Christmas is the only religious holiday that is designated a federal holiday, despite the fact that separation between church and state is one of the fundamental tenets of American democracy. Will this change?
The demographic changes that are sweeping through America are causing traditional American society, dominated by European influences, to slowly fall by the wayside. Even today, one cannot become elected president without significant support from the Latino, African-American and Asian voting blocs.
According to the Census Bureau, there are already four states where minorities are more than 50 percent of the population.
These four states include two of the biggest ones according to population: California and Texas. The other two are New Mexico and Hawaii. Though not a state, Washington, D.C. is also in this group. Texas and California are practically bilingual states. Most official business can be done in Spanish nowadays. New York, which has a 40 percent foreign-born population, conducts official business in eight languages (Polish is not one of them). The younger Americans are, the more likely they are to be a minority.
Last month, nearly 87 percent of elderly voters were white. Among 30-year-old voters, whites constituted only 58 percent of voters.
You can’t cheat demographics. “The next half century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” says Thomas Mesenbourg, Acting Director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
These changes all took place in the span of 50 years. In 1960, whites accounted for 85 percent of the population. The doors to America were opened with the passage of a new immigration bill in 1965. America saw an influx of immigrants from Mexico, Latin America and Asia. In 2000, whites were only 69 percent of the population; that number slipped to 64 percent in 2010.
Experts predict that in 30 years, every ethnic group in America will be considered a minority. By 2043, according to the models, non-Latino whites will dip below the 50 percent threshold. In that same span of time, the Asian population will double; the number of mixed marriages will increase as well. The Census Bureau predicts that by 2060, the number of mixed-race people will grow to about 27 million. The most dynamic growth will be among the Hispanic population, which is defined in the U.S. as an ethnic, not racial, group. Black, white and Native American populations all fit into this category. It was the Latinos who experienced a sharp rise in numbers due to legal and illegal immigration during the ‘90s and early 2000s. Today, the rate of immigration has slowed somewhat, due to the financial crisis, but the Latinos living in the U.S. also have the highest birth rates.
Today, one in six Americans has descendants from Latin America, but that number will rise to one in three by 2060. Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, an immigration expert at UCLA, notes that immigrants have the highest birth rates. He also predicts that if the trends hold, the U.S. will be the first post-industrial nation where minorities will be in the majority.
Ethnic shifts will also be accompanied by generational ones. In 30 years, the entire post-war Baby Boomer generation will be of retirement age. This generation was mostly white. Among the younger generations, the majority will be minorities.
Even today, 45 percent of all students between kindergarten and high school are Latinos, blacks, Asians or other races. All of these shifts have serious implications on politics as well. In this year’s presidential election, none of the candidates on the ballot was a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). A majority of the Supreme Court justices are Catholics or Jews. And President Obama would not have won his second term without the support of 78 percent of the minority vote.
This is a new majority that can decide the identity of 21st-century America. “Barack Obama embodies the cultural shift that America is going through,” wrote Richard Stengel of Time magazine, which just named Obama Person of the Year. According to him, Obama was able to form a coalition of minorities, Latinos and educated women.*
"If his win in 2008 was extraordinary, then 2012 is confirmation that demographic change is here to stay," Stengel said. Many of the new Asian and African immigrants are also Muslims. However, the United States will not see the disappearance of Christmas from federal calendars. After all, Catholic and Christian Latinos are the fastest growing group in the U.S. right now. However, there is a possibility that in 50 years Americans will go caroling in Spanish, and instead of the Christmas turkey, the main dish will be tamales, bunuelos and “chocolate caliente.”
*Editor’s Note: Quote corroborated but not verified.