Race and Virginia’s Emerging Democratic Majority

by James A. Bacon

Virginia is fast reaching a demographic tipping point at which “residents of color” will account for a majority of the state’s population, states a policy brief by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Since 2000, residents of color have accounted for 76.1% of the state’s population growth. In 2008, 40% of all children born in the state were children of color.

This is great news for Democrats, gloats the report. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama won the state by 230,000 votes, snagging 92% of the African-American vote and 65% of the Hispanic vote. (No numbers for the Asian-American vote.)

The General Assembly has considered or passed legislation that will “adversely affect communities of color,” including stricter voter ID laws and an “Arizona- and Alabama-styled immigration law.” The CAP report also highlights Prince William County’s ordinance instructing police officers to obtain the legal status of people who are arrested.

Democrats couldn’t be any more explicit about their strategy of achieving a race-based electoral majority based on identity politics. They are convinced that, in the long run, the politics of racial grievance mongering is a winning electoral strategy. And, as long as Republicans play into their hands by enacting legislation that can be construed, fairly or unfairly, as targeting minorities, the Democrats will succeed.

It’s time to pivot. Illegal immigration into the United States has peaked. Illegal immigration created real social and fiscal problems, but the wave is receding. Recent research has shown that more illegals are going home than entering the country. The tepid American economy is only one factor at work. Birth rates in Hispanic countries like Mexico that account for most illegal immigrants are falling. At the same time, the Mexican economy is growing considerably faster than that of the U.S. Meanwhile, the federal e-Verify system is cutting down on the hiring of illegal immigrants, while the cost and risk of entering the country illegally is increasing.

A lot of Republicans haven’t gotten the message. They persist in fixing a problem that shows every sign of fixing itself, and they’re ticking off a lot of Hispanics in the process. Frankly, in the current political environment, I’m amazed that even one-third of Hispanics vote Republican. Continuing to sponsor legislation that alienates this fast-growing voter bloc is electoral suicide.

Meanwhile, what’s with the voter ID law? Is there really a problem of widespread voter fraud in Virginia? No, there isn’t. The GOP can argue that voter ID does not pose a meaningful barrier to voting, and it probably doesn’t. But why give the Dems an issue to demagogue? Politically, it’s a no-win issue.

Republicans need to spend more time thinking about how to create prosperity for all Virginians and showing how Democratic policies trap “people of color” in a culture of dependency and poverty. The Dems are wrong about a lot, but they’re right about one thing: In a few more decades, whites will become a minority in Virginia. If the GOP can’t articulate a vision that blacks, Hispanics and Asians can buy into, Republicans will become a minority, too.

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  1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Excellent points.

  2. Jim makes excellent points but it’s nothing but HOT AIR to the GOP!

    the GOP has also moved to the right of Jim – but the poor man still has days where he fondly wants to remain part of the tribe – a moderate tribe that no longer exists.


  3. Richard Avatar

    Of course racial grievance mongering has been a specialty of winning Southern policitians (who have been the Republicans since the Voting Rights Act) since blacks were allowed (or not allowed) to vote.

    It’s amazing to me how tone-deaf Reublicans are. From our Governor promoting our shameful Civil War (and post- CW) past, without mentioning slavery, to the voter i.d. rules that echo black voter suppression laws from the post-Reconstruction era, the Republicans have little sense of how these actions look to blacks and other “minority” groups (like Hispanics, women and gays).

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