If the Angry White Male revolution started in 1996, it had better hurry up and finish remaking the world in its 1950's image. It's about to become a minority. Last week, Texas became the fourth state where the majority of people are not White. California, New Mexico, and Hawaii are the other three, and in all of these states (except Hawaii), the majority is Hispanic. (Hawaii is, predictably, Asian) This, of course, is not a surprise. Hispanic population is up sharply, and by 2050 we should expect to see the US as majority Hispanic. What's interesting is that this is happening in such a pivotal state. Texas is about as Republican as states get, and in addition, happens to hold more electoral votes than any other state except California. Hispanics (with the exception of Cubans), traditionally have voted Democrat. In 2004, they voted somewhere like 60%-65% for Kerry.
So as absurd as it might sound, we might in the near future see Texas vote Democrat. Except for one thing: Hispanics don't vote. Well, some vote. The census bureau estimated that while 58% of the US population at large voted in the 2004 election, only 28% of Hispanics voted. So maybe Texas is safely in Republican hands for the foreseeable future after all. Don't hold your breath expecting Hillary to win the Lone Star State in 2008. But what we are looking at is the potential of a strange kind of apartheid-like system, where Whites hold power despite having a diminishing minority status.
I'm not suggesting that Texas would degenerate into a repressive regime with anti-Hispanic laws. But for a number of reasons, the will of the people wouldn't be the will of the state. Hispanics don't vote for a number of reasons. The most basic is that a large percent are not US citizens. In 2004, over 40% of Hispanic legal residents were not citizens of the US. These people live in the US, work in the US, pay taxes in the US, but don't get to participate in representative government. Many are trying to become citizens, but that is a long, difficult process that has grown more red tape since 9/11. The second reason is that many Hispanics are poor. For example, the households of only 0.4% of all Americans over 18 have an income under $10,000/year. But 6.5% of Hispanic households make less than that. Poor people in this country don't tend to vote - they have more pressing issues, like working 90 hours a week to be able to afford bread and rent. Even legal residents aren't protected by minimum wage laws in many cases - when you speak only broken English, you'll take the job that's available whether it pays a living wage or not.
Speaking of English, a third reason many Hispanics don't vote is because they are not tuned in to the language of national politics. George Bush may throw in a few Spanish words here and there to prove he's not a high-school dropout, but by and large, national politics takes place in English. I'm not saying it shouldn't - we can argue English-only policies some other time. But until Hispanics get a generation or two into this country, they will remain isolated linguistically. Which brings us to fourth - the Hispanic community is becoming more and more segregated away from mainstream America. Partially because new immigrants do this for comfort, but also because of the three reasons listed above, Hispanic communities generally don't have a lot of interaction with middle-class White communities. And so they're not as involved in the national dialogue and voting becomes something that belongs to another world.
In any event, it will be interesting to see how politics progress in Texas, and in America. When the next generation of English-speaking Hispanic Americans grows up to voting age, we my see a radical shift in how Texas votes. But not before some major ethnic conflict, if my guess is correct.