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Blue Morning

Unchecked border-crossings, fading churches, disintegrating families, DEI deans and worthless degrees ensure that the American future will be miserable—and that those who will inherit it will be Democrats

Michael Lind
April 16, 2024
Michael Lind
Michael Lind chronicles civilizational shifts and national trends, writing about American politics and culture with a deep understanding of history and appreciation for America's highest ideals.
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In The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002), John Judis and Ruy Texeira argued that college-educated professionals and nonwhites, along with a minimum number of working-class whites, could form the basis for Democratic hegemony in national politics. As Judis and Texeira point out in their new book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? (2023), Democratic strategists and journalists adopted a distorted, dumbed-down version of their thesis in which the Democratic Party could do without working-class non-Hispanic white voters at all. Conversely, the modest decline of Hispanic and Black voter support for the Democrats in the last few elections has led some to suggest that a racial realignment is underway that might enable Republicans to emerge as the party of the “multiracial working class.”

A more plausible explanation, however, is that Joe Biden has always been an unpopular candidate made more unpopular by inflation and botched immigration and foreign policies—and that he is likely to win anyway. Most demographic trends still favor the Democrats and hurt the Republicans. Democratic constituencies continue to grow as shares of the American electorate, while core Republican electoral blocs are steadily declining.

Consider the interaction between voting and religious belief. According to 2024 polling data, Republicans win supermajorities among only two religious groups—white evangelical Protestants (85%) and Mormons (75%)—while eking out bare majorities with white nonevangelical Protestants (58%) and Catholics (52%). All of these Republican-leaning religious communities are dwindling. As a share of the American population, white evangelical Protestants have shrunk by roughly a third from 33% in 1999 to only 21% in 2021. In only 15 years, from 2007 to 2023, Mormons also declined by about a third as a share of the U.S. adult population, collapsing from 1.8% to 1.2%. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are no longer the majority even in Utah. Since 2007, the Republican-leaning white Catholic share has dropped by 8 percentage points.

If demographic trends favor Democratic hegemony, why not maximize immigration? Why not expand the welfare state to enable illegitimacy? Why not pass out affirmative action bribes to newly invented official nonwhite ‘races’ like MENA?

Meanwhile, religious “nones”—atheists, agnostics, or vaguely spiritual individuals with no affiliation to any organized religion—have expanded to account for nearly 30% of the U.S. population—equivalent to the 30% of Americans (of all races) who identify as evangelical Protestants and outnumbering the one in five Americans who are white evangelicals. The nones tend to be the most left-wing voters in the Democratic Party coalition, as well as in the nation as a whole. Among Democratic voters, 69% of the nones call themselves liberal, but only 46% of Christian Democrats do. Among the nones, 70% favor the Democrats, with the number rising to 84% of self-described atheists.

Seven out of 10 Jewish Americans support the Democratic Party and half describe themselves as liberal; only Orthodox Jews support the Republican Party as a group. For half a century, Jewish conservatives have complained in vain that Jewish Americans are voting against the interests of Israel or their own economic self-interest. In the words of Milton Himmelfarb of the American Jewish Committee, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.”

Extreme Democratic partisanship is shared by Jewish Americans with Muslim Americans. In 2000, 70% of Muslim voters cast their ballots for George W. Bush, the son of the Texas oil man George H.W. Bush who as president put pressure on Israel. But following 9/11, 90% of Muslim voters favored John Kerry in 2008. Obama got 89% and 85% of the Muslim vote in 2008 and 2012. Hillary Clinton got 75.9% of the Muslim vote in 2016 while 86% of Muslims voted for Biden in 2020, helping to deliver swing states like Michigan. Muslims who are critical of Biden for being insufficiently anti-Israel are more likely to cast a vote for a third-party candidate or stay home in 2024 than to vote for Donald Trump.

Although foreign-born Muslim immigrants tend to be socially conservative, their descendants tend to assimilate to the progressive subculture, making Muslim voters an increasingly important part of the electorate not only for the Democrats in the United States but also for center-left and socialist parties throughout the West. Small wonder that the Biden administration has arranged for the U.S. Census to define Arab Americans and Muslim Americans as an official “race”—Middle Eastern or North African (MENA)—along with the pseudo-races of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), Hispanic/Latino, and African American, an ethnologically absurd category that includes anyone of African descent, native or immigrant.

Designating Muslim Americans as an official “race” makes them eligible for affirmative action patronage, which Democrats have used since the 1970s in a cynical divide-and-rule strategy to pay off mostly Democratic nonwhites in return for their votes, while punishing mostly Republican “non-Hispanic whites” who are defined by progressives as “privileged” and “overserved,” no matter how poor and powerless they may be.

In the zero-sum competition of a two-party system like ours, a party whose core demographic constituencies are shrinking must win over voters from the other party. But instead of trying to detach and annex large chunks of the Democratic Party with an attractive vision of the American future, today’s GOP seems determined to repel potential converts with the extreme positions on abortion demanded by Republican evangelical Protestants and the continuing hostility of Republican libertarians to popular entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

Apart from a few reformers like J.D. Vance, Josh Hawley, and Marco Rubio, most Republicans are mentally stuck trying to repeal the New Deal of the 1930s and the sexual revolution of the 1960s. These anachronistic conservatives are the equivalent of nostalgic William Jennings Bryan agrarians ranting about the gold standard and the oppressed farmers in the middle-class suburban America of Eisenhower. And the nostalgic Goldwaterites and Reaganites themselves seem positively modern and forward-looking compared to subcultures of the online right like Trad Caths nostalgic for the Hapsburg Empire, nerdy Nietzscheans fantasizing about an aristocratic or neo-monarchical eugenic caste society, and neo-agrarian homesteaders and homeschoolers who scorn the fruits of the Industrial Revolution.

Secularization is not the only long-term demographic trend that is shrinking the Republican voter base while expanding the pool of Democratic voters. So is the growing number of Americans with complete or partial college educations.

In 1994, 54% of college graduates were Republican, compared to only 39% who voted for Democrats. By 2018, the proportions had reversed: 54% of college graduates were Democrats and only 39% Republicans. Among Americans with postgraduate degrees, like a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree, the Democratic advantage has widened from 47%-45% in 1994 to 63%-31% in 2024. In 2020, a majority of Democrats were either college-educated whites (27.3%) or non-college-educated nonwhites (32.8%). In the 2022 midterms, 52% of voters with a college degree voted for Democrats and 46% voted for Republicans.

Democrats have responded to the dissolution of the two-parent family among their most loyal voters by promoting that benevolent bureaucratic provider, Uncle Sam, as a substitute for a human husband and father.

Partisan Democrats might take this as proof that Democrats are smarter than Republicans. In reality this merely demonstrates the conversion to the Democratic Party of many former elite Northeastern and West Coast “country club” Republican families, combined with the decline in value of a college education through credential inflation, grade inflation, and the massive dumbing-down of college admissions standards and curriculums.

The proliferation of college diplomas has not led to better pay or better jobs for many college graduates. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2020 estimated that 41% of recent college graduates, and 38% of all college graduates, were employed in jobs that do not require a college education.

While obtaining bachelor’s degrees and postgraduate degrees wastes the money and effort of millions of overeducated Americans, it generates outsize benefits for the Democratic Party, and particularly for the party’s left wing. America’s once-great institutions of higher learning are now madrassas of progressive ideology and Democratic Party registration centers. A few years on campus socializes college students into progressive culture in an environment dominated by left-wing advocacy groups and by faculties among whom Republican professors are a rare, endangered species. Since 2000, two of three college towns have become more Democratic.

Democratic Party strategists can therefore take comfort from the growing pool of college graduates, however worthless their degrees may be. In the 10-year period from 2011 to 2021, the number of Americans with bachelor’s degrees grew by 7.5% while the population of graduate degree holders exploded by 50%, so that around 44% of those over 25 now have a college credential of some kind.

The Starbucks worker with a master’s degree in gender studies may make less money than the high-school-educated roofing contractor, but she learned one important thing from most of her professors and the diversity deans in college: Republicans and others who do not vote for Democrats are fascists.

The decline of religion and the expansion of politically correct, mostly economically worthless higher education, then, result in the expansion of core Democratic voting blocs. So does the accelerating disintegration of the American family.

In 2022, Democrats received the votes of 68% of unmarried women. Although the divorce rate has been stable for decades, the population share of never-married women and men continues to grow. The percentage of married households with children has shrunk from 37% in 1976 to 21%, while never-married women as a share of the female population has grown from 20% in 1950 to 30% today, with a commensurate decline in married men as well.

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then working for the Johnson administration, caused a national controversy by drawing attention to the rise in Black illegitimacy from 16.8% in 1940 to 23.6% in 1963. In 2018, 69.4% of Black American children were born to unwed mothers. Childbirth outside of marriage is now common among Black Americans of all social classes. While only 3% of non-Hispanic white managers or professionals has had an illegitimate child, the number among Black women of the managerial-professional class is 45%. A 51.8% majority of Hispanic children are born to unwed mothers. The illegitimacy rate among non-Hispanic whites was 28.2%; it had been 3.07% in 1963. Even among Asian Americans the rate is 11.7%.

Democrats have responded to the dissolution of the two-parent family among their most loyal voters by promoting that benevolent bureaucratic provider, Uncle Sam, as a substitute for a human husband and father. This explains the creepy and controversial “Life of Julia” cartoon series promoted by the Obama administration. It showed how the federal government provided various subsidies at every stage of the life of the fictional “Julia.” At the age of 31 Julia gives birth to a fatherless child, Zachary, with no mention of a husband but with government help, in the form of health insurance “to cover birth control and preventive care, letting Julia focus on her work rather than worry about her health.” In 2021, the Biden administration disseminated its own comic strip to advertise all of the government programs and welfare benefits available to the fictional “Linda” and her son, who like Julia’s Zachary was apparently born out of wedlock. The Obama campaign and the Biden administration neglected to point out that the children of Julia and Linda, raised by single mothers, were twice as likely to end up in prison as boys with fathers in the household.

New Deal Democrats, with their important white Catholic working-class voter bloc, tended to be more conservative than their Republican opponents on the issue of abortion—which is now the Democratic Party’s officially designated “woman’s issue.” The extremism of today’s mainstream Democratic opposition to any limits on abortion up to birth is explained by the fact that, according to The New York Times, the typical woman who has an abortion fits into multiple Democratic constituencies; she “is already a mother, is in her late 20s, attended some college, has a low income, is unmarried, is in her first 6 weeks of pregnancy, is having her first abortion, lives in a blue state.”

It’s no wonder that Zachary is an only child. And no wonder that both he and his mother will continue voting for Democrats.

More than any other demographic trend, today’s massive wave of unrestricted mass immigration helps the Democratic Party. With the exception of Vietnamese Americans, Asian Americans favor Democrats over Republicans by 62%-34%. Muslim immigrants prefer Democrats. The small but growing number of African immigrants favor the Democrats as well.

Can Republicans break the attachment of Hispanics to the Democratic Party? In 2016, Trump won 29% of the Hispanic vote and his share rose to 37% in 2020. But this merely marked a return to an old pattern, in which Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John McCain all won at least 30% of the Hispanic vote in one presidential election—while losing the majority of Hispanic voters each time. The high water mark of Hispanic voting for a Republican presidential candidate—40%—came two decades ago in 2004 when George W. Bush ran for reelection.

On Aug. 23, 1984, President Ronald Reagan addressed the National Hispanic Assembly in Dallas:

Buenos tardes. Mis buenos amigos, gracias gracias … Having come from California, I wouldn’t feel at home unless there was a strong Hispanic flavor to these festivities. Hispanic Republicans are an increasingly important part of a Republican coalition …

In the 1984 election that fall, the Democratic candidate, Walter Mondale, got 66% of the Latino vote and Reagan only 34%.

At the time, Reagan told Lionel Sosa, an advertising executive from San Antonio: “Hispanics are already Republican. They just don’t know it.” They still don’t know it. Reagan said that Hispanics are natural Republicans in 1984—40 years ago. In 2024, a majority of Hispanics are again likely to vote for Biden and Democratic congressional candidates.

Can Republicans appeal to Hispanic “family values”? A majority of Hispanic children today are born to unwed mothers. In 2022, 57% of Latinos said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases; only 40% thought it should be illegal in most or all cases. Among Hispanic immigrants, there was a close division on abortion of 48% supporting legal abortion in most or all cases and 49% opposing it. But their children and grandchildren move to the left, with the liberal position on abortion favored by 68% of the second generation and 63% of the third and higher generations. Asked whether it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns or to control gun ownership, Latinos favor gun control by 73%-26%. Evangelical Protestant Latinos, who are the most likely to vote Republican, favor gun control by slightly less—70% to 29%. As a Brookings study notes, “Republicans did not have any policy proposals that garnered more than 30% support among Latinos in either 2020 or 2022. On issues of tax policy, health care, abortion rights, gun safety, climate change, and immigration, a very clear majority of Latino voters support Democratic proposals.”

Demographic trends in the United States—the decline of religion, the growth in the number of young people indoctrinated into progressivism in colleges that pass out increasingly worthless diplomas, the decline of the two-parent family, and the growth in numbers of welfare-dependent mothers of illegitimate children, and the arrival of wave after wave of immigrants who prefer Democrats to Republicans—result in the steady expansion of Democratic voting blocs, while those of their Republican opponents inexorably dwindle as shares of the electorate. With all of these demographic headwinds at their back, why would Democrats not simply keep doing what they are doing now, in spite of Biden’s current political troubles? Why not continue to use the federal government to harass religious communities by trying to force Catholic hospitals and Christian doctors and nurses to perform abortions or “gender-affirming” castrations and mastectomies?

Why also not excite and mobilize the Democratic Party’s atheist and agnostic voters by weaponizing the IRS to persecute traditional Christians, Jews, and Muslims? Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke proposed stripping churches that oppose gay marriage of their tax exemptions and Biden’s IRS denied a tax exemption to a nonprofit called Christians Engaged, inadvertently implying that God is a Republican: “The bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under the IRC Section 501(c)(3).”

If demographic trends favor Democratic hegemony, why not maximize immigration, unskilled as well as skilled? Why not expand the welfare state to enable illegitimacy, since unwed mothers are a Democratic constituency? Why not pass out affirmative-action bribes to newly invented official nonwhite “races” like MENA that are constantly expanded by immigration? Arguably the Democrats can afford to wait patiently for long-term demographic trends to push them into permanent majority status, even if they lose a presidential election now and then because of bad economic conditions or a weak candidate like Joe Biden.

And the Republicans? American history provides many examples of the demise of parties that failed to adapt to changing economic and demographic environments. The Federalist party ceased to exist after the War of 1812 and for a while the only significant competition was between the two wings of the dominant Democratic-Republican Party. Opposition to the New Deal and Great Society made the Republican Party a minority in the House of Representatives between the elections of 1952 and 1994.

Long periods of one-party dominance have been the norm, not the exception, in American political history. The Republican Party dominated the federal government for seven decades between the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover. In the six decades that followed, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Democrat coalition dominated Congress.

In both cases, immigration contributed to partisan demographic dominance. The mass influx to the Northern states of the “old immigrants”—chiefly German and Irish—enabled the hegemony of the Republicans from the 1860s to the 1930s, while the succeeding wave of “new immigrants” from Southern and Eastern Europe and their descendants helped the New Deal Democrats control Congress from the 1930s to the 1990s.

There is no reason to believe that the present post-Cold War era of frequent shifts in party control of Congress won’t be followed in the future by a new age of one-party demographic domination. After all, we are already in an era of Democratic domination of the presidential popular vote. Since 1992, the Democrats have won the popular vote for president in every election except for 2004; in 2000 and 2016, George W. Bush and Donald Trump lost the popular vote while winning the electoral college count. If a combination of domestic and foreign immigration turn Texas and Florida into blue Democratic states, then the Republican Party in its post-Reagan form may be frozen out of national power for a very long time.

Nothing lasts forever, to be sure. Just as the prolonged reigns of the Lincoln Republicans and Roosevelt Democrats eventually ended, so in time there would be an end to a new era of Democratic Party dominance based on “woke” secular voters, college-credentialed progressives, single women and unwed mothers, and ever-growing immigrant diasporas that are rewarded with affirmative action in return for Democratic votes. But six or seven decades—the lifespan of earlier dominant parties in America—is a very long time indeed.

Michael Lind is a Tablet columnist, a fellow at New America, and author of Hell to Pay: How the Suppression of Wages Is Destroying America.