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America's Majority-Minority Future Approaches

Walter Russell Mead

A demographic tidal wave is sweeping over the United States, dramatically altering the complexion of hundreds of cities and towns, not just in traditional immigrant hubs, but all across the country. The Wall Street Journal reports:

White Americans no longer account for the majority in hundreds of counties across the U.S., a trend transforming America’s social and political landscape as Latinos, Asians and blacks outpace white population growth, according to census figures out Thursday.

In 370 counties across 36 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic whites accounted for less than half the population as of July 2015. That includes 31 additional counties since 2010, such as those encompassing Fort Worth and Austin in Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and parts of suburban Atlanta and Sacramento, Calif.

Throughout its history, American society has been tolerant of and even supportive of the identity politics of various minority groups, from the Irish and Italians a century ago to Hispanics and Asians today. This tradition has been good for the country, overall, in that it has encouraged assimilation while making our society more dynamic. But if we are moving toward “majority-minority” status in many states and localities, we should probably expect to see a rise in white identity politics as well. It’s hard to argue that this would similarly salutary, or that the balkanization of American society along racial and ethnic lines will make the country a better place.

Much of the fire fueling Trump’s populist campaign comes from those who fear mass immigration is changing the racial and ethnic balance of America in ways that will leave them marginalized and powerless in a country that used to be theirs. This is a monster that should not be underestimated, and poking and prodding it is not a wise thing to do, as elites across the Western world are beginning, belatedly, to recognize.

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