Democrats Are Right To Be Scared About Losing The Parent Vote

Democrats Are Right To Be Scared About Losing The Parent Vote

It's an existential threat to Democrats if parents shift to the Republican Party -- and that is already happening, in Virginia and beyond.
Joy Pullmann
By

Polling in the Virginia elections just concluded this week showed parents breaking for Republicans over education policies, which has Democrats alarmed.

On MSNBC Wednesday, a former Obama campaign manager declared, in an urgent tone, “The one thing that we need to make sure that Republicans in 2022 don’t become is the party of parents. Because we need to be the party of parents.”

It’s too late; that’s already happening. Even the hoax-mongering New York Times can see it, and they’re afraid too.

On Nov. 4, the Times issued a hysterical article covering the Virginia results with the same motif. “Republicans Pounce on Schools as a Wedge Issue to Unite the Party,” read the headline, followed by this malicious smear in the subheading: “Rallying around what it calls ‘parental rights,’ the party is pushing to build on its victories this week by stoking white resentment and tapping into broader anger at the education system.”

Get that? Parental rights in scare quotes and insisting it’s racist to complain about the clearly subpar quality of instruction offered to most American children in public schools.

The multiracial coalition of parents who want neo-racism out of their children’s publicly funded schools might have something to say about that, as might the multiracial GOP politicians elected Tuesday night in Virginia, but we already know The New York Times doesn’t exist to report facts — it exists to control opinion.

Democrats have reason to be afraid of losing the parent vote, and they’re demonstrating that fear by deploying the only weapon they have left: false accusations of racism. The truth is, it’s an existential threat to their party if American parents as a demographic begin shifting to the Republican Party — and that is already well on its way.

Republicans Are Becoming The Family Party

An October report from the Institute for Family Studies finds “there is marked polarization in desires related to marriage and childbearing by income, religious attendance, and partisanship as COVID-19 abates.”

The report shows the majority of voters ages 18-55 who identify as Republicans are married, at 56 percent, while just 40 percent of Democrats aged 18-55 are married. That 16-point gap persists among parents in that same age range: 61 percent of Republicans in that age range are parents, as are just 45 percent of Democrats.

As with other pre-existing social trends, lockdowns accelerated all this. In a Newsweek article about the report, family policy researchers Brad Wilcox and Isabel Sawhill summarize further aspects of this trend: “The rich, the religious and Republicans reported the greatest overall increase in the ‘desire to marry’ while the poor, secular Americans and Democrats reported less or no increase in marriage interest.”

The report also finds COVID fear-mongering has depressed lefty voters’s already anemic desire to marry (marriage predicts fertility) and have children. It finds that right-leaning voters were more likely to be more rational and less frightened about COVID, which gave them social and familial advantages with major political implications.

“Republicans have been more open to socializing since COVID-19 struck, likely making it easier for the unmarried in their ranks to date,” the report says. “And there is evidence they weathered COVID-19 somewhat better emotionally. We find, for instance, that 16% of Republicans reported being sad most of or all the time, compared to 19% of Independents and 20% of Democrats aged 18-55, according to the IFS/Wheatley May-June survey.”

Republicans’ emotionally better-adjusted response to COVID likely played a role in helping right-leaning Americans turn up as “the only partisan group whose desire to have children didn’t decline in the wake of COVID-19.”

This is more evidence that Democrats’ fear-mongering about COVID will politically backfire in the long run. And not just in concentrating fertility among their political opponents, but also in detaching families from the left’s No. 1 recruitment facility — public schools. Extended and irrational school lockdowns definitely contributed to families’ discontent with public schools that helped push Youngkin across the finish line.

Republicans Better Go to Bat for Their Voters

What are some implications of all this?

For one, this also makes Democrats the party of unhappier people, since married parents are the most likely to report they’re happy than are singles, as Wilcox and Sawhill note:

At a moment marked by social distrust, political polarization and declining in-person interaction, Americans who are married with children have an advantage when it comes to built-in social support. As stressful as family life can be, men and women who have formed families are less likely to report feelings of loneliness and meaninglessness. In fact, men and women aged 18-55 who are married with children are more likely to say they are ‘very’ or ‘pretty’ happy, especially compared with those who are not married and do not have children—although it’s unclear whether that’s because family life creates happiness or because the happiest among us are more likely to get married and have children.

The politics of resentment are indeed bitter, as we’ve seen vividly already. Mary Eberstadt’s “Primal Screams” documents the connections between family disintegration and political extremism. If family alienation allies itself more tightly with the Democrat Party, we can expect more politics of rage from them ahead.

Representing people with less investment in the future through parenting children will also drag on Democrats’ ability to provide a positive vision for the country and our communities. It also makes Democrats “less likely to see issues from parents’ perspective,” Wilcox noted to me in an email about the IFS report findings. This could help explain The New York Times’ — and other media leftists‘ — inability to understand parents’ political defense of their children in Virginia as an act of love, not “white resentment” or any kind of resentment at all.

It also makes Democrats less likely to express support for marriage and families through public policy. This is another problem, because marriage and family formation are existential issues, not just for political parties, but for the good of the country. Without children and the self-restraint and creativity that love for them fosters, the country’s future is at risk.

A main way for the left to stave off the threat all this poses to their electoral dominance is another longstanding strategy: converting people’s kids through the education institutions they dominate. But in their frenzy to “get Trump” by weaponizing COVID, Democrats may have set up a series of ticking time bombs that detonate on this most important political territory.

More of those time bombs are set to go off. We haven’t seen half of the devastating effect of school lockdowns, for example, on today’s school-age generation. All that is yet to come. It will shock and motivate parents, and change their minds about Democrats, even more.

Another key question this all raises is whether Republicans are ready to capitalize on this massive opportunity by acting decisively on behalf of the families who are giving it to them. It’s clear what they want. It’s also clear they will not take “I can’t” for an answer.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her brand-new e-book is "The Advent Prepbook." Check out her recommended classic Christmas picture books, "The Read-Aloud Advent Calendar," and her bestselling ebook, "Classic Books for Young Children." Sign up here to get early access to her next full-length book, "How To Control The Internet So It Doesn’t Control You." A Hillsdale College honors graduate, @JoyPullmann is also the author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.

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