Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Just in time for the inauguration, I can't resist one more political campaign note. Take a look at the graphic above. It's conventional wisdom that people's life-long political leanings become fixed in their first few votes. Unless something changes, an overwhelming cohort of Democrats are coming along.
What the graphic obscures is that an ever-enlarging fraction of the "youth vote" is made up of people who would be expected to lean toward the Democrats because they are people of color: Black, Latino or of an Asian-origin.
In 2020, the census projects that whites will be only 60 percent of the population, as opposed to about 66 percent today. In 2040, whites will be only a 51 percent share.
Those "youth voters" are the leading edge of a momentous demographic shift in what the people of the United States look like and where our ancestors came from.
And that demographic change may be the real import of the Obama presidency. Maybe the skinny guy with the African name brings not so much novel policy prescriptions (existing realities can be awfully confining, often in sad ways) as a new imaginative universe which we are all going have to learn to live in.