New Study Finds Whites Abandon Democracy When ‘Marginalized People’ See Gains

Written by Ann Brown

America prides itself on promoting democracy across the world, but back home, democracy goes out the window when race is involved, according to a new study.

When intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy, according to the findings of  “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy” a working paper by political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M universities, NBC News reported.

Is this part of the Trump effect? Well, many political observers point to the increasing political polarization on left and right and fear that this may lead to the destruction of democratic norms and institutions.

The study makes a connection between white America’s intolerance and preference for authoritarian rule. “In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy,” NBC News reported.

Authors Miller and Davis relied on data from the World Values Survey, a research project organized by international social scientists. They polled individuals in various countries on the subject of beliefs and values.

“Based on surveys from the United States, the authors found that white people who did not want to have immigrants or people of different races living next door to them were more likely to be supportive of authoritarianism. For instance, people who said they did not want to live next door to immigrants or to people of another race were more supportive of the idea of military rule, or of a strongman-type leader who could ignore legislatures and election results,” NBC News reported.

The World Values Survey went from 1995 to 2011, but Miller and Davis’ paper notes that Trump has exacerbated these feelings.

The browning of America is also significant.

“White people continue to decrease as a percentage of the U.S. population; at some point, it’s going to be impossible to win a national, democratic American election with a platform that alienates people of color. The GOP, seeing their coming demographic apocalypse, has pushed voter ID laws and other barriers to voting to try to prevent black and other minority voters from getting to the polls,” NBC News reported.

The study concluded that the growing concentration of intolerant white voters in the GOP,  “has created a party which appears less and less committed to the democratic project. When faced with a choice between bigotry and democracy, too many Americans are embracing the first while abandoning the second.”

Gage Skidmore