities. In recent years the pendulum of political power has swung far to the right. It is had to see how it can come back and stabilize somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
Demographics may just be the long term answer to this apparent dilemma. In a recent article published by The Smithsonian, “The Changing Demographics of America”. Here are some critical excerpts:
“The United Nations estimates that two million people a year will move from poorer to developed nations over the next 40 years, and more than half of those will come to the United States, the world’s preferred destination for educated, skilled migrants.”
“The United States of 2050 will look different from that of today: whites will no longer be in the majority. The U.S. minority population, currently 30 percent, is expected to exceed 50 percent before 2050. No other advanced, populous country will see such diversity.”
“Most of America’s net population growth will be among its minorities, as well as in a growing mixed-race population. Latino and Asian populations are expected to nearly triple, and the children of immigrants will become more prominent. Today in the United States, 25 percent of children under age 5 are Hispanic; by 2050, that percentage will be almost 40 percent.”
“Suburbia will continue to be a mainstay of American life. Despite criticisms that suburbs are culturally barren and energy-inefficient, most U.S. metropolitan population growth has taken place in suburbia, confounding oft-repeated predictions of its decline.”
“A new landscape may emerge, one that resembles the network of smaller towns characteristic of 19th-century America. The nation’s landmass is large enough—about 3 percent is currently urbanized—to accommodate this growth, while still husbanding critical farmland and open space.”
“Suburbs epitomize much of what constitutes the American dream for many people. Minorities, once largely associated with cities, tend to live in the suburbs; in 2008 they were a majority of residents in Texas, New Mexico, California and Hawaii. Nationwide, about 25 percent of suburbanites are minorities; by 2050 immigrants, their children and native-born minorities will become an even more dominant force in shaping suburbia.”
“There will be 15 million to 20 million new urban dwellers by 2050. Many will live in what Wharton business professor Joseph Gyourko calls “superstar cities,” such as San Francisco, Boston, Manhattan and western Los Angeles—places adapted to business and recreation for the elite and those who work for them. By 2050, Seattle, Portland and Austin could join their ranks. But because these elite cities are becoming too expensive for the middle class, the focus of urban life will shift to cities that are more spread out and, by some standards, less attractive.”
“For much of American history, race has been the greatest barrier to a common vision of community. Race still remains all too synonymous with poverty: considerably higher poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics persist. But the future will most likely see a dimming of economic distinctions based on ethnic origins.”
The takeaway here is that the nation is rapidly becoming a diverse collection of minority – no more majority white America. There will clearly be multiple associated financial and social consequences. But clearly the dominate core of the current far right will loss power strictly from the numbers. So things will change. It is inevitable. The concern is that the democracy is not distorted irretrievably in the interim let’s hope for the best and continue to voice our opinions and try to be more politically thoughtful and active.