The End of the Rainbow
In the conclusion of Goethe's epic Faust, the great magician who has made a pact with the devil hears the clinking of shovels. Faust, who is blind, believes he is listening to the sound of workers on a project he is promoting to reclaim land from the sea for the benefit of mankind. In fact, the shovels are in the hands of demons, who are digging Faust's own grave.
American liberalism faces a similar irony. For the past generation, the left has been identified with the strategy of what Jesse Jackson calls the Rainbow Coalition. Where the old left assigned the vanguard role in history to factory workers, the New Left assigns it to people of color. The assumption has been that policies such as affirmative action and racial redistricting would unite blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans politically. Sympathetic whites would be permitted to join the coalition, but white concerns about reverse discrimination would be dismissed as racist. In time, many on the left assumed, "rainbow liberalism" would triumph purely as a result of demographic trends, as California, Texas, New York, and eventually the whole country acquired nonwhite majorities.