Gary Wills has a somewhat overwrought polemic up at the New York Review of Books, arguing that only its rapidly changing demographics will prevent America from sliding into a plutocracy. Haven’t the plutocrats already won, he asks rhetorically:
Not yet. There is help racing up over the horizon. The US Census for the year ending in July 2011, showed that white births in America were for the first time a minority compared to those of “minorities” (blacks, Hispanics, Asians). The state legislators seated by the 2010 elections have been fighting this drift with draconian immigration measures and new voter ID laws aimed at blacks and Hispanics, the young and the elderly. This slashing of the voter rolls may give them the edge of victory in 2012. But time is not on their side. It will get harder and harder to disqualify a growing majority of voters from non-plutocratic ranks.
This is at least preferable to the insipid multiculturalism mouthed by most politicians, who argue that the browning of America, or diversity, is good simply for some vague and unspecified reason, or simply because you are a bigot if you don’t agree. I have argued that a Buchananite foreign policy is more likely to emerge from a multicultural America than from one with where white Protestant masses take instruction from Jewish neoconservatives. But I’m not sure if I was right.
There are counterarguments to Wills which I’d like to see him contend with. Most of all, America’s social inequality has grown most rapidly during the recent age of high immigration (as it did during the last one, as well.) It may be that multiculturalism undermines the kind of social solidarity and cohesion a society needs to counteract the rich. In his recent book, Timothy Noah has, I understand, posited high immigration as one of the causes of America’s recent surge in inequality. (I haven’t read the book yet.)
Anyway, Wills is shooting from the cuff here, but I’d give him credit for at least making a political argument about multiculturalism and America’s changing demographics, instead of the usual feel-good mumbo jumbo.