A short note on minorities and the Left

Lately I have been thinking about how minorities affect the Democratic Party here in the US. Basically, all minorities vote for the Democrats in national elections, but minorities tend to be conservative culturally. This has the effect of pulling the Leftist party waaaaay to the center (a fact that makes it hard for me to complain about Democrats’ pandering tactics).

Sure, the GOP will always be the party of old white people, but if the Democrats’ left-wing is essentially neutered due to minority voting blocs within the Party, who cares?

The fact that the Democrats pine for minorities explains why the US has never had a very powerful socialist movement. Socialists will often blame “neoliberals,” “capitalists,” “reactionaries,” and other assorted boogeymen, but doesn’t the minority insight make much more sense?

This minority insight has also got me thinking about demographic changes in Europe over the past 30 years. Basically, Europe has had a huge influx of immigrants since the fall of socialism. In the old days, Sweden was for Swedes, France was for the French, Germany was for Germans, etc. etc. This  mindset helps to explain why European states had such overbearing welfare states and why economic growth was so limited up until the late 1980s.

As immigrants moved into these welfare states, the Left-wing parties began to pander to them. This had the same effect as it did in the United States: culturally conservative voting blocs diluted the Leftism of traditionally Left-wing parties. As a result, these welfare states became less robust and economic growth became attainable again.

A big underlying point about my musings on this subject is that socialism relies on nationalism in the area of popular politics and policymaking. Without Sweden for the Swedes-type sloganeering, socialism becomes ridiculous to the masses. This underlying point, along with the straightforward fact that immigrants dilute socialist power (economic, political, and cultural), suggests to me that libertarians who pay close attention to popular politics should relax when it comes to the fact that minorities don’t find libertarian ideals all that appealing.

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18 thoughts on “A short note on minorities and the Left

  1. ‘…if the Democrats’ left-wing is essentially neutered due to minority voting blocs within the Party, who cares?” People like me 😀 Specifically when the ‘cultural conservatism’ involves LGBT rights and reproductive rights.

    “…the fact that minorities don’t find libertarian ideals all that appealing.” IMO, the libertarian ideas that minorities don’t find appealing are the same ones that most people don’t find appealing: the sparkly unicorn fart notion that ‘free market competition’ will solve all ills.

    • And here your fallacy for today, Dr A:

      the sparkly unicorn fart notion that ‘free market competition’ will solve all ills.

      Emphasis mine. Libertarians simply argue that incentives-based competition is better than the blank check option favored by most Leftists. One of the big reasons I left the Left is because of its inability to comprehend outcomes not based on a sacrificial conformity by some for the (supposed) benefit of the many.

      • I must defer to you when it comes to what Libertarians argue. However much of what I’ve seen on NOL seems at odds with that description. Incentives-based competition is a far cry from what the anarcho-capitalists drone on about and even the more mainstream libertarians seem oblivious to the work on market failure by people like Coase, and Williamson.

    • Also, don’t forget that the party’s Left-wing doesn’t have a monopoly on LGBT rights or reproductive rights. Libertarians and neoconservatives have long fought for these things within the Right; the confusion comes about because they place these rights under the umbrella of individual rights rather than giving them a condescending place of their own.

      • “… the confusion comes about because they place these rights under the umbrella of individual rights…” It’s not a matter of ‘confusion’ it’s a matter of saying out of one side of the mouth that homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals and out of the other side of the mouth that people have the right to discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of public services. Similarly, it wasn’t that long ago that Lester Maddox was being touted on NOL.

      • It is confusion though. Here:

        that people have the right to discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of public services.

        Emphasis mine. You and other Leftists are confused because you guys conflate “public services” with private property. Public services/goods are those things which are deemed too large or too important to be left to the market to distribute, such as roads or militaries. A restaurant or a bakery is not a public service.

        Leftists continue to lose influence and power among the intelligent largely because they keep making arguments that aren’t careful about distinguishing between such easily identifiable concepts…

      • As to your second point…
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_accommodations

        If there is any branch of libertarians that does not believe that the owner of a private business should be allowed to refuse service to Coons, Spics, Greasers, Towel Heads, Slopes, Queers, and Dykes let me know which flavor it is.

        There should be no surprise “…to the fact that minorities don’t find libertarian ideals all that appealing.”

      • Wikipedia articles? BORRR-RRRIIIINNNG!!

        You keep burning down straw men, Dr A, and declaring victory, but all I see as far as the eye can see is less and less appeal for statist policies coming from intelligent, thoughtful millennials.

        If there is no right to discriminate, how will people be able to choose right from wrong? And, of course, who will do the choosing for them if they are not allowed to do so? In the old days a priestly caste did the thinking for the people. Now, Leftists want to do the thinking for us. I am reminded of Dr J’s continued insistence that Leftist dogma is merely one religion among many…

        PS: Your link to transaction costs was cool, but I wanted examples of arguments made by libertarians that supposedly ignore the work of Coase and Williamson.

      • “You keep burning down straw men, Dr A, and declaring victory, but all I see as far as the eye can see is less and less appeal for statist policies coming from intelligent, thoughtful millennials.”

        You seem to have wandered into some other thread, THIS one is about “…the fact that minorities don’t find libertarian ideals all that appealing.” I’m not a Libertarian so feel free to make it clear to minorities that removing the 1964 civil rights act barring discrimination in public accomodations so that Libertarian heroes like segregationist Lester Maddox can do as they wish is a centerpiece of Libertarian policy. Make it crystal clear that ‘statist policies’ like civil rights laws have to go. Despite your implication that minority communities are not intelligent and thoughtful, I believe the opposite is true. The fact that minorities don’t find libertarian ideals all that appealing is because they know a bad deal when they see it.

        BTW, what’s is the appeal of libertarian ideals for environmentalists? I wonder how they feel about removing ‘statist policies’ like environmental regulations…

      • Despite your implication that minority communities are not intelligent and thoughtful, I believe…

        I can’t argue with your imagination, Dr A. You’re starting to sound more and more like Dr J in his old age…

  2. Not sure if the analysis around minorities and socialist politics makes sense. Immigrant groups in the US have typically been much, much more interested in socialist politics than established White American communities.

    Italian immigrants formed militant anarchist groups, Irish immigrants were connected with socialist and nationalist politics of the homeland, Japanese and Filipino workers were heavily involved in labor organizing and linked with the international communist movement in the mid-century, Marxist-Leninist and Maoist politics were popular in Asian immigrant communities in the ’60s and up through the ’80s. Likewise, non-migrant minority groups have always been much more drawn to the radical left; think of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords of the ’60s, or their contemporaries in the Chicano Liberation movement in the south-west.

    • Those weren’t really popular, though.

      All of those movements have been glorified by a Leftist narrative, sure, but nearly all immigrants come here to the US to set up businesses, places of worship, and schools or educational programs that help their children assimilate into the mainstream of American society.

      Those marginal groups you list are all popular in (equally marginal) scholarship on ideologically marginal communities, but they’ve never, ever been popular. (That’s why they end up making the news.)

  3. I’m not 100% sure this makes sense. Why would a group that is primarily culturally conservative be adverse to socialism, which (ostensibly) has policies that don’t directly impact culture, but just economics, be adverse to socialism? (Of course, economic policies do have a connection to socio-cultural outcomes but 1. I doubt most voters-minority or otherwise-realize this and 2. if anything socialism would be most compatible with cultural conservatism since it is the rapid change of markets that undermine existimg cultural values and prote ciltural change.) I see minorities pushing left-leaning parties to the center on social issues, but I don’t see a connection to pushing them away from socialist economic policies as far as voting blocs are concerned.

    • Why would a group that is primarily culturally conservative be adverse to socialism,

      A good question, Zak, but it doesn’t quite fit my argument.

      It’s not that culturally conservative groups are adverse to socialism, it’s that culturally conservative out-groups (immigrants and African-Americans) tend to vote for Left-wing parties, and this has the effect of diluting socialism’s appeal to the broader public; mostly because the broader public then sees socialism as a platform that isn’t concerned with their desires (instead it’s for minorities), and also because those minorities won’t be the main recipients of any type of redistributive schemes anyway (the broader white public will be, instead).

      It’s a lose-lose situation for those hoping socialism will work via the political process, and win-win for the broader public and those hoping for more a more liberal society.

  4. Some quotes:

    One reason more immigration doesn’t lead to bigger government, or at least grow government more rapidly, is that open immigration laws make native voters oppose welfare because they believe immigrants will be the primary beneficiaries. As Paul Krugman aptly observed, “Absent those [immigration] restrictions, there would have been many claims, justified or not, about people flocking to America to take advantage of [New Deal] welfare programs.” The late Cornell University labor historian and immigration restrictionist Vernon M. Briggs Jr. echoed Krugman when he wrote, “This era [of immigration restrictions] witnessed the enactment of the most progressive worker and family legislation the nation has ever adopted.”

    In other words, Roosevelt’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society programs could only have been created because immigration was so heavily restricted, thus removing the most effective political argument against expanding welfare. Those programs wouldn’t have been politically possible to create in an era of mass immigration. That could be a very good political reason for conservatives to embrace ethnic, religious, and racial diversity as another means to achieve economic policy goals. http://thefederalist.com/2016/06/07/american-conservatives-should-adopt-libertarian-immigration-policy/

    +

    Overall, the cross-country evidence, the cross-state evidence […] suggest that hostility between the races limits support for welfare. It is clear that racial heterogeneity within the US is one of the most important reasons why the welfare state in America is small. http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

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