The Road to Victory (Theirs and Ours)

You may not be aware of this, but for years American conservatives have been supremely confident they will own the future because they are out-breeding liberals. Seriously. There is data floating around in the ether that says conservatives have 41 percent more babies than liberals, so it is just a matter of time before there are so many more conservatives than liberals that we will be squashed like bugs on the bathroom floor of history. See, for example:

There seems to be a glitch, however:

The GOP Is Dying Off. Literally.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

Since it appears that no political data geek keeps track of voters who die between elections, I took it upon myself to do some basic math. And that quick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.

Something seems not to be adding up here. Conservatives cite many studies that say most children grow up to reflect their parents political views, so most of those conservative babies ought to grow up to be Republican voters.

Other studies say it isn’t that simple, and in fact, the more rigidly parents try to impose views on their children the more likely the children will rebel when they get older. In any event, it appears the breeding program is failing to fill its quota of new Republican voters.

A lot of the rebelling takes place during the college years, when the suffocated offspring of die-hard ideologues leave home and can breath on their own. This may be why conservatives hate and fear higher education.  (See also Why does the GOP hate college?)

I came across an old column by Dennis Prager complaining that universities are turning fine conservative children into liberal reprobates.  In it I found this paragraph:

So it is sad when a parent who believes, for example, in the American trinity of “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum” has a child who believes that equality trumps liberty, that a secular America is preferable to a God-centered one, and that multiculturalism should replace the unifying American identity.

For the life of me, I can’t think of any way that equality displaces liberty. Kind of the opposite, in fact; without equality, liberty tends to be rationed. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, y’all. And why do I suspect that the “unifying American identity” is supposed to be white? Hmmm.

That takes us to a big, fat fly in the right-wing ointment — in another generation or so, whites will no longer be a majority in America. And the GOP has done a bang-up job alienating nonwhites and running them out of the party. The strategy of keeping Congress through racial gerrymandering is, it appears, not sustainable.

24 thoughts on “The Road to Victory (Theirs and Ours)

  1. “Conservatives site many studies that say most children grow up to reflect their parents political views”

    That sounds wrong, most conservatives I know adopted their Parents political ignorance, but I suspect they are just the weak minded followers of the litter, not the majority! Wonkette has a funny post on this today as well “the olds”!

  2. Well, considering the GOP controls both houses of Congress, and a majority of State Legislatures, they may hear the death knell tolling, but they still maintain a lot of power!

    But, before they commit demographic suicide, they’ll make sure it’s a murder-suicide, and kill America off, first!

    If they can’t have the America they want, then no one should get the America they’d prefer!

  3. “For the life of me, I can’t think of any way that equality displaces liberty” Guns = Liberty in the Republican delusion-ville. Prager’s afraid it might become illegal to shoot African Americans some day.

    “that a secular America is preferable to a God-centered one”. You mean, like Islam and the entire Middle East? Keep your Ski-fairy, Dennis– leave the rest of us alone!

  4. Interesting topic. When I married in 1952, I was a Republican and Catholic and very naive. I was sure that I would raise a family of Republican Catholics, but as time went on, it appeared that my children (7 of them) had very different ideas and almost all became Democrats and anything but Catholic. I have two fundamentalists, 2 athiests, and 3 seekers/semi-Christians.

    And I think it is true that when children are more or less coerced into being whatever their parents are (religious and political), when they get out in the wider world, they start thinking for themselves and they do tend to rebel. Some return to the fold, but it seems the majority go their own way and down many varied paths.

  5. Somewhat OT: I am curious as to what you (Maja) think about this article.

    Related, I’m wondering whether it is possible to retain a functioning metaphysics that doesn’t depend, at least to some degree, on unjustified belief. The difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘definition’ is…?

    Just bringing this up because of obvious yet ill-defined differences between right & left.

  6. Prager has opened a phony University to reverse our country’s slide into moral oblivion. Here’s a five minute course on Modern art.

  7. Maha: I really must get your book and read it. My excuse for not having done so is that there is so much going on in my life right now and soooo many things/books to read.
    The wikipedia definition of religion is a collection of beliefs and an attempt to explain the meaning of life. You must think it is much more than that.
    Also, I have always thought that there is really nothing that is “supernatural” but that we don’t really understand all the laws of the universe.
    In the article suggested by Monty, it mentions a study that showed prayer actually had a negative effect. There are other studies that show it does have a positive effect. I can’t provide any links right now but Dr. Larry Dossey has researched the subject. So, what is true? This is one reason I don’t put much faith in scientific studies. The more important thing is what each person experiences. If we accept that we are all a part of the creative forces (as Edgar Cayce says) then everything we think or do affects the all. Cayce and the “god” in the book “Conversations with God” state that thoughts are real things and last forever. Cayce even said that sometimes when he was doing a reading, he had trouble distinguishing a person’s thoughts from his deeds. So, it really is important to monitor our thoughts as they have an effect not only on ourselves but the whole universe. Just something to think about.

  8. Seriously? He included “E Pluribus Unum”? What was he smoking? Our modern conservatives motto is “I got mine now go away”

  9. Off Topic – Would you believe I did Hannity last night – 5 minutes by remote. He was quite cordial and I was able to emphasize the nonpartisan aspect of corruption and reform.

  10. You’ve got to love a guy like Prager. He says if his sons came out of the closet as full blown liberals he’d still love them anyway. What a magnanimous spirit he is. His compassion rivals that of Christ’s.
    To me its of the greatest satisfaction life has given me is the knowledge that my children can exercise their minds and think for themselves. It’s disheartening to think anybody could be so locked in with beliefs that they absolutely refuse to consider any other possibilities. And that they could find satisfaction as a parent in crippling the minds of their own children.
    What’s good enough for grandpa just ain’t good enough for me or my children.

  11. My impression is that kids do take on many of their parents’ political beliefs when those beliefs are honestly held. On the other hand, if your political framework is made up of a bunch of slanderous lies (about gays for example), kids start questioning your authority and wondering what else you’ve been lying about.

    I remember Fred Rogers being interviewed some years back when someone asked him what made certain people so good as children’s entertainers while most people who try can’t hack it. Rogers said that you have to realize at the beginning that even very young children can spot a phony, and that if your audience ever starts to think that you’re talking down to them, they’ll be done with you just like that. Parents can get away with it for longer because when you’re living with them you often have to hold your tongue until you move out, but the same basic rule applies.

  12. As a poster in my friend’s church said, “He died to take away your sins not your mind.”

    Unfortunately it often seems not to have developed that way.

    I think a lot revolves around how you define “beliefs” or whether you might even drop the concept entirely. A belief is a static assertion about the world. The problem is that the world moves on, knowledge moves on and new things come along. If you want to be engaged in the world, to live a life worthy of the term, you have to roll with the changes. If you want to be a bronze age patriarch shifted to the 21st century, you’ll probably never develop sufficient insight to see how ridiculous you are. If you want to try to find out what the world and life is really about you’ll have to tolerate uncertainty and more than occasionally, you’ll take the wrong fork in the road. In fact, maybe it’s best to accept at the beginning that you are never going to get to where you want to go, but the scenery will be interesting along the way.

    I guess it’s analogous to “situational ethics,” which demands engagement with the complexity and nuance of interaction. You have to study a situation and study yourself at the same time. If you are satisfied with looking down a list of proscriptions and laws to choose a course of action, the locus of control is outside of you, you are basically just a spectator, “a brute beast without understanding.”

  13. If you allow him to take away your sins,in effect, you’ve allowed him to take away your mind.

  14. “You’ll take the wrong fork in the road”……………………….

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I……
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.
    Robert Frost

  15. I posted that comment a little too quickly..I’d like to clarify my understanding of the word sin. A sin as I understand it is that it’s a transgression against God. To concede that you are a sinner is the equivalent to surrendering the sovereignty of you own being and values to an imaginary entity. Not that its wrong to have some sort of a gauge to measure and assess your moral compass, but surrendering that responsibility to a God who has been defined by somebody else is the height intellectual abdication.

  16. There’s also a fork in the road in the old riddle about the village of the liars and the village of the truth tellers. In real life taking the wrong fork can “make all the difference” or it can give you practice in turning around and starting over.

    Yes, Swami, that’s what I was driving at when I wrote “the locus of control is outside of you, you are basically just a spectator.” But, I think you put it a lot more clearly.

    It used to ruffle my feathers when people would assert that westerners could only approach Buddhism through their experience of Christianity. (I came from an agnostic family, so that may explain some of my shortcomings. Anyway, that assertion doesn’t particularly bother me now.) After learning a bit more about Buddhism a couple of decades ago, I see Christianity, that is, the teachings of Jesus Christ, in a different light. That doesn’t mean that I believe that he was the son of God or that there is a god at all. But, I see him as someone who had in some way discovered his Buddha nature and the experience compelled him to re-evaluate the world as it was in the material, political and social spheres and to reconsider the obligations that come with being human and with having a “spirit,” for lack of a better term, engaged in the material world.

    The Buddha once advised a follower who was a servant, to “practice the religion of his household,” that is, the religion of his employer. I hope I won’t be putting my superficiality on display, but, I took this to mean that the specific religion or doctrine that you followed was inconsequential as long as you followed some core teachings of the Buddha. The “Eight Fold Path” comes to mind.

    So, I know Christians whose lives and spiritual efforts strike me more as cautionary tales than as examples that I might follow. I meet others who strike me a kindred and familiar souls. Unfortunately, the latter class is in the minority.

  17. That’s great Doug, if I had a strong enough stomach to watch Hannity, I would definitely stream the video, alas, the flesh is weak. But, keep up the good work.

  18. I have read in my few readings on Buddhism that there is the concept of a boddhisattva who is a being that has attained enlightenment and therefore has no need to continue the earth journey via reincarnation but does so anyway out of their compassion and to help others reach enlightenment. In some traditions, they are called masters. Jesus is said to have been one of these and was the reincarnation of the Buddha. Maha can correct me if I am wrong in this thinking.
    Goatherd: Please do watch the Hannity interview. I also cannot stomach Hannity’s mug but as Doug says, he was quite cordial and of course Doug got his point across very politely. The interview is short but sweet.

    • In a sense we’re all incarnations of the Buddha. However, by definition, a Buddha is one who is not reincarnated.

  19. You’re right Granny, I’ll try to get myself in the mood. I think that Doug’s best “tool” is his ability to stay calm and rational and to project a sense of fair play. I don’t know how he does it. I wish I did. One thing is for sure, if you can make with Hannity, most everything else will be comparatively easy. It would almost take a boddhisattva to get along with … Hey, wait a minute.

    Right now, we’re preparing for a trip out west. With all of our animals, that’s difficult, and the anxiety it produces can be overpowering. On top of that we have some old friends coming in a few hours, so away from the computer and back to work. But, maybe Doug’s interview would be just the ticket to spark some discussion. So, we may brave it together.

    I don’t want to sound like too much of a wimp, but I find most television abrasive and offputting, so you can imagine how the crew at Fox might affect me.

  20. Goatherd: I have confidence that you will survive the Hannity interview. As for TV, I got rid of my cable service over a year ago and don’t miss it at all. I just got tired of all the commercial interruptions and resented paying a flat fee for a lot of channels I never watched. Most of the news channels have websites and I can pick and choose what I want to view. I have a DVD and VCR so can still watch movies and other stuff. And I’m saving a lot of money. There have been times in my past when I also didn’t have TV service and didn’t miss it then either. Tried Netflix but it didn’t work on my laptop. They said it was too cheap, I should get a better one. OK, maybe one of these days after I sell my house and I have a little money.

  21. Swami, everyone has their own path, and if you think giving up your “sins” is giving up your mind, you’re allowed (as if you needed me to tell you that! 🙂 ).

    But there’s a working, useful idea that we’re all imperfect, and are called to strive for perfection, but will fail. It’s okay – because if we’re striving for what’s right, our imperfections will be washed away by the sacrifice made by Jesus.

    I don’t agree with that notion – that sin requires suffering makes no sense to me. It’s like saying “you dropped your tea cup? Well, until we break every piece of china in the cabinet, dropping your cup won’t be paid for! But if grandma decides that she’ll protect *our* china by smashing all of her best china, it’ll be fixed.” I’m more of the “you broke your tea cup? Well, the great tea cup master will make a replacement and then things will be as they should be.”

    For a time, I followed the notion that Jesus had done a good thing, made a perfect tea cup, by showing us that doing what’s good is stronger than anything, even death itself. Later, I realized that it didn’t matter – I’m too strongly tied to the Universalist heresy, and feel that if God thinks it matters, he’ll damn well let me know. Now I’m just weird. (A shamanic practitioner, technically, but “just weird” sums it up.)

    So, as I said, I don’t agree with it. But it doesn’t require a surrender of will or mind. Christianity does call for a surrender of will, to the will of God, who is presumed to be good, and thus, the proper guide. But if you assume there *is* good and evil, and that good is better, surrendering to the good isn’t mindless.

    This isn’t an argument with what you say… it’s more of a “so, that model doesn’t work for you… but I feel it can work for some.”

    Sometimes, when a person says “X is *stupid*,” (not quite what you said, mind), what they really mean is “X would be stupid for me!” sometimes coupled with “and I can’t figure out how it appeals to anyone else.”

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