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The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, alternatively known as the Hart-Celler Act, opened America’s borders to the world, and forever changed the rules of political engagement in this nation. No longer was politics fought along primarily ideological (Right versus Left) or historical (North versus South) lines; instead, mass immigration made it exceedingly profitable to play the game of identity politics. By catering to the disparate group identities of new immigrants, the Democrats realized they could lock-up a potentially infinite source of voters.
And while it’s true that America’s political culture has always, to some degree, been mired in issues of identity due mainly to slavery’s legacy, it is also true that by 1965 the exploitation of black-white tensions was not a “growth market”—especially considering that the Democrats were on the losing side of the Civil Rights Movement. They needed a fresh source of reliable voters, and they created one.
Since 1965, more than 45 million people have immigrated to the United States, and America’s immigrant population is now at an all-time high. Obviously, immigration has added significant numbers of new voters, but perhaps less obvious is the fact that America’s immigrant population votes Democrat by an extraordinary margin.
According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, immigrants vote Democrat by a ratio of at least 2-to-1, and this gap is widening. This data is supported by a study from Pew Research, which finds that non-white Americans vote Democrat by a roughly 3-to-1 ratio. This is important only insofar as the vast majority of immigrants since the 1965 reforms are not white, and therefore there is significant overlap between the datasets—they prove the same point.
Not only do immigrants vote left, so do their children—and their children’s children. As it turns out, political affiliation is highly heritable, as Jonathan Haidt notes in The Righteous Mind. Of course, this is not to say that politics is genetic, but only that the beliefs and values that underpin a person’s political opinions are shaped by their upbringing.