Ross Douthat, writing in the New York Times (emphasis mine):
Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values – reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.
Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do – one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully – or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.
Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children – which is now commonplace for women under 30 – is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.
Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.
This rings true with me, though I will say that I don’t think these “dark” outcomes are what Democrats are promoting. At least not consciously. Rather, I think these trends are being exploited by Democrats for political gains.
A lot of people in America – enough people of voting age to keep President Obama in office for another term – have lost the sense that they can be self-sufficient. That they can survive, and prosper, without an endless parade of government programs.
And we’re not talking about basic infrastructure like roads and bridges and the like. We’re talking about people who believe that higher education wouldn’t happen if the government didn’t subsidize it. That the poor wouldn’t eat without food stamps. That somehow what they need in their lives wouldn’t be available in their lives if the government wasn’t there to regulate, subsidize, protect and mandate.
Which is astounding given the times of relative plenty we’re living in. Yes, we’re in the midst of an ugly and protected economic downturn, but we are still a nation where obesity is more of a societal problem than starvation. We are still a nation where “the poor” live in air conditioned comfort, watching their cable or satellite television or streaming Netflix to the iPads or laptops.
What’s more, the social safety nets liberalism promotes also promotes risky behavior. Young women are encouraged to be promiscuous because coverage for birth control and abortions will be mandated as a part of the insurance coverage they are now entitled to. College students are encouraged to run up huge amounts of student loan debt pursuing impractical degrees because the government is subsidizing and backing the loans. And if things in your career don’t work out? There’s something like 100 weeks of unemployment and a myriad of programs for food and shelter to fall back on.
Life is a risky place. The social policies of the left seem aimed at leeching out that risk, and yet what they’re achieving is policy which drags society toward a lowest common denominator. By creating more demand or need for government services the Democrats build themselves a constituency for their policies.
That it’s hurting America is, apparently, beside the point.