Drop in Birth Rates, Rise of Single Voters Set Rightbloggers to Raving
So we were happy for them and for ourselves when some recent reports showed that U.S. birth rates have fallen to historic lows. This excited the brethren, as it touched on some of their favorite themes, such as contempt for the childless and the fear that unless America churns its childbirth up to Yours, Mine, and Ours levels, the nation cannot long survive.
We should note that rightbloggers have long been concerned with the U.S. birth rate, for a number of reasons. For one thing, they worry that if America doesn't outbreed its enemies, democracy is in peril. "The Islamic world is reproducing at a rate far above replacement level," as Robert Maynard wrote at Renew America in 2010, while "America is about in the middle with a birth rate barely above replacement level." The reason: "While we in the west are mired in nihilism, multicultural relativism and self-doubt, radical Muslims have a fanatical devotion to spreading their cause." Many lunatics and at least one GOP County Committee member have picked up the theme, though its premise is specious at best.
That goes for rightbloggers' domestic enemies as well: In the years before the Obama boom, rightbloggers took to reassuring themselves that, since red state procreation rates were higher than blue state rates, a Republican electoral majority was all but assured for the foreseeable future.
That's how Joel Kotkin explained Bush's victory in 2004: "Last month, Democrats swept the largely childless cities--true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation--but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down," he wrote. "... the problem for Democrats isn't that they are losing among families now. The real problem is that the electoral importance of both nuclear families and the communities where they are congregating is only growing."
He added that this also spelled trouble for Democrats among "the Latino population--which tends to be more family-oriented than any other group in society... if Latino voters continue to move into the middle class, buy houses, and relocate to more conservative areas... Democrats may have a hard time holding on to them."
This cheered RedState: "Republicans are winning the baby battle!" Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit quoted a reader, "So, 'dumb rednecks breeding in their double-wides' turns out to be 'America's demographic secret weapon'?" "Liberal 'Fertility Gap' Should Worry Democrats," announced NewsMax.
"White birthrates and Republican voting are closely correlated," determined nativist Steve Sailer at The American Conservative. "...Lower density helps explain why red regions both attract the baby-oriented and encourage larger families among those already there." As is his wont, Sailer also told readers that white liberals in Manhattan don't like black people, who are all criminals. "Nobody noticed that the famous blue-red gap was a white baby gap," Sailer added, "because the subject of white fertility is considered disreputable." (Not for long, though: He was quoted enthusiastically by David Brooks.)
Wait'll they see this at the next Republican National Committee meeting!
While "Red State fertility is not a hard fast rule," said RedState in 2006, "nonetheless, we also note that Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were squeakers in 2004 election, indicating a significant Red presence in the population..." "The more America's secular/progressive blue states emulate shrinking socialist countries of Europe in their politics and mores," wrote Tom McLaughlin in 2007, "the more their birth rates go down. By contrast, religious/conservative red states have much higher birth rates." Thus, "traditional religion and culture alive by producing children and staying together to raise them. That's the whole point of marriage - staving off extinction."
This thinking progressed to the point where libertarian Bryan Caplan declared that "the most realistic long-run path to liberty is boosting libertarians' Total Fertility Rate to 3." As recently as March, Glenn Reynolds quoted a rightwing reader who said of child-poor blue-state liberals, "They do realize that knuckle-dragging troglodytes like Santorum, Romney, (and me -- with 3) will outbreed them thus winning in the long run right?" Etc.
Just before the 2012 election, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics issued a report that showed historically low fertility rates. Rightbloggers seemed unsure what to do with this news. On the one hand, like everything else they didn't like, it was something they could blame on Obama; on the other, they at least dimly grasped that if the rate was down nationally, it might also be down in the red states where they were expecting a tsunami of rightwing baby voters.
David P. Goldman (aka Spengler) alarmed his readers at the Asia Times that "America is in incipient decline, and this week's presidential election might be the last chance to reverse it" via the elevation of Romney. Goldman was particularly stricken by NCHS's revelation of a "sudden drop in Hispanic fertility" -- that is, from 165 births per thousand women aged 20-24 in 2007 to 115 in 2011. This was apparently because he'd been under the impression that Hispanics were religious, and therefore would pump out kids and vote Republican; but their decreasing resemblance to Irish Catholic families in old movies suggested that they were going secular on him, "the next generation will be far less Catholic than their parents," and they "will vote on federal handouts rather than faith."
Joel Kotkin hurriedly endeavored to make lemons of lemonade, arguing that while "Democratic party strategists see their numbers as simply too large to ignore... [their] grip on power may not be sustainable for more than a generation. After all they, by definition, will have no heirs. This, notes author Eric Kauffman, hands the long-term advantage to generally more conservative family-oriented households, who often have two or more offspring. Birth rates among such conservative populations such as Mormons and evangelical Christians tend to be twice as high than those of the nonreligious." Thus Kotkin's glorious vision of the future was not disproven, but merely pushed ahead a few cycles.
Gary DeMar of Political Outcast seemed to agree: "Lower Birth Rate Could be Good News for Conservatives," he headlined. "While pro-abortion liberals are pushing the abortion and contraception cart, Christian conservatives with their large families will dominate the culture in a generation or two... While we all can't be the Duggars, we can have more children than the liberals."
Godfather Politics claimed that the press was "afraid to admit the truth" about the rate drop (though it was very well publicized) "because it will reflect poorly on Obama at such a vulnerable time in the election, so let's surprise them and show everyone what's really going on."
This cheer was muted when Obama, buoyed by armies of the childless, won reelection. But recently, as rightbloggers begin to recover themselves and take up the cudgels of culture war again, they have returned to the theme -- this time portraying it as part of the liberal plot to destroy America.