The future that I envision amounts, depending on your perspective, to either a betrayal of the liberal dream or its completion. In this future, the traditional foundations of liberalism in economic justice and redistribution are amputated from the push for diversity in terms of race, gender, sexual identity, and related issues. Our elite institutions such as exclusive universities, large corporations, and political bodies come to recognize that the dearth of diversity within their halls makes the lie of meritocracy too obvious. It’s not difficult, after all, to look at the Fortune 500 companies and note the great paucity of women and people of color in the executive ranks. This lack of diversity is clear on its face. This is an embarrassment to these institutions, and helps to demonstrate that the great American story of equal opportunity and the self-made man is a myth. This obvious injustice prompts scrutiny, criticism, complaint, even while these institutions have demonstrated their ability to resist reform.
In the future I imagine, these elites essentially “get smart” about their lack of diversity. They endeavor to make their institutions more diverse, not out of any principled attachment to the moral case for diversity, but out of a self-protective need, an understanding that they have to get more diverse in order to preserve the status quo. They thus set about to achieve superficial diversity within their ranks. They probably won’t ever achieve true proportional representation, but will improve sufficiently to quell much of the criticism they’ve engendered. Note that this doesn’t require conspiracy or coordination; it could simply happen over time through the increasing prevalence of diversity discussions in our national conversation, as the savvier among our elite classes realize that they can’t ignore these criticisms forever.