If demographics are destiny, maybe.
I recently came across a reference to an article written in 2006 by Phillip Longman, now of Foreign Policy Magazine. In it, he points out that liberals don’t have as many babies as conservatives. Liberal Seattle has 45 percent more dogs than children, while conservative Salt Lake City has 19 percent more children than dogs. The entire state of Utah has a birth rate of 92 children for every 1,000 women. In Vermont, the first state to authorize gay unions, the rate is just 51, the lowest in the country.
He concludes that patience and procreation will pay off, and most of those babies will grow up to be conservatives, too.
I also believe that demographics are destiny. At some point in the not too distant future, America’s minorities will be in the majority. But it’s an argument too far to say that conservative parents will always raise conservative children, or that Latinos will always lean left or that southern whites will always be conservative, or any of the other stereotypes.
Here’s why Longman is wrong and conservative leaders should take note. America’s young people grew up in Reagan’s America, an era of conservative policies that many now don’t agree with, whatever their parents thought. The latest ABC News Washington Post poll shows 75 percent of Americans 30 and under support gay marriage. Not all of them had liberal parents.
A new Gallup poll shows 78 percent of people 18 to 29 support raising the minimum wage. How many of them were raised by conservatives?
This generation of young people is the first who will likely not do as well as their parents and I’m sure they connect those Reagan era conservative policies to their circumstances. I’m also sure the current conservative message is a joke to many of them, ridiculed almost every night by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. (A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows Jon and Stephen continue to have the youngest audiences of all news sources. It also shows their viewers are very well informed. 61 percent of both Jon and Stephen’s audiences could correctly answer at least 3 out of 4 questions on current events. Only 45 percent of Fox viewers could.)
During the debate over the “religious freedom” bill vetoed by Gov. Brewer, an Arizona Republic reader said to conservatives in his letter to the editor, “Your children are laughing at you.”
If there’s to be a conservative renaissance, it won’t be because of birth rates. It will be because conservatives hear the laughter and realize the “culture wars” are over and their economic policies have failed. They have to figure out a way to reach young people with a message that emphasizes free enterprise and personal responsibility while acknowledging government’s role in refereeing a level playing field and guaranteeing the least of us aren’t left behind.