Now that census data show — for the first time in American history — the number of white babies born exceeded by the number of babies born to non-white minorities the question is: What does this mean for the future of American society?
Politically, it means that minorities who traditionally vote overwhelmingly for Democrats can ensure that the country veers ever further to the left over the years, making America more like the welfare states of Europe, whose unsustainable spending led ultimately to financial crises and widespread riots.
But this is not strictly a matter of whites versus non-whites. Jews vote consistently, and almost as overwhelmingly, for Democrats as blacks do. Moreover, Asian Americans are by no means as likely as other non-whites to vote for the class warfare, tax and spend agenda of the Democrats.
Yet when all is said and done, the future political direction of the country seems painfully clear from these demographic trends, unless something happens to change the current correlation between race and political party affiliation. Moreover, even that may not be enough.
Even if Republicans can siphon off enough votes from groups that normally vote for Democrats to keep the two-party system alive, the preservation of the Republican Party is a trivial issue compared to the preservation of American society.
If Republican politicians save themselves by becoming Democrats under a different label — and appeal to minorities as minorities, rather than as Americans — the same policies and attitudes will have the same destructive effect on the American economy and society.
Refusing to cut back on entitlement spending, for example, means that the current generation can continue to enjoy government-subsidized amenities, at the expense of future generations, who can be left to struggle to get necessities, after the money runs out and government's promises can no longer be kept.
The growth of ever bigger and even more intrusive government means that the freedom, for which generations of Americans have fought and died on battlefields, around the world can be slowly but steadily lost within our own country.
Painful as such outcomes can be the dangers do not end there. A continuation of the current political tendency to take away the money required for national defense, and spend it instead on handouts that will win votes, means that our enemies around the world will have golden opportunities at our expense.
Again, the dangers may not be immediate. But they can be catastrophic when they catch up with us — and catch us unprepared. We recovered from Pearl Harbor at enormous cost, including the needless deaths of American soldiers, fighting for their lives with obsolete military equipment against enemies with state of the art weapons.
But even such sacrifices, which brought us time to catch up during the Second World War, may not even be enough in a nuclear age.
What can be done now, to head off the many dangers in our current political policies and attitudes? There is not much we can do about demographic trends. But the changing composition of the American population is not, in itself, the fundamental danger. After all, vast millions of immigrants crossed the Atlantic for generations on end, and began the process of becoming Americans. Millions of black people likewise began that process after being set free.
Demography is not destiny. But the history of Balkanized and polarized societies in the 20th century is a history of horrors that we dare not ignore.
We are not at that terrible point yet. But that is the direction in which we are headed, under the spell of magic words like "multiculturalism" and "diversity," which have become substitutes for thoughts, even among those who pride themselves on being "thinking people."
Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is permeated with ideologies of group grievances and resentments, painting each group into the corner of its own separate subculture, instead of drawing them into the mainstream of the American culture that made this the greatest nation on earth.
Unless this fashionable Balkanization is stopped, demography can become destiny — and a tragedy for all.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is www.tsowell.com. To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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