We keep getting told that demographics favor the Democrats and look bad for the Republicans, as America becomes more ethnically diverse, a phenomenon particularly evident in the growing Hispanic vote. But Josh Gelertner gives us a history lesson putting all of this into context.
He points out that ever since the machine politics of Boss Tweed in the 1850s, Democrats have pandered to immigrants fresh off the boat in exchange for their votes. Thus the Irish became an important part of the Democratic base. The same thing happened with the next wave of immigrants, the Italians. But after awhile, each of these groups assimilated into American culture, whereupon they stopped voting exclusively for the Democrats.
He then argues that the same thing will happen to Hispanics–indeed, that it has already started to happen. Today, no one talks about the Irish or the Italian vote, though they used to. The same thing, Gelertner says, will happen with all immigrant groups. The American melting pot keeps working.
Read his argument after the jump, including how anti-Hispanic sentiment today is similar to the anti-Irish and anti-Italian sentiment of the past. Does he have a point, or is he too sanguine about immigration?
He seems to assume that cultural assimilation happens naturally. In the past, America worked hard to “Americanize” its immigrants. This was a major task for schools. As late as my day, we had lots of American history (in which Americans were portrayed as good guys), required Civics classes (teaching the Constitution and the workings of Democracy), and even lessons in “Americanism” (Cold War anti-communism, including the superiority of individualism over collectivism, free market economics over socialism, and freedom over regimentation). Instead, schools today teach multiculturalism. Cultural assimilation is impossible if there is no particular culture to assimilate to.