Unhealthy Trends in Nation Beg for Conservative Leadership|
April 28, 2014
A new, sweeping demographic snapshot of the United States, “The Next America,”
has been produced by the Pew Research Center.
The data and graphs present a stunning picture of how dramatically the United
States has changed and how dramatically it will continue to change.
The big themes that one walks away with is that America is getting older, less
white, less religious, less traditional, and less patriotic. These trends
suggest big questions regarding the future of the country and what the
implications are regarding our politics and public policy.
In 1960, 9.2 percent of our population was over 65. By 2010 this percentage was
up to 13.2 percent. It’s projected that by 2050 21.4 percent of the American
population will be over 65.
In 1960, 85 percent of America was white. By 2010, this was down to 64 percent.
It is projected that by 2050 America’s white population will have become a
minority at 47 percent of the population.
In 2012, the majority of Americans under 45 voted for Barack Obama and the
majority 45 and over voted for Mitt Romney. Broken down by race, 59 percent of
white Americans voted for Romney while 93 percent of blacks, 71 percent of
Hispanics, and 73 percent of Asians voted for Obama.
Relativism prevails today among younger Americans.
In answer to the question “Is the United States the greatest country in the
world?” 32 percent in the 18-29 age bracket say “yes” and 64 percent over the
age of 65 say “yes.”
Whereas only 9 percent of Americans over 65 indicate no religious affiliation,
29 percent of Americans under 29 say they are not affiliated with any religion.
And young Americans are far more likely to likely to embrace non-traditional
values such as same-sex marriage and out-of-wedlock childbirth than older
So it should come as no surprise that over time, conjugal marriage is
disappearing as a core American institution and that increasing numbers – now
over 40 percent – of babies are born today to unwed mothers.
The facts showing America’s dramatic changes stand clearly before us.
However, what it means regarding “The Next America,” to take the name of the Pew
study, I would say is far less clear.
If the assumption is made that no major changes occur in prevailing attitudes
among racial and ethnic groups, and that attitudes that now prevail among
younger Americans will stay with them as they get older, so the status quo
clearly favors the Democratic Party and points to a more socialist and liberal
On the other hand, there is something called reality.
The viability of our entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, and
Medicaid-which, according to Pew will account for half the federal budget by
2022, depends on a young working population to carry the burden of the elderly
and the poor. But, as the Pew study also notes, in 1945 we had over 40 working
Americans for every retiree. Today this is down to 3 to 1.
Soon the cash demands of these programs will exceed the revenue our population
can produce to sustain them. Either we need to fundamentally change these
programs or dramatically raise taxes.
And, more and more literature is being produced showing that the traditional
family is not an historic accident but an essential institution necessary for
healthy, prosperous living.
This all explains the core tensions in the Republican Party today.
Should the party pander to the current liberal trends of the country to try and
win votes in the short term?
Or should Republicans be sounding the alarm and pointing the way back from what
a sober look at America today says is not a healthy situation – socially or
I believe the message of this new portrait of America from Pew points to the
pressing need for new courageous conservative leadership.
Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal
and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based
public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle
Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do