Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Changing Face of America: The New Demographics


America is changing. Rapidly. When the Pilgrims first celebrated what we now call "Thanksgiving" in 1623, the land was populated by indigenous people. The Pilgrims were just a tiny handful of English settlers. Further to the south there were small Spanish settlements, but that was about it. The French and Dutch were just starting to eye this "New World" for a piece of the pie. By 1800, America as it was now known had grown in size and population, but it was still mostly Western Europeans along with African slaves who had been brought over by English, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish explorers and traders.

By the turn of the 20th Century, the native population had been mostly killed off or confined to "reservations". So much for "civilization". America was overwhelming European; 98% by most estimates. They came from everywhere. There was a growing but still small population of Asians (mainly from China) and Hispanics, plus a burgeoning black population. By the start of WWII in 1939, America remained a dominant "European" country. By the 1950's, America represented nearly every population on the planet. By the 1970's all this began to change.

Birth rates among whites began dropping off following the end of WWII in 1945. Meanwhile the black population continued to grow along with rising Hispanic and Asian populations. However, the overall demographics of the country largely remained intact, but for those watching the trends, the eventual outcome was obvious. America would, within half a century or so, cease to be a predominantly European based nation, and with it perhaps begin losing its Western appearance.

Whites would still dominate but as their numbers declined they would reach a point where they were simply a large minority whose political, social, and economic influence wouldn't be as it once was. Most estimates put the tipping point around 2050. However, those estimates didn't anticipate the mass influx coming illegally or the infusion from developing or second tier nations.

It didn't take into consideration either the invasion and collapse of Europe by so-called "migrants" from Africa and the Middle East (many not coming from war impacted countries), nor did it consider the potential conflicts the diversity of religions and ethnic groups with differing values and traditions would bring. Perhaps the most damning factor was that America had previously been a "melting pot" nation, where each immigrant brought their own experiences and values and added to everyone else's with the goal of becoming an integrated "American" and all that entailed.

It now appears that the estimated tipping point of 2050 was too optimistic. According to recent data, the tipping point may be closer to 2035...if not sooner, at least in terms of politics. For instance, while Hispanics have been the largest minority in terms of numbers, having surpassing blacks years before, blacks have outvoted Hispanics. However, it appears that Hispanics may now, for the first time ever, show up in larger numbers than blacks starting in 2020; 13.3% to 12.5% registration. Not that the impact will be all that different since both blacks and Hispanics tend to register and vote Democrat.
What may be most affected, however, are the issues since Hispanics will vote issues which most impact them, specifically on matters of immigration. Several states (most notably California and the western states) already have large Hispanic minorities or even majorities in some cities and towns. Many mostly "red" or Republican states among them. An increase in number could swing those states back to the blue column.

Another factor was the increase in immigration from Asia, principally Chinese. This has resulted in a major increase in Asian communities not just in places especially along the upper West Coast into places like Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia Canada where they are having the same impact as Hispanics are elsewhere. Again, like Hispanics and blacks, Asians tend to vote Democrat although as a group, they have increasingly registered as Independent.

Also, beginning in the 1960's, immigrants, legal or otherwise, were encouraged to keep their own identity; their own language, culture and values. Instead, we would find ways to adapt to them in order to make them feel more "comfortable" in their new homeland. The result was the creation of a multicultural nation rather than a integrated "melting pot", thus planting the seeds of a potential balkanized American future. Another factor, an ageing population, became a new issue.

Babyboomers, who range in age from 55 to 73, are no longer the largest segment of voters. Millennials are, and they lean mostly Left or even Far Left (much has already been written on their strong support of democratic socialism). As an aside, in a recent survey, Millennials, ages 23 to 38, were asked why they didn't support Hillary Clinton. Their answer? She wasn't socially liberal enough!

However, it's Generation Z, the follow up to the Millennials, who are the ones to watch. They are the most racially diverse of the cohorts, and likely to be one of the best educated (Millennials now hold that title). Nearly half--48%---are racial (including mixed race) or ethnic minorities. They are more likely to come from homes with single parents. They are also more likely than not to come from homes which have experienced some form of poverty and the least likely to own a home (many having been homeless at some point in their lives).

While most Millennials are college educated and earning record incomes, many describe themselves as "poor" due to crushing debt (college); many still live at home with their parents or grandparents. Gen Z, on the other hand, perhaps taking a cue from their elders, are concentrating on the low debt/high pay trade and craft jobs; many of which have critical shortages What's most interesting is that socially and politically, they lean further Left than their older siblings. If that trends holds, we will see two generations track to Left or even the Far Left, not including, of course, the remnants of the Silents, Babyboomers or Gen X.

In terms of voter registration, things are changing there too. Currently the largest political bloc are Independents, with approximately 38% followed by Democrats with 30% and the GOP bringing up the rear. Women tend to be the single largest bloc for the Democrats (mainly due to social issues) with 56% compared to 44% of men; white evangelicals make up the core of Republicans. While the majority of Silents, Babyboomers, and Generation X have clung to their partisan labels, Millennials have eschewed being labeled. Instead, they have opted to register as Independents by and large. The same to be holding true for Gen Z thus far.

Nevertheless,71% of Millennials, regardless of their political registrations, say they would prefer a third party (including an Independent) over either the GOP or Democratic parties. Broken down by race and gender, 80% of whites, 71% of Asians, 67% of Latino, and 65% of black males said they are over the two corporate owned parties. Meanwhile,73% of black females agreed along with 70% of white, 67% of Asian, and 61% of Latina women.

So, where does this leave us? In short, it means that the country most of us grew up with is fading rapidly. White voters are still expected to cast 74% of the ballots in 2020 with Hispanics, Asians, and black making up the remaining 25%, but that's down from the previous years. Going forward, that percentage will continue to decline as the number of minorities, particularly Hispanics and Asians, increase.

How much does this really matter? In terms of the overall complexion of America, not much. The two cohorts--the Millennials and Gen Z---will be increasingly comprised of minority races and mixed parentages. I guess that in that sense, America will remain a "melting pot". Historically speaking, today's Italians are not the same ancient Romans, nor are modern Greeks the same as their illustrious ancestors and neither are the Insular Celts of the UK. Time marches on, and so do people. In terms of the direction America will take, it matters a great deal.

In terms of age, the white population will have grayed due to the fact they had fewer replacement children going back to post WWII. The majority of young adults will be Hispanic or Asian while the black population will remain steady at around 13%. The largest population growth will be from immigrants. In fact, most Americans will be either immigrants themselves or the children or grandchildren of immigrants.

In 2018, 15% of Americans were 65 years old or older. By 2050, 1/5 of the population will be at least 65. Many will be disabled or in need of continual medical care. Currently there is about 33 workers for every American 85 years old and up. By 2050, there will be 13 workers for every America 85 and older. That will likely mean that taxes will dramatically increase to cover the costs while the overall level of care decreases.

Another factor to consider is the continuing decrease of the Mainstream Christian churches. Those churches which remain will likely be more mixed racially. Among Protestants, the Baptist church will be the strongest. Meanwhile, traditional Roman Catholic churches catering to the Hispanic community will thrive. We will also see an increase in mosques thanks to the increase in immigrants from Muslim countries and tendency to have large families. There will also be in increase in Buddhist and Hindu temples as well. But overall, most Americans will be secular or at least hold non-traditional beliefs.

From a political perspective, white evangelicals will remain central to the GOP while white Christians will become a small minority in the Democratic party, with most of its members will be secular or belonging to other religions.

Politically I think America will be very different. Some estimates show as many as 20 states will have majority non-white populations with perhaps another dozen or so have substantial minorities. Among these are the electoral rich states of California, New York, Illinois, Texas and Florida. If the present trends continue, Democrats could emerge as the defacto national party. Of course, the Democratic Party may be quite different from the one we currently have.

Millennials and Gen Z have repeatedly stated that the Democratic Party isn't liberal enough. Both show a strong support for some form of socialism. Also bear in mind that both groups strongly support a new third party and/or support for Independents (indeed, many are already registered as Independent and nationally, both parties are hemorrhaging members). Therefore, there may be some other political party or movement in place of either corporate controlled party. Who knows? Perhaps by 2050 the two demonian parties might the Greens and Libertarians!

As for the Republicans, they will have to either adopt a much more moderate or liberal attitude such as they had in Rockefeller Era or accept becoming a largely regional or local political party. Rigid conservatives and the Far Right will likely find themselves on the fringes and excluded from power.

As with most changes, especially of the type I've discussed, we can expect conflict across numerous lines, be it socially, economically (current data also indicates a much wider gulf between the working poor/chronic poor and the uber-wealthy), political, racial, immigrant versus citizen, rural versus urban, or along religious lines (especially if Muslim extremists attempt to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims along with their historical conflicts with Hindus and Buddhists as they have in other countries).

Come Thanksgiving in 2050, America and indeed the world will be as different to us as the one the Pilgrims celebrated in 1623 and world they left behind. America will no longer be a nation with either a racial or cultural majority. There will be larger populations of other religions than we've ever experienced before as a country. We will likely have two or even three primary languages. To survive as a nation, we will have to focus more than ever on what unites us or face internal conflict and the breakup of the United States.



6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and world in 2019


Trends in Party Affiliation Among Demographic Groups


Millennial Poll: Strong majority want a third political party

America: This Is Your Future

America's Changing Religious Identity



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