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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/10/20

Leftward Ho

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Demographics suggest a bright future for liberalism in America. Several trends swing left.

The heart of conservatism is white, older, male, less-educated, socially narrow churchgoers, many of them rural. White evangelicals vote Republican by a three-to-one margin. But this cohort keeps shrinking in the United States.

In contrast, rising Hispanics, Asians, blacks, single women, well-educated urbanites and secular young people generally share tolerant views and vote Democratic. They're more welcoming to outsiders like gays, more sympathetic to left-out people. They're expected to dominate the future.

The Census Bureau projects that, sometime around 2040, traditional European whites will slip below half of America's population -- thus every ethnic group will be a minority. Already, the number of minority babies born in America exceeds white infants. The cornerstone of the GOP base, white males, will slip to minor status in coming decades.

Meanwhile, hidebound religion that fuels the Republican Party is fading relentlessly in America and the West. Secular young urban people who say their religion is "none" are soaring, and they generally hold humane liberal views. They have become the largest single bloc in the base of America's Democratic Party.

Of course, not all religious people are conservatives. Black Protestants, Jews, Unitarians, high-steeple mainliners like Episcopalians and even many Catholics (especially Hispanics) generally lean left. But they lack the unified identity of multitudinous white evangelicals. As the churchless grow and evangelicals shrink, liberal values seem destined to become locked tighter into America's mainstream.

The collapse of supernatural religion is a stunning sociological development. After World War II, churchgoing took a nosedive in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and other democratic Western regions. Churchy America seemed an exception, but now it is following the secular stampede. All polls since the 1990s find a rapid decrease in worship. The number who list their faith as "none" or "don't know" has passed 50 million adults, constantly climbing. Sociologist Ruy Teixeira wrote about the United States:

"In 1944, eighty percent of adults were white Christians. But things have changed a lot since then. Today, only about fifty-two percent of adults are white Christians. By 2024, that figure will be down to forty-five percent. That means that by the election of 2016, the United States will have ceased to be a white Christian nation. Looking even farther down the road, by 2040 white Christians will be only around thirty-five percent of the population and conservative white Christians, who have been such a critical part of the GOP base, only about a third of that -- a minority within a minority."

London's Guardian reported:

"So-called millennials (Americans born between 1982 and 2000) are far more diverse, educated and tolerant than their predecessors. They're also the least-religious generation in America's history -- they're even getting less religious as they age, which is unprecedented -- and the majority of them identify Christianity with harsh political conservatism."

U.S. News & World Report said:

"The fastest-growing religious group in the United States is those with no religious affiliation, and members of that group are leaning dramatically in the Democratic direction". Three in four of them voted for Barack Obama". Secular voters will become an increasingly important component of the Democratic base."

In late 2015, a conservative group, Americans for Limited Government, warned that Republicans are "dying off" in the United States. It said 62 million Americans voted for George W. Bush for president in 2004, but election totals "have been down ever since."

"Republicans have proven unable to expand their voting coalition," the organization lamented. The reason "is simply because there are fewer Republicans who are still alive."

Generations just after World War II were split about 50-50 in their allegiance to the two major political parties, but those aging generations are dwindling. ALG continued:

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James A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Mr. Haught has won two dozen national news writing awards. He has written 12 books and hundreds of magazine essays and blog posts. Around 450 of his essays are online. He is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, a weekly blogger at Daylight Atheism, (more...)

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