The Most Dangerous Myth in American Politics | Opinion

What's the most dangerous myth in contemporary politics—a fable that damages both major parties while powerfully promoting polarization?

In addition to our era's most outrageous conspiracy theories (about Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates trafficking children and worshipping Satan, for instance), there's a pernicious fairy tale that draws widespread support from serious people. It's frequently endorsed by prominent pundits, distinguished academics and veteran strategists of every ideological perspective.

For nearly a generation, such analysts have maintained an unfounded faith that America's transformation into a "majority minority nation" is both imminent and inevitable. According to conventional wisdom, once "non-Hispanic whites" find themselves outnumbered by those who identify as people of color, we will see a profound power shift in the direction of Democrats. Progressives insist that "demography is destiny" as they eagerly anticipate permanent majorities to control the political process. In one typical effusion, former Clinton advisor James Carville contributed a 2009 bestseller arrogantly titled 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.

Carville's confident claims are almost certainly as wrong as the apocalyptic Republican pronouncements about the growing possibility of one-party rule. Predictions of national takeover by a new implacable "non-white" majority mislead the nation about the present, the future and the deeper significance of ethnic identification in our elections.

The longstanding domination of American elections by voters who trace their ancestry to Europe (rather than Africa, Asia or Latin America) will, for better or worse, continue for another two decades and probably beyond. Despite record voter turnouts in communities of color in 2020, exit polls showed that non-Hispanic whites still comprised 67 percent of the electorate. Nevertheless, Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman boldly declared in The New York Times that "huge, long-developing demographic changes have reached a tipping point." He cites projections that by 2045 the white segment of our society will slip to minority status. "The new majority," he confidently avers, "will be about 25 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Black, 8 percent Asian descent and some 4 percent multiracial."

Even in the unlikely event that these forecasts come true in every particular, that still means a non-Hispanic white majority would persist through the next six presidential elections, remaining the largest segment of the populace during three two-term presidencies after Biden's anticipated retirement in 2024. Moreover, if we do arrive at Friedman's projected "tipping point" in 2045 or some time thereafter, Americans of European ancestry will remain by far the single largest ethnic group, according to Friedman's own categorization and projections, with a two-to-one advantage over the runner up, Latinos.

In fact, the recent census suggests the white majority will prove more durable than most observers assume. Last year's national tally allowed self-identified Hispanics to classify themselves as members of any race (Black, white, indigenous or "other") and nearly half of them proudly asserted their simultaneous standing as both Hispanic and white.

Democrats
Donna Elms wears a Democrat donkey pin while lining up outside in advance of a campaign rally with former President Barack Obama, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, and Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) on September 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Midterm election Day is November 6th. Mark Makela/Getty Images

That tendency will only grow with future generations, given the impact of rapidly rising intermarriage on the complicated mix of identities in the American polity. Interracial unions now account for more than 15 percent of all new marriages, and the majority of those mixed couples include one white partner joining a spouse who's Hispanic or Asian. This means there will be a growing number of young Americans with one parent, or even one grandparent, of Asian or Hispanic descent who may feel scant compulsion to classify themselves in those racial or ethnic terms. Among all the predictions about the nation's demographic future, one sure bet would be that the designation "multiracial" will become increasingly common.

But beyond all the arguments and equivocations about the timing or nature of America's purportedly implacable development into a "minority majority" nation lurks a more significant question: why would this shift matter at all?

The fact that non-whites might someday outnumber whites becomes significant only if those designations—"white" and "non-white"—reflect some shared heritage, culture, economic position, social standing or even political outlook.

But the argument that Asians and Blacks feel linked by some important bond as "people of color," separating them from their white neighbors, ignores every scrap of empirical evidence. By almost any measure, Asians as a group more closely resemble "non-Hispanic whites" than they do African Americans. For instance, in terms of life expectancy, whites live three more years, on average, than do Blacks, but Asians enjoy a seven-year advantage over whites. The same pattern plays out in terms of median income, educational attainment, family structure, expectations from government and more. The differences among various white subgroups (Evangelical Christians and gay activists, for example) are far more notable than any inherent distinctions between people of European versus Latin American ancestry.

The "woke" response to such an observation would be that all people of color have endured similar suffering as fellow victims of "white supremacy" and have never been able to claim "white privilege." But the dramatic differences among non-white subgroups indicate that they've experienced racism in very different ways. An Indian-American engineer who recently immigrated for a high-tech job at Microsoft may face his share of disrespect and discrimination, but his situation can't compare to the descendants of an African villager who arrived on a slave ship 300 years ago.

This is why Democrats face long odds in their hopes to use demographic change to achieve long-term realignment. Agitators may try to mobilize a general resentment of white people to unify a "non-white majority," but doing so only exacerbates the racism that already afflicts us.

For too many Republicans, on the other hand, talk of looming one-party takeover inspires apocalyptic panic, as conservatives fear potential isolation and irrelevance. But they should take heart, like all Americans, in the undeniable progress we've made on racial issues over the last 50 years. Despite Democratic attempts to intensify identity politics, the chances are that racial and ethnic affiliation will mean less, not more, in the elections that lie ahead.

Michael Medved hosts a daily radio talk show and is author, most recently, of God's Hand On America: Divine Providence in the Modern Era. Follow him on Twitter: @MedvedSHOW.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.