This column by Michael Medved on the rosy demographic future of the Republican Party just cracked me up. Medved's thesis -- the percentage of older people in the country is growing -- older people vote Republican -- ergo, a golden age awaits the party of golden-agers. Really, there is so much wrong with this it is difficult to capture all of it.
First, the notion that people become more conservative as they age is simply a myth. Young people have voted overwhelmingly for Barak Obama in the last two elections -- and the cohort of 30-39 year-olds, many of whom were in the under 30 cohort in 2008, increased the support for Obama in that age bracket. That's the way these generational loyalties tend to work; the electoral loyalties formed by one's mid-twenties typically stay with most people as they age.
Second, comparing the older people of today -- those born in the 1930s and 40s -- with those who will become senior citizens in another 15 to 20 years is pretty silly. Medved takes solace in the fact that in 2030, 25% of the American population will be over 60, assuming that people in that age group magically become Republicans. Moreover, Medved suggests that the young who are currently not religiously observant will become so as they age and marry. In other words, Medved assumes that the older people of the future will be just like those we find today.
A snapshot of the actual demographics confirms that most of this is delusional. 42% of the voters between the ages of 18 - 29 in 2012 were non-white. In 2000, that numbers was 26%. This is a stunning change in twelve short years. Non-white voters supported Obama over Romney by approximately 80-20%. This trend will not be slowing down. By 2050, whites will be a minority of voters in the United States. (I hope to turn 90 that year and celebrate the occasion.) Right now, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians make up 37% of the country's population and 28% of the voters in the most recent election. The Hispanic vote is expected to double by 2030. Asian-Americans, the fastest growing demographic group in America, supported Obama over Romney by approximately 76 - 23%, a stunning 53% gap.
Medved completely ignores this reality. He also ignores the fact that 19% of the voters age 18-29 have no religious affiliation versus only 6% of those currently over age 65, that only 36% of them attend church services regularly as opposed to 51% of those over age 65, and, most importantly, that only 16% identify as white evangelical protestants versus 28% of voters over age 65. As a group, those 18 - 29 overwhelmingly support gay marriage, abortion rights, and legalized marijuana. They also strongly support more activist government by a margin of 59 - 37% while those over 65 -- the folks collecting Social Security and enjoying the benefits of socialized medicine -- reverse those numbers, with 58% claiming that government is doing too much -- although presumably not in terms of supporting their sorry white asses -- and 35% who think government should do more.
In short, there is no reason for Mr. Medved's optimism. But plenty of reason for most of us to feel the future is bright.