Monday, December 10, 2012

Opinion: The browning of American democracy

Mi Familia Vota Canvassers look at their route plan to see which way to walk.

Much was made of the “missing white voters” when conservatives couldn’t believe that Romney had lost, but four years is a long time when you are of retirement age, of which the vast majority are white. 

If you want to know what contributed to these missing voters, perhaps a look at the death rate by race and ethnicity can provide clues. The Latino death rate, according to the Center for Disease Control, was 523 per 100,000 people for Hispanics, and 748 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites.

The share of the country’s white voters is shrinking, and with nature taking its course, the only way to make up that difference is through childbirth or immigration. Unless conservative white men want to give up their jobs to stay at home and watch the kids while their wives exercise their growing freedom to have children on their own schedules, or convince Ann Coulter to stop carrying water for white men and start making babies, this trend will continue to accelerate.

As conservatives tried to absorb the significance of the Presidential Election, there emerged fresh news that compounded their anxiety about the changing demographics of the country. Pew Research Center reported that the U.S. birth rate dropped to its lowest recorded level ever

Hispanic mothers made up 24 percent of the births, while whites made up 54 percent. Pew reports that, “Since 1990, the share of births to U.S.-born mothers who are white has decreased from 72 percent, while the share to U.S.-born mothers who are Hispanic has grown from 7 percent.”

This is likely a high watermark for white births because these numbers exclude the race or ethnicity of the father, and Hispanics intermarry at the highest rates among minorities. More than 1in 5 Hispanics “marry out” of their ethnicity.

The browning of America marches on, while the GOP struggle to adjust as an artifact of an old America yearning to hang on.

Practically lost in the discussion about this election is the significance of the coalition that won the office for President Obama. With the greatest diversity in race, ethnicity and gender ever exhibited in a Presidential Election, the force of the majority power structure could not withstand the weight of democracy on its shoulders. And with it will continue the decline of the vestiges of whiteness that began more than 400 years ago.

Future elections will need to acknowledge that a growing reliance on the appeals of the past will have electoral consequences at the national level. Latinos went from being a growing demographic to a powerful voting bloc largely because the GOP couldn’t figure out how to run on a platform of inclusion.

Marco Rubio made his pitch to change the image of the party yesterday at the Kemp Foundation, in which he said, “The existence of a large and vibrant middle class goes to the very essence of America’s exceptional identity.” That’s a good start, but Senator Rubio mentioned diversity in his speech exactly zero times, while repeating his commitment to the same policies the Republicans have been losing minorities and women on over the last twenty years.

The assumption by Mr. Rubio is that the GOP has a marketing problem, but not a substantive one, with minorities. That’s the attitude that needs to change. The problem is that minorities know very well what the GOP platform is.

In this new era of politics, that dynamics of the past have changed. This new coalition, should the Democrats do what they can to hold it together, could mean the beginning of the end of whiteness as we know it if the GOP can’t look in the mirror and accept that the problem is staring right back at them.

Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

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