The Relevant Forms of Diversity

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

There are many types of diversity, Tyler Cowen notes:

Diversity of occupation, diversity of musical taste, diversity of outlook, diversity of residence, and of course varying kinds of racial and ethnic diversity. You could list thousands of kinds of diversity.

The original thinking behind the Electoral College was that geographic diversity was important. The Founding Fathers were not majoritarian, but rather they believed in placing special weight on diversity of this kind. The prevailing view was “if too many (geographically) diverse voices veto you, you can’t get elected, not even with a majority of the votes.” That view was a strange and perhaps unlikely precursor of today’s veto rights/PC approach on campus, but there you go.

Democrats now control at least one legislative house in only 17 states, and the reach of the party is shrinking dramatically. So by the 18th century standards of diversity, emphasizing geography, the Democratic coalition is remarkably non-diverse. You can see how much of Hillary Clinton’s majority came from the two states of New York and California. That also means the Republicans are not just a “Southern rump party,” as some commentators used to suggest.

If you think of education as serving a smoothing function, the less educated are in some ways considerably more diverse than the educated.

The Democratic Party today is more likely to stress the relevance of ethnic and racial diversity, if the talk is about diversity. (Gender diversity too, but that requires its own post, maybe later to come.) Non-Democrats are more likely to count other forms of diversity for more than the Democrats do. I see Democrats as somewhat concentrated in particular cities and also in particular occupations, more than Republicans are. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is another way in which Democrats are less diverse.

When it comes to views about the relevant forms of diversity, the views of non-Democrats are more diverse than the views of Democrats, I would hazard to guess. A non-Democrat is more likely to focus on something other than racial and ethnic diversity, compared to a Democrat.

Correctly or not, many Americans do not think racial and ethnic diversity is the diversity that should command so much attention. That is one place to start for understanding why so many 2012 Obama voters switched to Trump this time around, or maybe just stayed home.


  1. Felix says:

    There will always be coin-flip elections. That’s a tough reality. The important thing to do with a coin-flip election is to flip the frigging coin and move on.

    The 2000 election demonstrated a compelling reason for the Electoral College: We’d still be air-dropping lawyers and recounting ballots from that election if the recounts were spread nationwide instead of being isolated to one state.

  2. Aretae says:

    This is my favorite TC in a long time…and I’m a pretty big TC fan. Good choice.

  3. Adar says:

    “I see Democrats as somewhat concentrated in particular cities and also in particular occupations”

    Concentrated in particular cities quite often WITHOUT any particular occupation.

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