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Column

Mindset, reality  at a crossroads  on social issues

Why does our social mindset oscillate between the past and the present? Or is our societal mindset still continuously operating in the past?

For example, it seems that the Trayvon Martin verdict has caused a lot of social backlash, particularly in the black community. It seems like we may have never left the 1980s era when race was still a major issue, especially when a recent Supreme Court’s decision was made to void a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — not to mention House Republicans want to dissolve immigration reform. Today is not 30 or more years ago, an era when biracial strife was far more prevalent.

Let us look at the facts. We are really not in a binary situation regarding race. Our nation is a multi-racial mix of approximately 310 million people where by 2040 or so nonwhites will outnumber whites. “The U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” said U.S. Census Bureau Acting Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg. Presently, Latinos outnumber blacks, while the population has a growing mix of Asians.

The U.S. Census Bureau as of December, 2012 depicts the following ethnic mixes: The non-Hispanic white population is presently at about 200 million with little change by 2024. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population is at 53.3 million and will surge to 128.8 million in 2060 at which time one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from about one in six today. The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.

The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of nation’s total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.

From a political standpoint, the 1980s was the last good time for the Republicans, as the Democrats were political sitting ducks. The Democrats portrayed criminals as social victims besides defending a morally corrupt welfare system. They considered Daniel Patrick Moyihan’s observation about the disintegration of the black family as “racist.” Finally Bill Clinton said during his first term in office that two-parent families were better for children than single mothers, causing most Democrats to make a statement “blaming the victim.” Thus the Republicans had the White House mostly locked in from 1980-2008, because they relied on a strong white majority. But that is in transition because of the change in the ethic mix taking place.

The Republicans have to focus more on getting ethnic minority votes if their candidates want to increase their chances for success in getting elected at the national level; while the Democrats must further exploit the minority mix for the same reason, but not with a welfare mentality. It is a no-no for the Republicans in the House to strip food stamps out of the farm bill under consideration. Moreover, the House Republicans cannot dismantle immigration reform as more negative votes from the Latino community could spell disaster for the Republicans. According to the traditional party oriented Republican strategists, any Senate version of the Immigration Reform Bill passed in Congress would spell disaster for the Republicans. The Republican Party approach to solving national political issues is still relying on a southern brand of conservatism that has lasted for over 40 years to still take them forward.

Recently, the Republican Supreme Court Justices played politics in liberating their Southern constituents by voiding the crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. This act which was a monument to racial justice during the 1960s has become a basis for racial division with its insistence on the creation of race-based congressional districts in the South.

Our country is moving forward in thinking, as the plural ethnic mix of citizens in our country becomes more influential in providing effective input toward the solutions of the problems facing our nation, whether they be social, economic, or political in nature. Republicans can no longer rely on a predominant all white influence, while Democrats must move beyond a type of welfare mentality. Our multi-racial future will make race a thing of the past.

Bill Chevalier is a resident of Peterborough.

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