Be afraid. Be very afraid. The America of 2012 is not the America of 2008. If Barack Obama wins this election, the America of 2016 will resemble the beaten and bankrupt countries of Western Europe more than it will the America we grew up in. This isn’t Chicken Little speaking. Take a hard look at the trends, and then drop everything else you had in mind for the next four weeks, and make sure everyone you know votes for Romney-Ryan. We have one last chance to save the republic.
1) Dependency on government handouts: As Dick Morris points out in his latest book Here Come the Black Helicopters!, 20% of Americans received some kind of means-tested government check in 2008, when George W. Bush left office. Now 32% of Americans get some kind of means-tested support — food stamps, disability, welfare, and so forth. That’s a third of the country. Transfer payments are now fully one-fifth of personal income, as I observed in an essay last year. Obama’s arbitrary and perhaps illegal changes in welfare work requirements create a cycle of dependency, as the Romney campaign has warned. They also create a built-in majority for the welfare state. Morris observes that the shift to dependency gives the Democrats a majority on paper. The only question now is turnout. Give this another four years, and the number of Americans who have a stake in economic growth will be a minority of the population.
2) Religious commitment: The Pew Institute’s bombshell survey released this week showed that the number of Americans not affiliated with any religion rose from 15% in 2007 to almost 20% in 2011, and that the unaffiliated are much likelier to vote Democratic (63% of unaffiliated lean Democratic vs. 48% of all registered voters).
This prompted rejoicing in the liberal camp. Writing in the London Guardian, Sarah Posner argued that
…the data shows [conservative Christians] are clearly losing the public. Another survey last week from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that while Mitt Romney has the support of 80% of younger white evangelical millennials (aged 18 to 25), this is a small and diminishing constituency: white evangelicals comprise only 12.3% of that age group. That’s less than half their proportion of the 50 to 64 population. The Pew survey showed that while 32% of Americans aged 50 to 64 are white evangelicals, only 13% of those aged 18 to 29 are.
3) European-style birth rates: “The overall fertility rate for women in the U.S. — defined as the number of newborns per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 — was 63.2 last year, down from 64.1 in 2010 and the lowest rate since the government started collecting these statistics in 1920,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 3. Most ominous was the crash in Hispanic fertility: “Hispanic women between 20 and 24 saw their fertility rate drop to 115 last year from 165 in 2007.” Religious commitment and child-bearing are closely linked, as a number of analysts have pointed out (I review the relationship in my book How Civilizations Die). So the fertility decline is part of the same story as the decline in religious affiliation. It suggests that while Protestant numbers show the steepest decline in affiliation, Hispanic Catholics are behaving less and less like Catholics used to.