Calling attention to America's identity crisis

A nation of 300 tribes?
It is not difficult to imagine America with a population structure in the ratio of 30%, 25%, 20%, and 25% and so on, among the so called races or ethnic groups - Caucasian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans Asian, and all the groups that inhabit the countless hyphenated American identities.

In an atmosphere of loss of the unity and common purpose which had been ensured by the supreme idea of individual rights, enshrined in the constitution and hitherto in the essence and consciousness of America, the disillusionment, frustration, and hopelessness caused by racial prejudice, America may find herself in a situation of frequent racial tension and clashes, as seen in some part of Europe, the Middle East, and most of Africa.

Imagine the what America would be like, a hundred years from now, when every ethnic group in America would have reached a critical mass, and those in their huge numbers say 150 million Americans, 100 million Americans, 75 million Americans, 50 million, 35 million, 25 million Americans, and so on, in a divided and divisive political, social and economic atmosphere.

The essence of democracy is the freedom of citizens to participate in their own governance through their votes and through public sentiments. This is the core of the American Constitution. By nature, the underlying current of the democratic process is people. As the saying goes, “majority carries the vote.” This makes democracy a “game of numbers.” However, this carries with it a certain risk, and that risk is increasingly becoming apparent and exploited. It is very common these days to hear ethnic and interest groups drop census data here and there, every now and then, intended to make political statements or to get the attention of politicians, and even as statements intended to convey threats or coercion to politicians who would do anything to get reelected. Recently, during the series of marches all over America for 12 million undocumented immigrants to be unconditionally given amnesty, these acts of political statements have been on display.

There is nothing basically wrong in giving population statistics as a statement of fact, even as a show of strength (or otherwise); however, when it is done to intimidate or blackmail politicians, it essentially hijacks or takes hostage the democratic process and creates an incendiary effect that causes polarization between the different groups that exist partly as a result of the practice. Ultimately, the democratic process and institutions become corrupted, and the security of America becomes compromised.

Since unprincipled politicians essentially court and reward this behavior, it indeed encourages division among ethnic, religious, and interest groups. This in turn heightens in group loyalty, diminishes individual rights, and exalts collective rights. These groups recognize the effect on the politicians of the power and influence they can wield when used in this manner. Nevertheless, the practice erodes the ideal of meritocracy and egalitarianism held in democracy; it is parallel to tribalism and fosters nepotism and other forms of discrimination. It sometimes creates unholy alliances, which ultimately cannot be good for America.

Excessive group allegiance, whether it is to political parties, interest groups, or ethnic (tribal) groups, undermines democracy and fragments America. It is undesirable, and it must be eradicated for true democracy to continue to survive and flourish in America.

Ethnic consciousness drives people to develop and maintain strong in group consciousness or loyalty that often surpasses national loyalty. It fosters corruption, nepotism, disunity, and undermines true democracy. This is the biggest threat to democracy in America, and, if allowed to continue, decade after decade, it will eventually lead to a situation much like what is prevalent in those countries of the world where democracy is marred by ethnic rivalry, hatred, violence, and destruction. This may not seem plausible now because of the extraordinary prosperity of the country, her relatively young age and the reins of the Constitution, all of which have provided a lot of wiggle room and resilience for people’s tolerance boundaries. The situation would likely be very different should the threshold of the elasticity of the country’s capacity to accommodate all these negative racial dynamics reach its limit.

Already, some demographic forecasts predict that racial minorities will be the numeric majority by the middle of the century and white Americans will be in the minority by the turn of the current century. In a situation where race is not a determinant factor, this would not matter (or become a matter for concern), since majority rule, power, and privilege would be predicated on common objective interests, ideals, and merit rather than on race. But in a situation where race is a factor, these predictions hold an ominous outcome.

It is in light of this potential shift in power and influence (and the potential resultant loss of privilege) by white Americans that some observers are concerned that many white Americans will then embrace the racist movements. The violent consequence of this would be of a catastrophic proportion that will rival, and perhaps surpass, the tragic ethnic conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Congo, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, that left millions dead and those nations in ruins.

This may very well be the matchstick that will set off the explosion that will set America ablaze. Already, the fuse is growing increasingly shorter, literally by the day, exacerbated by politicians exploiting the issue by playing groups against one another in the dubious political numbers game.

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