A few weeks ago, James Carville appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to talk about his new book, 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation. He argued that the American electorate was evolving demographically in a way that favored Democrats. In support, he revealed a stunning statistic. If the American electorate had not undergone any demographic changes since 1992, John McCain would have won the election in 2008. In other words, if the percentages of white males, white females, blacks, latinos, etc were the same in 2008 as they were in 1992, Sarah Palin would be the Vice-President of the United States.
What is happening is that younger voters are voting heavily Democratic and demographic groups that traditionally support Democrats–single voters and non-whites–are growing. The groups that support Republicans–married people and white men–are shrinking at the same time that younger voters are rejecting conservatism. The GOP will certainly evolve to appeal to more of the changing electorate, but as Carville noted, that means moving closer to the principles of the Democratic party. So while the Democratic Party is highly unlikely to rule America for forty years–and even I believe it should not–the ruling coalition will be ideologically more like Barack Obama than Sarah Palin.
I thought back to Carville’s interview this morning when I noticed that there is now a facebook page for “Traditional Marriage”.
I clicked on the link to see what facebook users were saying about “Traditional Marriage” and seems that fans define it as “opposite” marriage and being a fan means opposing extending equal rights to same-sex couples. This was the comment at the top of the page:
First it was the elimination of God in the schools. Then they attacked Christmas symbols on government property. This paved the way for the ‘do your own thing’ philosophy of the 60’s. Next, after the stonewall rebellion came the public outings of gay people. Next, marriage of two people of the same sex. Whoever said that animals do it relegates mankind to mindless and unacceptable behavior. These people want the rest of us to accept their way of life as acceptable. They teach homosexuality as an ‘alternative life style’ in sex ed. I’m waiting for the North American Man Boy Love Association to seek social acceptability and they will. America is where ancient Rome was before it collapsed under the weight of its own depravity. Gays, if you want to marry, go buy an island somewhere and live apart from us. Too bad in some cases birth control wasn’t retroactive.
Some of the other comments are equally amusing. Some talk about Sodom and Gomorrah and a few “Not Adam and Steve”s. But here’s thing. As of when I took that snapshot of the page, “Traditional Marriage” had 61,173 fans–and more than a few of them were trolls and gay marriage supporters teasing the righteous defenders of tradition. The “Gay Marriage” page has a few more fans.
Almost 350,000 more. As of when I took this photo, there were 409,925 fans of “Gay Marriage”.
The logical response to this is that it doesn’t matter, whenever gay marriage is on the ballot, it loses. And of course gay marriage has more support on facebook because teenagers and young adults use facebook a lot more than older people.
But that’s exactly why it DOES matter.
A December poll in Newsweek revealed that support for gay marriage had risen to 39% (I’m skeptical of the Washington Post/ABC poll that put it at 49%). The heartening numbers lie in the breakdown by age:
Moreover, the poll found significant differences across generational lines. Essentially, the younger you are, the more likely you are to support same-sex marriage. About half of those aged 18 to 34 back marriage rights, compared to roughly four in 10 among those aged 35 to 64 and only about two in 10 among those 65 and older.
Equality hasn’t happened yet. And it won’t for a long time. But “Traditional Marriage” will go the way of the 8-track tape. The fans of “Traditional Marriage” have already lost. Those who will defeat them have already been born. Because as James Carville noted on NPR, “demographics is destiny.”