The day-to-day business of rightblogging — harrying Susan Rice, cheering on congressional Republicans, and so forth — is not very satisfying to us, nor (apparently, from their tedious writing on those subjects) to them.
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.)
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.
Last week the Pew Research Center issued a report based on the NCHS numbers, containing this paragraph:
This report does not address the reasons that women had fewer births after 2007, but a previous Pew Research analysis concluded that the recent fertility decline is closely linked to economic distress. States with the largest economic declines from 2007 to 2008, as shown by six major indicators, were most likely to experience relatively large fertility declines from 2008 to 2009, the analysis found.
At Catholic Lane, Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (an anti-contraception group so far out the Bush Administration had to withdraw funds from it), wrote that “Americans are having fewer children, and the Obama economy is to blame.” Mosher told us all the things that were worrying about the NCHS figures, including that “the teen birth rate fell farther than any other age group” — something normal people may find a good thing, but which Mosher deplored. “The Obama administration claims that this drop in the teen birth rate reflects their successful sex education and condom/birth control distribution schemes,” Mosher sneered. “In fact, it is a reflection of a moribund economy, especially for minority youth.” When black 15-year-olds start having more babies, you’ll know the recovery is serious.
“It’s an Obama World,” headlined Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, “US Birthrates at Lowest Level Since 1920 Due to Recession.” Scared Monkeys was even more direct: “Yet another record for the Barack Obama as he resides over the lowest birth rate in the United States since the 1920â€²s.”
Walter Russell Mead portrayed the trend as a “War Against The Young,” as if babies existed in the imagination and were massacred not only by abortion but also by Americans disdaining to conceive them. “American society is failing one of its essential tasks,” said Mead: “we are failing to provide an environment that allows a new generation to begin building families and bringing their children into the world.”
Though Pew said “even if the lower immigration influx of recent years continues, new immigrants and their descendants are still projected to account for most of the nation’s population increase by mid-century,” the Hispanic stats gave great pleasure to rightbloggers who don’t like brown people. The economy is “so bad,” wrote Brenda Walker at the nativist site VDare, “that even the famously fertile immigrants are having fewer babies.” Steve Sailer returned to ask, “the biggest plunge in fertility since the Subprime Bubble was among unmarried illegal immigrant women…. Is that so awful?” “Obama destroying Hispanic population,” puckishly headlined PoliPundit, and a reader showed in comments that he got the message: “We will always be out bred by the turd worlders among us.”
But most rightbloggers remained attentive to the big picture. At National Review, Mark Krikorian warned that “the drop in birth rates reported yesterday would appear to be moving us farther in the direction of Europe” — not toward six-week vacations, alas, but toward “ever-more government and ever-fewer babies” — and claimed the real problem was that Americans “can’t afford to have the number of children they’d like to have,” though he didn’t say how he knew the less-fruitful millions were all pining for big broods.
Also at National Review, Michael Walsh cried that “this is the end result of the sexual revolution: a society that either prevents or annihilates its own children today so that they won’t be around tomorrow to take care of their annihilators. Which I suppose serves the progressives right, although that is cold comfort to the rest of us.” (File this one under “One day you’ll be sorry.”)
At FrontPageMag, Daniel Greenfield focused on another stat from the reports, showing that more than 40% of U.S. births were to unmarried women. This seemed to disturb him greatly — mainly, it would seem, because women who should be skulking guiltily in shadows had exercised significant political power to defeat his candidate.
Greenfield referred to these citizens as “Brides of the Government, all the Julias who had their one night stand with Barry and who are getting child support from the government. Because in the absence of the family, the welfare state is the new normal.” Elaborating on this lurid metaphor, Greenfield added that “in most cases, the proud papa was Uncle Sam, better known as the taxpayer, better known as You. Because someone has to pay for bringing up the Democratic voters of tomorrow,” and that between America not getting the babies Greenfield wanted and getting too many of the babies Greenfield didn’t want, “These types of numbers point to a Europanization of America…”
At FreedomWorks, Loren Heal saw the situation this way: “Obama won by getting people — single women, especially — to see themselves as being on his team. His campaign message took a horrible negative, Obamacare, and focused on another horrible negative, forcing people to buy birth control with health insurance, and made some groups think it was not just a positive, but freedom itself.” Well, no wonder it worked.
At the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard had an idea about how to get those single women to vote Republican that is breathtaking in its simplicity, and for other reasons: “Rather than entering a bidding war with the Democratic party for the votes of Julias,” he wrote, “perhaps the GOP should try to convince them to get married, instead.”
How would they do that? By telling them this, apparently: “At the individual level, there’s nothing wrong with forgoing marriage. But at scale, it is a dangerous proposition for a society. That’s because marriage, as an institution, is helpful to all involved.” If that surprisingly socially-conscious pitch doesn’t work, Last proposed they be told “survey after survey has shown that married people are happier, wealthier, and healthier than their single counterparts,” which should take some of the sting out a loveless union with a man you will inevitably come to despise.
Last had company — Ross Douthat also had a message for the unmarried, childless Obama voter: “The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion,” he explained, “a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.”
This, friends, is what they consider outreach these days — lecturing people they despise on how they might reform themselves enough that rightbloggers would approve of them. It’s sort of an everybody-wins scenario, though — both they and we can hardly wait to see how it works.