Racialization of American Politics

Race and the 2014 election

Race again loomed large in the 2014 elections. The CNN exit polls showed that Whites of all age groups, both sexes, and all social classes voted Republican. White males: 64%-33%: White women: 56%-42% (likely much higher for married White women if past trends held); Whites 18–29: 54-43%. Whites without a college education voted 61–31 for Republican House candidates. (These are underestimates because voters counted as White include groups, such as Jews and Middle Easterners, who neither identify or vote like Whites.)

As Thomas Edsall notes,

It has not escaped the notice of political analysts that 72 percent of whites without college degrees — a rough proxy for what we used to call the white working class — believe that “the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy.” Or that on Nov. 4, these same men and women voted for Republican House candidates by a 61-31 margin.

Similarly, the overwhelmingly white electorates of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota voted decisively in referendums to raise the minimum wage while simultaneously voting for Republicans, whose party has adamantly rejected legislation to raise the minimum wage. (“The Demise of the White Democratic Voter”)

Whites are deserting the Democratic Party, but that doesn’t mean they advocate plutocratic policies traditionally associated with Republicans. They are voting Republican even though Democrats are generally seen as the party of the non-wealthy and are far more likely to advocate policies like minimum wage hikes.

And Obamacare. The problem with Obamacare from the standpoint of Whites is that they are well aware that a disproportionate share of the costs will be borne by people like them, while a disproportionate share of the benefits will go to poor non-Whites. Edsall again:

Obamacare shifts health care benefits and tax burdens from upper-income Americans to lower-income Americans, and from largely white constituencies to beneficiaries disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities.

So once again we come up against biological realities — that people are less likely to contribute to public goods that will disproportionately benefit people unlike themselves. This is a well-known cost of multiculturalism. Why should White voters want a law they know will benefit non-Whites far more than themselves? In fact, immigrants are major beneficiaries of Obamacare, accounting for 42% of the growth of Medicaid since 2011.

Race is never part of the explicit rhetoric of White opposition to policies that disproportionately benefit non-Whites — it tends to be expressed as opposition to the federal government, the welfare state, taxation, and the desire for better schools, or even perceived moral issues like abortion and homosexuality. But at the implicit level, the aversion to contributing to public goods for non-Whites is the overriding motivation for opposition to Obamacare. When Republicans shut down the US government over Obamacare, it was widely perceived as motivated by Whites concerned that poor non-Whites would disproportionately benefit from the law, while it would increase taxes on Whites. Read more

The Racialization of American Politics Accelerates

A recent survey by the Pew Center indicates an accelerating polarization of American politics around race, summarized by Jonathan Chait in his ill-titled “This Statistic Shows the Republican Demographic Crisis Is Still Getting Worse.”  The poll, based on likely voters in the 2014 elections, shows that non-White voters splitting 77-15 for Democrats, up 68-21 8 years ago. White voters split for Republicans 55-39 in 2014, but only 49-42 in 2006.

Based on the CNN exit polls, the disparities were actually greater in the 2012 presidential election, when Whites of all age groups and both sexes voted for Romney, and the White vote split as a whole split 59-39 for Romney. But in any case, the trend in three consecutive off-year elections is clear.

American politics has become racialized, with non-Whites being far more likely to vote as as a bloc than Whites. But Whites are catching up. I suspect that all the publicity given to the border surge and the promise of immigration amnesty will actually boost the Republican-Democrat split for Whites to be much higher than Pew predicts.

 

Leaving Labour: More on the racialization of British politics

Working-class Whites in Britain are abandoning the Labour partyParticularly in London and now expanding to the near suburbs, non-White minorities are the face of Labour.

The divide between London’s white and ethnic minority voters will be laid bare in a shocking study this week. The research into London’s recent European election result shows two thirds of white British voters backed either the Tories or Ukip. It goes on to reveal that two thirds of non-white voters supported Labour, which received the backing of just one in five white British voters. The analysis suggests that the migration of ethnic minority voters to the capital’s inner suburbs is behind recent Labour victories there. But it also comes amid debate among senior Labour voices over how to respond to the rise of Ukip support among white working class voters. The analysis highlights that there are now almost as many non-white as there are white British voters in London. The research is co-authored by former Equalities and Human Rights Commission chief Trevor Phillips. He said: “At the heart of these findings is the fact that there are now nearly as many minority voters in London as there are white British voters. But the fact that two out of three minority voters stick with Labour irrespective of where they live or how well-off they are is transforming the capital’s politics. What we’re seeing is the emergence of cultural politics…voters seem to want to vote for parties that they feel understand and like them and shun parties they think don’t fit the bill.” The research will be published in think tank Demos’ quarterly magazine later this week. It found 41 per cent of voters in London are non-white while 51 per cent are white British. Mr Phillips suggested that the dispersal of ethnic minorities into London’s inner suburbs had led to Labour’s successes in council elections in Croydon, Merton and Harrow. He also predicted it would mean former Tory marginals turning into Labour strongholds. (Only one in five white Britons votes for Labour, The Evening Standard, 14th July 2014)

Read more

Peter Beinart’s Jewish Triumphalism: Jettisoning the White Working Class

Peter Beinart has a Jewish triumphalist article in The Atlantic riffing off an article by Ann Coulter deploring soccer (“Ann Coulter Is Right to Fear the World Cup“). He reads Ann Coulter to be basically saying “Soccer’s alleged collectivism, effeminacy and elitism are simply markers of its foreignness. The core problem with embracing soccer is that in so doing, America would become more like the rest of the world.”

American enthusiasm for soccer becomes a marker of all that is good for Beinart and all that is bad for Coulter:

Which is why Coulter should be very afraid. Because America is embracing soccer. America’s World Cup game against Portugal attracted almost 25 million television viewers in the U.S., eight million more than watched the highest rated World Cup game in 2010, and far more than the average viewership for last year’s World Series or this year’s NBA finals. NBC now broadcasts English soccer. And America’s own league, Major League Soccer, draws as many fans to its stadiums as do the NHL and NBA.

Beinart traces anti-soccer attitudes to anti-immigration sentiment a century ago, “an era when mass immigration was spawning Coulter-like fears that America was losing its special character. … Old-stock Americans … were elevating baseball, football, and basketball into symbols of America’s distinct identity. Immigrants realized that embracing those sports offered a way to claim that identity for themselves. Clinging to soccer, by contrast, was a declaration that you would not melt.”

Steve Sailer interprets this implied swipe at “old-stock Americans” and their sense of national identity as resulting from Beinart’s sense of revenge against those old-stock Americans—”Revenge is a dish best served a century cold.” Read more

What does becoming a minority mean for the social status of Whites?

The recent study by Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson on the reactions of Whites to becoming a minority (discussed here) included a manipulation where experimental subjects (all Whites) read an “assuaging paragraph” intended to calm their fears about the impending minority status of Whites. The paragraph was a very authoritative sounding claim that “despite the shift in the demographic make-up, the relative societal status of different racial groups is likely to remain steady” and “White Americans are expected to continue to have higher average incomes and wealth compared to members of other racial groups.”

This was merely an experimental manipulation. The experimenters did not argue that the assuaging claim about White social status was true. But, given that they are proposing that fear of loss of social status is indeed the central mechanism underlying all their results, it is important to think about whether it is true or not. Again, the model they propose is that White people confronted with their impending status as a demographic minority fear a decline in their social status. This then motivates them to adopt a variety of positions associated with conservative politics in America, such as opposing a government role in healthcare, favoring more defense spending, and presumably opposing gay marriage, abortion, and restrictions on gun rights.

Income

As the above chart shows, it’s not the case that Whites “have higher average incomes and wealth compared to members of other racial groups.” Asians have had a higher average income ever since they became a demographically significant group. Moreover, in states like California, Whites are losing out in competition with Asians and Latinos for valued resources, such as admission to the University of California (“California students feel UC admission squeeze“). Whites (26.8%) are now the third most common racial group in the UC system, following Asians (36.2%) and Latinos (28.8%) (the latter doubtless boosted by the rule that students in the top 9% of their  high school graduating class are automatically admitted; Blacks are underrepresented because race cannot be used as a criterion and there are few all-Black high schools as Latinos have colonized many formerly Black areas. Immigration has huge costs for Blacks as well as Whites).

Another aspect of the future decline in the economic position of Whites is highlighted in a recent report by James G. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, posted by the always valuable Center for Immigration Studies (Immigration’s Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012). Importing millions of poor, uneducated people will be an ever-increasing drain on society as a whole and will lead to political power for redistributionist policies that will hurt Whites. Read more

Racialization of Politics in the UK

A major theme at TOO is the racialization of American politics—the tendency for politics to reflect racial/ethnic identities rather than economic interest, as was the rule in pre-multicultural America where the Democrats were the party of working class Whites. The racialization of politics means that the Democrats’ “ascendant majority” of non-Whites is likely to dominate in the  future, as they do in California where they had supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature (until two representatives of the ascendant [Ronald Calderon and Roderick Wright] got involved in scandals) and are urging Governor Jerry Brown to spend yet more money on social programs.

It’s interesting that one aspect of the new American identity politics is that Republicans are likely to continue to do relatively well  in the Senate because each state gets two senators. That means that rural states with larger percentages of Whites, and especially older and working class Whites, are likely to vote Republican as racial identities increasingly dominate the political landscape (Ron Brownstein, “Parties trading places for 2014“). Clearly the White working class and older Whites are conspicuously absent from the coalition of the ascendant; Obama’s popularity is about 30% among these groups. Although these groups show the clearest pattern, Whites in general haven’t jumped on board the multicultural bandwagon as it heads into our glorious and vibrant future: majorities of all age groups and both sexes of Whites voted Republican in 2012; this trend will be more extreme in the future.

There are similar trends in the UK, where an observer described British political elites as posing “as champions of progress yet their fixation with multiculturalism is dragging us into a new dark age. In many of our cities, social solidarity is being replaced by divisive tribalism, democracy by identity politics.” And as in the U.S. where Whites and especially  working class and older Whites are defecting from the Democrats, in the UK the White working class and older Whites are defecting from Labour to the UKIP (The Guardian: White face, blue collar, grey hair: the left-behind voters that only Ukip understands“).

To truly understand Ukip’s appeal you need to go much deeper. The roots of this revolt can be traced back over decades. Divides in the social and economic experiences of voters have appeared, their values and priorities have been widening, and a new electorate of “left behind” voters has grown up. These voters are on the wrong side of social change, are struggling on stagnant incomes, feel threatened by the way their communities and country are changing, and are furious at an established politics that appears not to understand or even care about their concerns. And it is these left-behind voters who have finally found a voice in Farage’s revolt. Read more

Multiculturalism and the Racialization of Politics in the United States

This is a recent talk which was intended as a  general overview and designed to appeal to the unconverted.

My background is in evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists study how the human mind has been shaped by the needs of survival and reproduction over long expanses of evolutionary time. When we look at how the human mind actually evolved, there are troubling implications for multiculturalism.

Social Identity Processes

There are several systems that are relevant for how people respond to others from different groups, but I think the most important one stems from social identity theory. An early form of social identity theory was stated by 19th-century anthropologist William Graham Sumner, who concluded:

Loyalty to the group, sacrifice for it, hatred and contempt for outsiders, brotherhood within, warlikeness without—all grow together, common products of the same situation. It is sanctified by connection with religion. Men of an others-group are outsiders with whose ancestors the ancestors of the we-group waged war. . . . Each group nourishes its own pride and vanity, boasts itself superior, exalts its own divinities, and looks with contempt on outsiders. Each group thinks its own folkways the only right ones, and if it observes that other groups have other folkways, these excite its scorn.

This essentially states that for humans, identifying as a member of an ingroup is a source of conflict with other groups. We are all aware that around the world there are many countries that are engulfed in conflict stemming from religious and ethnic differences—from different social identities. Right now the civil war in Syria is a good example, pitting Sunnis against Shiites, and within these larger groupings there are particular ethnic groups, such as Alewites, Arabs, Kurds, Druze, and Assyrians. Azerbaijan is no stranger to ethnic conflict, as in the war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Read more