Contrary to predictions I made earlier this year, all eleven states considering a constitutional amendment on gay marriage passed their bans, including Oregon, a state heavily targeted by gay activists. It appears I was wrong on the connection between the contraceptive mentality and the acceptance of homosexual behaviour.
Or was I?
You see, while Americans in general opposed same-sex marriage 61% to 34%, the 18-29 age bracket supported gay marriage or civil unions 56 to 40%.
Why is this important? Two reasons.
College: The Fountain of Knowledge Where Students Go to Drink
First, the 18-29 bracket tends to be the dog that doesn’t bark in the election process. We have thirty years of experience demonstrating that young people tend not to vote. It doesn’t matter how many young people are registered to do so, they simply can’t be bothered, and it’s hard to blame them.
After all, it takes time out of their day and they have no particular stake in the outcome of any election. College students don’t have much in the way of bank accounts nor do they own much private property, so taxes aren’t an enormous concern. They aren’t raising children, so they aren’t concerned about the quality of their neighborhood or the quality of any school, apart from the one they attend. They aren’t being actively drafted and –at least in America - terrorists don’t tend to blow up university libraries or fast food joints, so young people aren’t particularly concerned about international affairs. Whoever is in office today will be up for election again or retired by the time they get settled in their own job and start building their life in such a way that they might be seriously impacted by the political process. They have no compelling reason to vote.
Second, we know that college radicalizes people. 72% of high school students say abortion is morally wrong. Of women who do not go on to college, 37% support abortion. But college changes attitudes. 73% of women with a college education support abortion.
So, the ones who most supported gay marriage were also the ones least likely to vote.
The Factors to Victory
We have won eleven victories (nine in states that voted for George Bush), but how long will it last? Remember Prohibition. It was successfully passed as well, and not just at the state level. It was repealed only when Americans decided the social unrest it caused was not worth the price of having the law.
This is useful to keep in mind. After all, this campaign had a higher level of vituperation and violence than any in recent memory. America is not just at war with terrorism, she is at war with herself.
We could point to several facts and trends in an attempt to divine the future. One fact: that same age cohort, the 18-29 group, is more pro-life than ever. A decade ago, 67% of people aged 18-29 were pro-abortion. Now it’s 54% - still a majority, but also the lowest majority since 1979.
A second fact: This nation will not be majority Protestant at the next election. Mainline Protestant sects are rapidly shrinking while atheism and agnosticism is at historic highs and on the rise. Church attendance has been dropping since 1992 among both men and women and churches are more expensive to operate than ever, while the population of pastors is also aging. This matters deeply. This year, forty-two percent of the population attends church regularly. Sixty-one percent of that population voted for George Bush. Fourteen percent of the population never attends church. Sixty-two percent of that population went for John Kerry.
A third fact: red states tend to grow in population, blue states tend to decline. There are several reasons for this. Blue states tend to support abortion and supporters of legal abortion tend to have smaller families. Red states tend to have more favorable economic conditions, so more people emigrate to them to find jobs and housing.
A fourth fact: The Hispanic population is increasing and may well be the largest minority in America by the next election. Most Latinos want bans on gay marriage and this population is increasingly pro-life. The massive illegal immigration into the country has historically been a Democratic advantage, but the gay marriage issue and other cultural issues could very easily become the fulcrum upon which the Republican party levers that population to their side.
The question teeters on precisely how these competing waves interact, which parts crest during the elections two years, four years, eight years from now. Will rising atheism swamp cultural Christianity? Or will the influx of Hispanics dampen or totally eradicate atheism’s growing popularity? But the best predictor to victory this year was church attendance and Hispanics are less likely to attend church services than either blacks or whites. Can the decline in church attendance be reversed?
Possibly. The percentage of the population attending church services today is a dramatic decline from 1992, but it matches the percentage that attended during the early 1980s. The 1980’s saw a dramatic increase in church attendance, the 1990’s saw a dramatic decrease.
So, how will it play out? Will those in support of the Democrat agenda of legal homosexual marriage and legal abortion attempt to emulate the Prohibition reversal by attempting to instigate large-scale social upheaval? Those who remember groups like the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers in the 1970’s will also remember that Hillary Clinton and other leaders in today’s Democrat party were instrumental in defending them. Certainly, these leaders will not repeat the mistakes of their youth – they have grown older and wiser. They have also grown more calculating. Colder.
How will the population respond? We clearly no longer live in the America of the 1970’s. The theological anarchism of protestant thought is slowly receding from the scene. Their insistence on conserving a specific culture has saved this day, but how much longer can that grasp be maintained? Protestants passed the Comstock laws outlawing contraception in the 1890’s, but Protestants embraced contraception so fervently in the mid-1900’s that the Comstock laws were overturned by 1973 and abortion legalized. With that break, homosexual rights began to make itself a public force.
We won today, but how long will the victory last? How many churches will still be transmitting the culture in four years? Who will take the place of the Protestant majority?
The fight is not over. It is barely begun.