Can America function as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy?

The GOP and, sadly, a few white Democrats like Manchin want to answer that question with a definite “No.”


This weekend, Louise and I took a long drive to a small town in a rural part of Oregon. Watching people walk down the street, we imagined we could identify who would vote Democratic and who would vote Republican largely by how they looked and dressed (and who wore a mask or didn’t). 

It sounds like a very superficial analysis, but take a look at the people who show up for Republican party meetings versus the folks who show up for Democratic party meetings. Or the people who show up to protest police violence and the people who show up to “support the police.”

When a country’s politics ceases to be about policy and starts being about identity, that country is going through some sort of a radical societal shift. Which is exactly what’s happening today, and too few people are discussing it for what it is.

America right now is struggling with a very simple and very fundamental question, at the core of that shift. 

Will we become a multi-ethnic, mult-iracial, multi-religious (and non-religious) society? Or will we remain what we have largely been, for all practical purposes, since the founding of the republic — a white, Christian, European-ancestry ethnostate (in terms of who controls politics and economics)?

The election of Barack Obama was a statement of the possibility of a multiracial society, but it so galvanized white racists that one could argue it brought us Donald Trump. The backlash was massive and continues to this day, particularly in white rural America.

When Republicans talk about “Anglo-Saxon Judeo-Christian values” what they’re saying is that America has always been — and they want us to continue to be — a nation whose identity and power-wielding institutions are based on whiteness, patriarchy and Christianity. Most of the Founders would’ve disagreed strongly about the Christianity part, but the whiteness and patriarchy parts would not have found much dispute.

In the 1960s whites were over 85% of the US population; today they are approaching 60%. A lot of that change came about because of LBJ’s changes in the immigration laws in 1965, taking away what were essentially racial quotas to immigration. They were sped up by Reagan’s changes to our immigration laws, instantly legalizing 3 million Hispanics and allowing white employers to hire non-white non-citizens without fear of repercussion. 

Thus, America is now much more diverse than just 50 years ago, and a lot of white people are quite freaked out about it. Those white people have become the core or “base” of the Republican party.

The decision Joe Manchin just made is to throw in with the GOP and those who want America to continue to be a white Christian ethnostate. His editorial saying he won’t vote for the For The People Act lays it out, in fact.

He suggests Democrats are “politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections.” This after 2020 was, according to numerous courts and every objective observer, one of the most “secure” elections in our history. More people were struck by lightning in the past year than committed “voter fraud.”

As Congressman Mondaire Jones tweeted,“Manchin’s op-ed might as well be titled, ‘Why I’ll vote to preserve Jim Crow.’”

The only people talking about “securing” our elections are Republicans who don’t want young people, people of color, poor people or Social Security-age people to vote.

If they can seize control of our election systems in a way that allows them to throw out or simply refuse to count ballots from non-white, young, poor and older people then we are in deep trouble.  And that’s exactly what’s embedded in most of the GOP’s so-called “election integrity” laws to “secure elections.”

It’s all about re-asserting white rule in the face of a demographically changing country.

Donald Trump tried to take us a ways down this road, changing immigration quotas and supporting efforts to block democracy in America. Now he’s gone another step and is denigrating and thus actively trying to tear down democracy in this country.

And Republicans in state after state are totally with him. They decided the don’t like democracy if it means that non-white people or non-Christian people have a say in how things are done.

And now that such folks are voting in large numbers, Republicans decided to take action to prevent such folks from either voting or having their votes counted.

The history of political power in America in this regard is pretty straightforward.

From 1776 to 1920, the big political question America struggled with was, “Can white men govern themselves?” 

From 1920 (19th Amendment) to 1965, the question was, “Can white men and women govern themselves?”

Since 1965 (Voting Rights Act), the question has finally become, “Can America function as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy?“

The GOP and, sadly, a few white Democrats like Manchin want to answer that question with a definite “No.”


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If you’d like to do a deeper dive on these topics, I’ve written a series of small, quickly-read books breaking them down. 

The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment describes that Amendment’s roots in the Southern Slave Patrols and how American policing grew out of that and is used today as a violent system of control against marginalized people.

The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America lays out how a corruptly-stacked Supreme Court is the principal instrument that brought us here. 

The Hidden History of the War on Voting describes the processes through which oligarchs corrupted the Republican Party and the American political system. 

The Hidden History of Monopolies describes how the oligarchic class, exploiting weaknesses within our political system, managed to seize control of virtually our entire economy, giving them massive political power. 

The Hidden History of American Oligarchy reveals the two previous times in this country when we almost tipped over into oligarchy [the Civil War era and the attempts to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt] and exposes oligarch efforts to pull it off again today and how we can stop them. 

And The Hidden History of American Healthcare shows how the most important and central function of government — maintaining the health and well-being of its people — has been co-opted and seized by a small group of “healthcare oligarchs” and how a Medicare For All system can overthrow much of their power and end their plunder of the American middle class.

All are available through your favorite bookseller.