House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five from San Francisco, has fewer children in her district than any other member of Congress: 87,727. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, a Mormon father of eight, represents the most children: 278,398.These two extremes reflect a stark demographic divide between the congressional districts controlled by the major political parties.Republican House members overwhelmingly come from districts that have high percentages of married people and lots of children, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2005 Census Bureau data released last month.GOP Congress members represent 39.2 million children younger than 18, about 7 million more than Democrats. Republicans average 7,000 more children per district. ~USA Today
It’s interesting that information about this divide in American politics is finally filtering out more and more into the press, but it should be noted that Steve Sailer has been on the case of both the “baby” and marriage gaps for quite some time. It is easy to say this in retrospect, now that these “gaps” are receiving more and more attention, but how was it that these social trends and their political impact evaded notice for so long? Shouldn’t it be obvious that, on average, those with more children and relatively stable marriages are more likely to favour policies and rhetoric tailored to these sorts of families, and those with fewer or no children and those who are not married or who have had far less stable marriages will prefer an entirely different set of policies and rhetoric? Presumably, talk about defending marriage would tend to fall on deaf ears in many of these Democratic districts because there are, on average, fewer married people who would find threats to the institution of marriage at all worrisome. This clearly puts left-liberals in a real bind demographically, as they are typically committed to positions that are at least supposedly more friendly to the unmarried and childless, which means their existing base is unlikely to reproduce itself in sufficient numbers to remain competitive with the other side. This makes mass immigration ever more attractive to most liberals, who were already in favour of it, but which in turn makes them even less attractive politically to the burgeoning numbers of married people in the heartland with larger families. I suspect those who have a lot of children will likely be more averse to mass immigration, because they have already made an investment in the future of the country and will viscerally want to make it more likely that part of the country’s resources and territory go to their descendants rather than someone else’s. Besides the obvious benefit of votes for their chosen party, it makes sense that liberals would be more indifferent to new peoples coming into the country, especially when these are predominantly their parts of the country in California, since at some level they know they do not expect their children and grandchildren to be there in great numbers, if they will be there at all. This troubles them less than it might otherwise because there is at least the hope that the immigrants will fuel the future of progressive politics into which these people have invested so much of their hope and energy. They expect their values to be reproduced in the new immigrant populations, which makes actual reproduction less important to them politically. Maybe that isn’t right, but it sounds plausible to me.
On a tangentially related note, I think this gap, and the related insight that those who are married with larger families tend to become more conservative in their ”values” and voting habits, also helps explain why academia has been going leftwards for quite some time. Professional academics have to invest a great deal of time, money and energy into becoming professional academics–all of which might have gone into having and raising children otherwise. We waste, er, spend between six and ten years after college graduation just getting our degrees and several more getting established in something resembling stable employment. Academic lives are initially very rootless–for the ambitious, there is the constant traveling to conferences, giving talks, doing research for this or that fellowship and the frequent moves to different schools before you are on the tenure track–and while grad students may get married often enough (though I would have to guess that cohabitation or long-term relationships between singles represent a much larger proportion of grad students than is true of the general population our age) they will inevitably have fewer children early on and ultimately end up having fewer all together because of 1) relative lack of financial resources, 2) the perception of insufficient time for raising children and 3) the initial insecurity of academic appointments. Add to these things that many schools, including some of the most prestigious, are in cities and states with a higher average cost of living, and you have an acute case of the costs of forming a family being too high for the academic and his spouse. Add to this the fact that people who opt for grad school tend to come overwhelmingly from households with more liberal politics (since, for various reasons, some of them quite good, conservative households tend to inculcate a desire to do practical and, well, productive work that does not lend itself to going off to graduate school to study early modern Italy), you have a recipe for a permanently left-leaning academy because academic life imposes the kinds of pressures on family life and creates the kind of people who would end up being more attracted to liberal politics even if they came into grad school with other “values.” There will, of course, be exceptions and qualifications to this (and there are oddballs such as myself who try to resist being pulled in these directions). I suspect it would make a huge difference whether the grad students are very religious or not. But the bottom line is that unless you come into grad school with strongly-rooted conservative attitudes, you will inevitably be pulled leftwards–not so much by the intellectual biases of academia as such, though these don’t help–because of the nature of academic life and the social consequences for those who participate in it. If I am wildly off base here, I welcome stories of the English Lit Ph.D. student with five children. Perhaps such people exist, but I have never encountered them or heard of them.
On a related topic, it is curious that 20th Century Fox undermined the release of Idiocracy as much as it did when, as an academic friend of mine recently observed after seeing it, “this is what is happening today,” meaning that the well-educated and intelligent people are not reproducing in sufficient numbers and the thoughtless, less intelligent masses are having children all over the place. (In fact, it isn’t as if birthrates are exactly exploding anywhere in this country, but the gap is certainly real and noticeable.) In any case, this is the perception of one academic after seeing the movie. She looked on this prospect with horror. The hyper-educated and, typically, the fairly liberal (the two tend to go together for the reasons given above) see themselves only too well in the yuppie couple in the opening of the film who never find time to have children, who do not reproduce themselves and do not pass on their genes and leave the world to be inherited by the less intelligent. The elitist impulse in highly educated (or perhaps I should be careful here and say highly schooled) liberals runs up against their egalitarian fantasies, and what they fear in private can, of course, never really be talked about in public debates. These sorts of anxieties would have to be translated into comedy, like Monty Python’s old sketch from The Meaning of Life about the teeming hordes of Yorkshire Catholics and the apparently childless, dry-as-dust Protestant who assures his wife, whom he hasn’t gone near in a year, that he could have sex anytime he wants without worrying about having children because of the wonders of contraception. Serving the liberal pieties that intelligence and heredity have nothing to do with each other, the studio sabotaged and failed to promote Idiocracy, even though the very liberals whose pieties would theoretically have been offended by the entire subject would have secretly been nodding their heads and looking askance at the teeming hordes of “breeders” (to use the charming term preferred by some homosexual and population control activists) who, in addition to being obnoxiously likely to have more children, are also in the estimation of these same liberals the dim-witted, dangerously religious, backwards, Bush-voting masses in flyover country whom they suffer with barely constrained rage.