This year’s election cycle has taught us many lessons. Key among them is the clear fact that these United States are becoming more racially diverse and if politicians want to continue to lead, they will have to do a better job of appealing and reaching out to Americans who are black, brown and every shade in between.
Even right-wing nut-job Bill O’Reilly is coming to this realization. Tuesday night as election results came in, the Fox News anchor whined that President Obama won reelection because, “It’s not a traditional America anymore … The white establishment is now the minority.”
O’Reilly was not celebrating this new America; why should he? The change in demographics will mean that fewer white men will be calling the shots. And those like O’Reilly and the Tea Party faithful will find themselves with fewer allies.
Most analysts agree that President Obama was able to piece together his reelection victory with the votes of a coalition of black, Hispanic and white – especially white women – voters. Tough Mitt Romney won the white vote overall, the president just needed the support of about 40 percent of white voters to cross the finish line because the minority voting bloc in this country has become so powerful.
The hateful rhetoric of the right won’t fly in a nation where people of color and women have the power to sway an election. The days are numbered for those who have been successful in appealing to a white base with racially-tinged immigrant-bashing or drawing in evangelicals by dictating to women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.
Earlier this year, it was reported that minority births in the U.S. topped white births for the first time ever. An estimate, based on Census data, states that whites could be the minority in the United States by 2040. Even the South, a reliable Red State bloc, won’t be able to escape the change that is coming.
A lot of Americans fear this change. There is always fear of the unknown, especially when it means that one group has to give up or share power. And the new America should, indeed, reflect its citizenry. Although this nation has an African American president, the overwhelming majority of its corporate leaders and boards – the real decision-makers in the United States – are white men; the U.S. Senate has not one black member; and minority governors are few and far between.
This change won’t mean the end of white elected officials – far from it – but it will mean those who have thrived in Congress, governors’ mansions and statehouses with their closed-minds and narrow ways of thinking will have to change their ways or face the consequences.
Of course, this power is only real if minorities harness it. There is still much distrust and dislike between blacks and Hispanics, and some folks have gotten good at playing-up this tension. We hope that Tuesday’s results are a sign that together – like-minded blacks, browns and whites – can achieve anything.