The red state-blue state divide
The cultural chasm that’s not going away.
When colour television came of age in the 1970s, the big three networks (all we had back then) had a field day. While politicians prattled on about a colour-blind society (didn’t work), television’s graphic artists colour-coded everything. Long story, but that’s how we got the red state-blue state paradigm where Republican voting states are red states and Democratic voting states are blue.
Today the terms "red state" and "blue state" are staples in the national lexicon. Swing states that vote either way are purple states.
However, red and blue states differ in more than voting patterns. Red states have higher birth rates than blue states.
According to the 2020 Census, the top ten states with the highest birth rates are all red states. They are, from highest to lowest: South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. All of them voted for President Trump in 2020.
The bottom ten birthrate states, starting with the lowest, are Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, California and New Mexico. Every one of them went for President Biden in 2020.
Red states are more culturally conservative than blue states. This reveals something interesting about American society. CatholicVote.org covered this well:
[A]ccording to Fox News, there are three factors that statistically relate to higher birth rates and these factors are seen in the states with more births. The factors are a state’s cost of living (a lower cost of living associated with a higher birth rate); the share of residents who seldom or never attend religious services (with a lower connection to organized religion associated with lower birth rates); and the 2020 vote for Joe Biden (with states that gave Biden the largest share having the lowest birth rates).
There you have it. Blue state costs of living are higher than red states, blue state folks are significantly less religious, they tend to vote for “progressive” Democrats, and have fewer children per capita.
This hasn’t always been the case. While division is nothing new in America, today’s deep-seated conflict of values is without precedent in American history. Even opposing sides in the Civil War agreed on the definitions of man, woman and family and shared common standards of decency and decorum which secularist Modernism has since swept away. Pronatalism was the norm, and children were considered a blessing by people of radically different social, political and religious perspectives.
Back in the 1950s, the postwar baby boom took off. American fertility jumped to a rate of 3.7, almost 60 percent above the 2.1 replacement level. With postwar prosperity the US became more affluent, more “culturally liberal,” and head-over-heels consumerist. Globalism set in, and everything, including families and children, was commoditised. This morphed into a pressure cooker for the American family. While wages and salaries increased, two-income families became a necessity as the value of money diminished (thank you, Federal Reserve). Many homes became dormitories. The mass importation of cheap labour justified by “diversity” agitprop eroded social cohesion.
An integral part of this was consumerism. Spending stimulates the economy! Surveys revealed that television sets were on for several hours daily in American homes, and operant conditioning via advertising did its work. Priorities changed. Skyrocketing consumer debt brought instant gratification. The latest creature comforts became social necessities. The concept of “saving up” for something was so old hat. It was as if government, the education establishment and popular culture colluded to telegraph the message that children hinder progress, tax the environment, impede career success and are financially burdensome.
But children are progress. Yes, they are a career choice, but obviously much more than that. Financially burdensome? Yes, if children are seen as a burden rather than a blessing. Children are family, love, continuity and much else not quantifiable in the material realm.
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Having endured the 2008 crash and the Covid lockdown debacle, America is becoming more deeply divided by the day. The red state-blue state division is but a surface indicator of a deep-seated irreconcilable conflict of values playing out in communities nationwide.
Over time the birth rate differentials between socially conservative (red state type) people and secular (blue state type) folks will lead to a more socially conservative pronatalist society. If the woke element does not replace itself and the ‘normies’ do, change is on the horizon. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Fleeing each other
Meanwhile, the big sort continues. People are leaving blue state California in droves. They are mostly middle-class White folks. There is a steady migration of lefty types to the “progressive” heavily White low fertility New England nirvana. A persistent trickle of Black folks heads South to climes more hospitable than fading rust belt metropolises. Increasingly insular enclaves of recent immigrants and their descendants are developing a robust life of their own.
Before World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire required interpreters on the floor of Parliament. Sadly, the US is headed down that path. There is no popular consensus on so many issues, and what it even means to be an American is up for debate. Sadly, patriotism has fallen out of fashion.
We were warned. In 1991 appeared Arthur Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society; then Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity (2004); and Pat Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? (2011). The country that coalesced to win independence from the British Crown in 1781, only to be held together by force of arms in 1865 is now coming apart along cultural lines. Polarisation is rife. Hopefully today’s deep division doesn’t portend tomorrow’s dissolution.
The powers that be don’t give a hoot about family values. This climate of indifference, discord and outright hostility to traditional mores is horrifically detrimental to family formation and child-rearing.
In President Nixon’s time, “Bring Us Together” was a campaign slogan. We need the real thing today. But how? I just hope it doesn’t take another depression or world war to get people thinking straight again.
Louis T. March has a background in government, business and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Image credit: Pexels
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