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Immigration

Schrödinger’s Demographic Change

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Reuters)

Caroline reports that Senator Dick Durbin, of Illinois, has some thoughts on America’s demographic future:

“The demographics of America are not on the side of the Republican party. The new voters in this country are moving away from them, away from Donald Trump, away from their party creed that they preach,” Durbin stated.

Leave aside for a moment whether this is true — I’m skeptical: I’m always rendered deeply uncomfortable by this sort of blunt racial determinism, and, either way, given the numbers from 2020 election, it’s an odd time for Durbin to make this particular case — and consider instead how deeply weird it is that the social appropriateness of comments such as Durbin’s seems to depend entirely upon the political worldview of the speaker. When made triumphantly by figures such as Dick Durbin, or in books such as The Emerging Democratic Majority, the claim that “demographics will destroy the GOP, all we need to do is wait” is held to be fine. When it is made in anger by figures who don’t like Dick Durbin, and don’t want it to be true, it’s a racist conspiracy theory that is only advanced by white supremacists.

But it can’t be both.

What Durbin has suggested is a testable hypothesis. It is either true or it’s not, and its integrity is not affected by observation. Evidently, Durbin believes that it is true. It cannot be the case that if a progressive agrees with him and smiles, that’s good, but if a conservative disagrees with him, and pouts, that’s bad. That way lies madness.

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