David Brooks has a truly counterintuitive column in today’s New York Times. It’s about the new wave of red diaper babies. Only these red diaper babies aren’t the children of stylish urban lefties who’re being brought up with the most advanced ideas.
They are the children of a certain kind of red state family that has–hold onto your hats!–three or four children.
“Their personal identity is defined by parenthood,” writes Brooks. “They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.”
As there were with the old red diaper babies, there are huge political implications to the emergence of the new red diaper babies. The Democrats swept the latte nation of urban centers where couples have fewer children, while the Republicans took the Great Plains and Southwest where people have more children.
“As Steve Sailer pointed out in The American Conservative, George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 of the top 26. John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest rates,’ notes Brooks.
But don’t think of these red diaper parents as culture warriors–they’re too busy bringing up large families to engage in such abstract battles.
P.S. It’s interesting that overpopulation remains a concern of blue state types–remember that scary electronic sign in New York City that gives you a minute-to-minute update on the world population? Are these red state families breeding irresponsibly?
I’ll bet it won’t be long before the blue states accuse them of hogging the world’s resources. Some thinkers now question the population bomb notion expressed in that scary billboard. Ben Wattenberg of the American Enterprise Institute is one of the leaders of this school of thought.
Here’s a nugget from a Wattenberg essay on the subject:
“Never have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so low, for so long, in so many places. Europe has now seen 45 consecutive years of fertility decline, from 2.66 children per woman in 1955-1960 down to 1.34 in 2000-2005. Japan has declined from 2.75 to 1.33. The phenomenon is also proceeding in the less developed world, where fertility levels are higher but rates are falling faster than ever seen previously in the developed nations.
“The U.N. slowly responded. In 1998, after consultations with demographers, the projections for low-fertility countries were lowered. No longer would countries with incredibly low fertility rates in the range of 1.2 (Italy and Spain) move toward 2.1 by 2050; instead they were forecast at about 1.7. But this still had relatively little effect on total global population; the low-fertility nations are not typically the most populous ones.”