As always happens after an election, the pundits and analysts this week went straight to work trying to explain what happened. A lot of things have been said, and will continue to be said. The big surprise, however, was what some of us have been saying for a while: America is experiencing drastic demographic changes.
In the election of 2000, not too long ago, white Americans made up 87% of those voting. This past week, that number dropped to 72%! That is 15% in just twelve years. The difference is the growing immigrant populations. In Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia, it was the emerging immigrant populations that made the difference. For example, the second largest city in Colorado is Aurora. The city is now among a number of cities all across the U.S. whose population is over half non-white. In Aurora’s case, there are large populations of Asians, Latinos, eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, and other people from around the world. Along the West Coast, it is the combination of Latino and Asian populations that have turned these states into Democratic strongholds. If we had the same demographics as we did twelve, or certainly twenty years ago, Governor Romney would have won by a landslide.
Whether we like it or not, we must realize that we are a changing America. And those changes will continue, perhaps at even a faster rate than these past twelve years. The United States has now become the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world. That’s right……we have passed up countries like Spain, Chile, and Argentina. Only Mexico is larger. This has profound implications for business, the media, commerce, politicians, and yes, the Church. We live in a changing America.
A question that has been repeatedly asked this past week is why did the immigrant communities vote so overwhelmingly for President Obama. (By the way, we are speaking of those immigrants who have become US citizens. There are still millions of others who are permanent residents or who are undocumented). It was not the economy. I even heard this week a Latino leader state that the Latino population was a better fit for the Republican Party. It was not the economy. It is what they have perceived as an anti-immigrant bias coming from the GOP. While it may be true that much of the political rhetoric stopped after the presidential primaries, and that Governor Romney shifted his stance somewhat on some issues, it was perceived as too little, too late. The big warning this week is that the GOP must embrace and welcome and listen to the immigrant communities. If not, we will cease to have two strong political parties here in the US. No matter where we stand politically, we should recognize that is not good for our country.
Believe it or not, this blog post is not intended to make some political statement or analysis. Rather, it is an appeal to the Church to recognize that we are a changing America. And like the business world, or the political world, we must make the appropriate changes to embrace and welcome and listen. What is so sad, and even grieving to the Lord, is that a large amount of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the past five years or so has come from those who identify with the evangelical Church here in America. While I know that most of the Church would not endorse such things, the Church overall has been silent. That is exactly what happened to the GOP. Many chose to be silent rather than to stand up against the rhetoric. Let the Church not make the same mistake again.
Next week, I will be talking more specifically on the response the Church must have toward the changing demographics in America.