The Corner

Natalism Nostalgia

As a guy who spent his first couple years in Washington having to learn about Total Fertility Rates and memorizing UN population projections, I find the new politics of birth rates fascinating, if oddly otherworldly. A decade ago, it was still a major talking point of the sophisticated left to talk about overpopulation, not just in the Third World but here. And not just because of immigration, but because Americans were supposedly having too many children. Of course, this argument was — and still is — linked to the notion that Americans are a disproportionate “drag” of the global environment. But that’s a tangent will ignore for now.

As for Brooks’ point as well as Ramesh’s emailer, I’m not convinced that the political significance of red-state natalism isn’t overblown (though I haven’t read Steve Sailer’s piece which many smart folks liked). Red states are culturally conservative. Culturally conservative people have more kids. People with more kids tend to be culturally conservative. People with lots of kids in liberal places tend to move to places that are more conservative. At some point, isn’t this the repetition of basically the same point from different angles? The YaYa plant grows in blue soil. Plants in blue soil tend to be YaYa plants. And, besides, was it not ever thus?

I can see why the red-state natalism stuff might be an important longterm trend, but let’s not forget that many of the red states tend to be underpopulated and the centuries-long American story of young people moving to cities for fun and opportunity isn’t likely to end any time soon. Many red states consider the on-going brain-drain from their universities to out-of-state cities to be one of their most pressing problems.

Anyway, I’m not dismissing this as a non-story, I’m just not convinced this is the mammoth, important trend some people are claiming it to be.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

Most Popular

Elections

Democrats Are Dumping Moderates

The activist base of the Democratic party is lurching left fast enough that everyone should pay attention. Activists matter because their turnout in low-turnout primaries and caucuses almost propelled leftist Bernie Sanders to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Last month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated New ... Read More
Culture

Questions for Al Franken

1)Al, as you were posting on social media a list of proposed questions for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, did it occur to you that your opinion on the matter is no more relevant than Harvey Weinstein’s? 2) Al, is it appropriate for a disgraced former U.S. senator to use the Twitter cognomen “U.S. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More