October 18 2012
If [President Obama] is reelected, it will be because of the Single Nation.
--Joel Kotkin, The Daily Beast
Much of the “War on Women” rhetoric is aimed at trying to persuade not just women but single women to vote for President Obama. In this must-read article, Kotkin puts forward a fascinating theory about the Democrats and the unmarried:
President Obama brought up Planned Parenthood three separate times at Tuesday’s town hall debate. It was an appeal aimed directly at a key part of his base: If he is reelected, it will be because of the Single Nation.
Democrats have woken up to the huge political rifts that have emerged over the past 30 years—between married and single people, and people with kids and those who don’t have them. And save African Americans, there may be no constituency more loyal to the president and his party than the growing ranks of childless and single Americans. …
Unmarried women (along with ethnic minorities, the poor and the workers in the public bureaucracy) are rapidly becoming a core constituency of the Democratic Party, in a sense replacing the ethnic white working class.
We’ve often written here on Inkwell about the gender gap. But it's not all women who skew Democratic: single women vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while our married sisters tend to rally to the GOP banner.
Many single women vote for the Democrats because of “free” government programs. We often refer to this as the nanny state. Kotkin uses the more apt term: the hubby state (apparently coined by IWF friend Jessica Gavora). The platonic expression of the hubby state can be found in the Obama campaign’s “Life of Julia” infomercial. It depicts a fictional woman who relies on the government at every turn in her life.
Singalism is a term coined by psychologist Bella de Paulo. Singalism "embraces the idea that far from undeserved subjects of derision or pity, the unattached represent a bridge to a more evolved humanity.” These post-family singles will congregate in urban centers and will likely be more interested in aesthetic issues than in ordinary political issues (why do I think global warming will be a big priority?).
But there is a problem regarding the longevity of Single Nation—yep, that's it:
But the Single Nation’s grip on power may not be sustainable for more than a generation. After all they, by definition, will have no heirs. This, notes author Eric Kauffman, hands the long-term advantage to generally more conservative family-oriented households, who often have two or more offspring. Birth rates among such conservative populations such as Mormons and evangelical Christians tend to be twice as high than those of the nonreligious….
In the here and now, and especially this November, these long-term trends will not yet be evident. The tsunami of Chasidic and Mormon children are not yet eligible to vote, and won’t be for a decade or two. So even as the president loses among the married, the growing ranks of the Single Nation could still assure his reelection, and propel his party’s ascendency for a decade or more before the whole trend crashes against a demographic wall.
As a single woman who in no way feels discriminated against, I’d like to add a thought to this: it seems that our society has since the 1970s devalued motherhood. Single Nation, if Kotkin’s predictions are true, is likely to devalue it even more. But there are indications that Single Nation may not be as ascendant as Kotkin believes.