Monthly Archives: February 2012

Childfree Americans lean heavily toward Obama and Democrats

couple in Obama T-shirts

(Photo by Steve Rhodes)

Joel Kotkin has an interesting post about the political leanings of childfree, childless, and single Americans. Short answer: Democratic.

[There’s] a remarkable correlation between the states and regions with the highest proportion of childless women under 45 — the best indicator of offspring-free households — and the propensity to vote Democratic. Overall, the most child-free regions were nearly 85% more likely to vote for Obama in 2008. And according to the most recent Gallup survey, they are similarly inclined to vote Democratic today.

At the top of the list, with 80% of its women under 45 without children, stands the rock-solid blue District of Columbia. Just behind that taxpayer-financed paradise the six states with the highest percentages — Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Vermont and California — also skew Democratic. In each of these states the percentage of childless women exceeds 55%.

The highest percentage of offspring-free women under 45 can be seen as well in such Democratic metropolitan areas as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York. In each of these metropolitan areas, the percentage of childless women reached a minimum of 60%, well above the national average of 53%. In the urban cores of these regions, the percentage can approach Washington’s 80% figure. To a large extent, childlessness correlates with high density and a less affordable housing stock.

… Democrats have lost the support of married people overall since 2008, even while gaining among the unmarried. …

A growing part of the Democratic base — aside from ethnic minorities — consists of white, childless couples and, in particular, single women. … According to the pro-Democratic advocacy group Women’s Voices, Women Vote, almost two-thirds of this demographic group voted for John Kerry in 2004; in 2008 they went for Obama by nearly 70%. In 2010, a generally unfavorable political climate for Democrats, unmarried women helped power Democratic victories, particularly in Colorado and California, in the latter case against female Republican candidates.

… In the past 30 years the percentage of women aged 40 to 44 who have never had children nearly doubled to 19%. At the same time singletons of both sexes are on the rise, numbering over 31 million strong today, up from 27 million in 2000, a growth rate nearly double that of the overall population.

The increasing role of the childless may already be shifting the Democratic Party toward the kind of post-familialistic secularism generally associated with Europe or parts of East Asia. This could partly explain why the Obama Administration has been so willing to challenge the Catholic Church — a traditional home to many working class Democrats — on the issue of offering contraception to its employees. Simply put, in Democratic calculations, secular singletons may now outweigh religious Catholic Democrats.

The importance of singlehood and childlessness is amplified by location. The greatest bastions of non-families are found in the centers of the country’s media, cultural and intellectual life. Single households already constitute a majority in Manhattan and Washington, and they are heading in that direction in Denver, Seattle and San Francisco.

Kotkin goes on to question whether Democrats might be shooting themselves in the foot long-term because the Republicans are out-breeding them. I hear this a lot, but I just can’t get too worked up about it. First of all, considering our massive and urgent environmental problems, fewer people just can’t be a bad thing. Secondly, to share a meaningless anecdote, my conservative parents had four kids, and all of us turned out to be liberals. Let the right do the reproducing; we on the left can do the converting.

Kotkin also warns Democrats not to disdain parents and homemakers. I see no cause for worry there. Politicians of all stripes bow down in obeisance to the traditional family and entirely ignore childfree and single people. Can anyone cite a single example of a politician reaching out to the childfree? It’s about as likely as a politician making a public play for the atheist vote. No, we childfree folks vote Democratic because we’re sane — we believe everyone should have access to contraception, for one — not because Democratic politicians are doing anything whatsoever to court us at the expense of traditional families.

Meme-y image of the day: ‘You have Republicans in your vagina’

doctor says: "I see the problem. You have Republicans in your vagina."

Put an aspirin between your knees, ladies

Foster Friess

Foster Friess doesn't understand why all the little ladies are gettin' so worked up about birth control. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

You just can’t make this sh*t up. We already know that Rick Santorum is a troglodyte creep with astonishingly retrograde ideas about women (see: “Rick Santorum wants women to have lots of babies, whether they like it or not“). I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that his billionaire benefactor is too. Here’s what Foster Friess had to say today, with the best bit emphasized:

I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think that says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s such inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.

Watch for yourself:


As the Rachel Maddow blog points out:

That the comments coincided with the House hearing on contraception access — featuring a male-only panel of conservative critics — only makes the larger Republican war on contraception that much more obvious.

271 celibate old dudes vs. 100 million+ American women: Who’ll win this culture war?

bishops

Bishops say: "No Pill for you!" (Photo by Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Catholic bishops and Rick Santorum’s looney-tunes fans are all bent out of shape because the Obama administration says health-insurance plans should cover the full cost of prescription birth control. And the rest of us have to care about this tiny cadre of crusty old white dudes because … why? Can anyone explain this to me?

Anthony Badami at The Daily Agenda lays out the situation in a post entitled “Who Are the 271 Celibate Men Trying to Control the Sex Lives of American Women?” Those 271 allegedly celibate men would be the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which, as Badami points out, “has included and harbored known pedophiles.”

Meanwhile, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women use modern forms of birth control.

Nonetheless, Obama feels compelled to compromise with the crazies. At least the compromise should still allow all women insured under Catholic institutions to get birth control without a copay or deductible. For that very reason, you know the way-right-wingers will not be satisfied.

Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone puts the issue into context:

Progressives scored three mighty victories in recent days:

First, the Obama administration moved to require employer insurance plans to provide free contraception to workers — no religious exemptions for Catholic groups allowed.

Second, the backlash over the defunding of Planned Parenthood forced the Susan G. Komen foundation to fire its Tea Partying chief of public policy, Karen Handel.

Third and most important, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday to overturn California’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

This trinity of setbacks helps explain Santorum’s electoral hat trick [of winning two caucuses and one primary on Feb. 7]. They’re the kind of defeats that produce spasms of tribalism and victimhood among social conservatives. Every part of that reactionary dynamic favors Santorum — whose anti-contraception, anti-abortion, queer-bashing bonafides have never been in question …

David Remnick of The New Yorker has more on the rekindled “culture wars.” We’ve heard over and over again that this year’s election will be all about the economy. But if the economy looks to be doing OK, then ‘wingers aren’t going to want to talk about it:

The more the economy shows signs of life — however slight, however deceptive in many ways — the more the Republicans, and their media champions, are likely to resort to the kind of battles outlined in Bill O’Reilly’s 2006 book, “Culture Warrior,” which posited a country divided between decent, hard-working people of faith and pernicious secular liberals — a small but powerful Soros-funded minority that knows only contempt for “traditional American values” and wants to mold the country into “the image of Western Europe.”

Irin Carmon of Salon makes this key point:

It’s … been striking how much the conversation on the right and in many mainstream media forums has been dominated by men arguing about how much of a right they have to deny access to contraception, the responsibility for which, in practice, still overwhelmingly falls on women.

We’re already fighting a class war. Now we have to fight culture wars too?

See also: Rick Santorum wants women to have lots of babies, whether they like it or not

E-card of the day

ecard mocking Komen foundation

(Need the backstory? Here you go. Or, for a more colorful take, here.)

Retrograde rep says: If you don’t have babies, you’re killing our civilization

Steve King

Steve King wants you to have babies -- or else. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Lots of politicians are anti-childfree and anti–reproductive choice. Most just don’t state their biases this baldly.

While ranting about the Obama administration’s decision to require health insurers to cover the full cost of prescription birth control, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said this last year:

Well, if you apply that preventative medicine universally, what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization. And right now we’re about 2.1 babies per woman, 2.1. That’s just the replacement rate, that’s all it is.

Asked this week if he really meant that whole “dying civilization” thing, King repeated it:

What happens when people don’t have babies anymore? You’re a dying civilization, right?

No wonder the progressive CREDO super PAC has targeted King as a Tea Partier especially worthy of defeat.