Democrats appear to run an increasing risk of losing their advantages with minority voters. A new post-mortem on the 2020 election compiled by a trio of advocacy groups warns the party could back down with black, Hispanic and Asian voters because it treats these groups as “monolithic.”
It’s scary for Democrats. From a democratic point of view, however, the report is excellent news.
Too often parties and activists treat our politics like a demographic Rubik’s Cube – move the right colors to the right place and everything will come together. This is the logic of “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which postulated (in part) that America’s growing diversity would shift the electorate to the left. This notion had its mirror image in “The Flight 93 Election”, the Trumpist manifesto in which the pseudonymous author lamented that “the incessant importation of foreigners from the Third World” means “that the electorate is growing more to the left, more Democrat, less Republican, less Republican, and less traditionally American in each cycle. “
Reality could be more fluid and nuanced. There is a strong conservative tradition among African Americans – think Malcolm X – and more than a few Latino voters have strong anti-socialist feelings that make them suspicious of Bernie Sanders guys. Even these observations might be too general. As the autopsy report notes, there may be different values and priorities between “the Hispanic men of the Rio Grande Valley, the oil and gas workers in New Mexico, [and] Latinas of South Florida. “
If minority voters are To win, Democrats should fight thoughtfully for their support, instead of taking the votes for granted. On the other hand, Republicans might find a growing diversity in their ranks that blurs the politics of white backlash that drove the party through the Trump era – and the party’s push to restrict the electorate might become less pressing if GOP officials took seriously the idea that they can and should compete for black, Latino and Asian voters.
Either of these outcomes would be good for our vulnerable democracy, which depends on dynamism and persuasion to thrive – and suffers when parties assume a group of voters is, or is not, in. permanently in their corner. The 2020 Democratic autopsy, conceived as a warning, may well offer a glimpse of a hopeful path forward.