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Opinion |  The fear that shapes American politics

Many whites already feel that they suffer from higher levels of discrimination than blacks and other minorities.

Craig and Richeson write:

It has also been found that organizational messages favorable to racial diversity reinforce the feeling among whites of personal and collective discrimination against them compared to neutral racial messages.

In addition, many white Republican and conservative-inclined are convinced that as minorities become more powerful, the left-wing coalition will become increasingly antagonistic towards them. Craig and Richeson write:

This research suggests, in other words, that whites are likely to perceive more anti-white discrimination in circumstances where they perceive that their group’s position in society is threatened.

Nour Sami Kteily, professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, emailed that he and Richeson had conducted a study that asked whites how much they agreed (7) or disagree (1) with statements such as:

If black Americans were to reach the top of the social hierarchy, they would want to stay at the top and keep other groups out.


If black Americans were to reach the top of the social hierarchy, they would devote all their efforts to creating a more egalitarian social system for all groups.

On average, whites fell halfway but, Kteily wrote, there was

large variation associated with being Republican versus Democrat, with Republicans more likely to believe that black Americans would use power to dominate. The difference is very statistically significant.

In a December 2019 article, “Demographic Change, Political Response, and Challenges in Studying Geography,” Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard, wrote:

The relationship between diversity and reactionary politics has to be seen as one of the most important socio-political issues facing the world today – it is almost certain that almost all developed countries and many developing countries will be more diverse. in a generation than they are today.

So, Enos continued,

if increasing diversity affects political outcomes, the relationship may turn in two consecutively different directions: towards greater diversity liberalizing politics or towards increased diversity causing reactionary reaction.

Biden’s election in 2020, combined with democratic control of the House and Senate, contained, at least momentarily, the reactionary backlash, but a liberalized policy has yet to be secured. What are the prospects for Democrats seeking to maintain, if not strengthen, their fragile hold on power?

Opinion debate
What should the Biden administration prioritize?

  • Nicolas kristof, Opinion columnist, writes that “Biden’s proposal to establish a national pre-K and child care system would be a huge step forward for children and for working parents.”
  • The Editorial Board argues that the president should approach a tax system where “most employees pay their fair share while many business owners engage in blatant fraud at state expense.”
  • Veronica escobar, a Democrat who represents El Paso, writes that “the real crisis is not at the border but outside, and that until we tackle this crisis, this flow of vulnerable people seeking help at our door will not stop. ”
  • Gail collins, Opinion columnist, has a few questions on gun violence: “First, what about gun control bills? The other is, what is filibuster? Is all that Republicans can do?

Turning to the next two elections, Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts, argued in an email that Biden will need to be cautious if he is to maintain victory margins for his party in 2022 and for himself in 2024:

I think a lot of the survey data we’ve seen in recent years indicates that many whites have fairly favorable attitudes towards welfare programs supported by the Democratic Party while they are often discouraged by the rhetoric and the party platform on the issue of race. and racism.

If the Biden administration, Schaffner wrote,

can continue to implement popular political agendas such as the US bailout and make the midterm elections a referendum on those policies rather than talks about racism, then he may be able to rally the coalition that l ‘helped win in 2020.

Robert Griffin, research director of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group non-partisan study group, wrote in an email that he expects “the national environment to be worse for Democrats in 2022 than it is. was in 2020 ”.

The change, he continued,

will almost certainly include a loss of support among white voters who – if history is any guide – will make up a larger share of the electorate in 2022 due to the midterm voter turnout dynamic.

Griffin wrote: “It’s not clear to me that this change will depend on Biden’s ability or failure to overcome white racial resentment,” because “these mid-point dynamics are pretty entrenched and it would be shocking to see them challenged. ”

On the bright side for Democrats, Griffin noted:

The growing educational divide among white Americans presents an exciting opportunity for the Democratic Party. One of the things most people don’t like is that the overrepresentation of white voters is almost entirely driven by white college voters. This over-representation of white college voters is even greater in the midterm elections. The growing educational divide among white voters – with Biden viewed much more favorably by white college voters – potentially dulls some of those midterm dynamics I’ve described.

I asked Griffin what the prospects were for Biden to build a stronger, more enduring Democratic coalition. He doubts:

If you had to choose one group that would do the most to solidify the democratic coalition electorally, it would be white non-university voters. They represent over 40% of the electorate and are exceptionally well represented in the Electoral College, the Chamber and the Senate.

Biden, continued Griffin,

Hillary Clinton’s margin improved slightly among those voters, but that was nothing huge. Given the Democratic Party’s remote long-term trends among those voters, even keeping its 2020 margins would likely be quite an achievement.

Based on his actions to date, Biden clearly disagrees and remains committed to strengthening both the white and minority side of the multi-racial Democratic coalition through legislative action.

In one of the ironies of politics, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin – who epitomizes the Democratic Party’s dilemma over race, ethnicity and immigration – has become a critical stumbling block to Biden’s ambition to embrace a transformation agenda.

West Virginia is 92 percent white, the third highest percentage in the country, surpassed only by Maine and Vermont. Within a generation, he underwent a virtually complete Republican realignment.

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