The Liberal Baby Bust

There’s a piece in USAToday that takes a look at the ever-widening parenting gap between progressives and conservatives, something about which I’ve written before, because I find it rather interesting, especially at it regards the future of politics and culture. As one would expect, it’s not just in the US; it’s a global phenomenon.

In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs…

In Utah, where more than two-thirds of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 92 children are born each year for every 1,000 women, the highest fertility rate in the nation. By contrast Vermont — the first to embrace gay unions — has the nation's lowest rate, producing 51 children per 1,000 women.

Similarly, in Europe today, the people least likely to have children are those most likely to hold progressive views of the world. For instance, do you distrust the army and other institutions and are you prone to demonstrate against them? Then, according to polling data assembled by demographers Ron Lesthaeghe and Johan Surkyn, you are less likely to be married and have kids or ever to get married and have kids. Do you find soft drugs, homosexuality and euthanasia acceptable? Do you seldom, if ever, attend church? Europeans who answer affirmatively to such questions are far more likely to live alone or be in childless, cohabiting unions than are those who answer negatively.
The upshot of this disparity is that conservatives worldwide are outpacing progressives. While many of us would probably identify ourselves as progressive products of conservative homes, we often likely reached such an alternative via the influences of books or films which opened doors to new ideas, science classes, travel, and/or progressive people who touched our lives in one way or another. But we’ve already gotten a glimpse into what happens as and when a population at large becomes predominantly conservative—banning of books, refusal to show films, attacking TV shows, the undermining of science, xenophobic nationalism, censorship, demonization of dissent, intermingling religion and governance, legislating morality, etc. Egalitarianism and tolerance are slaughtered on the altar of “tradition,” leaving the society increasingly devoid of cultural and philosophical progressive cues, giving kids raised in a conservative environment less and less opportunity—and incentive—to escape its stranglehold.

Which is, of course, the whole point.

Tomorrow's children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents' values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born.

Many will celebrate these developments. Others will view them as the death of the Enlightenment. Either way, they will find themselves living through another great cycle of history.
Some of us just like to think of it as the Rapture in Reverse.

Because, ultimately, there’s nothing any of us can do about it—except have a bunch of unwanted kids in the hopes of evening things out, which doesn’t sound especially wise or enticing. A generation or two of put-upon progressives will have to wait it out, and, one day, the mood will shift again, just as it has before. Ironically, it will happen sooner rather than later if conservatives get their every wish; if they manage to criminalize both abortion and birth control again, progressives will quickly be having just as many kids as they do, hence speeding up the process of getting the wheels of progress out of the ditch.

Poor conservatives. They can’t win for winning.

In the meantime, I just hope we manage to eke out a draw at worst until Mr. Shakes and my childless, progressive arses shrug off this mortal coil.

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