NYT Discovers the 'Natalist' Movement
Bubba's Blog links to an interesting David Brooks piece in today's New York Times. The media's quest to find new differences between "red" and "blue" areas in America is starting to sound almost anthropological. Reporters keep discovering all these new categories of Americans. The latest group are "natalists". According to Brooks, these folks are:
having three, four or more kids. Their personal identity is defined by parenthood. They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.
In a world that often makes it hard to raise large families, many are willing to move to find places that are congenial to natalist values. The fastest-growing regions of the country tend to have the highest concentrations of children. Young families move away from what they perceive as disorder, vulgarity and danger and move to places like Douglas County in Colorado (which is the fastest-growing county in the country and has one of the highest concentrations of kids). Some people see these exurbs as sprawling, materialistic wastelands, but many natalists see them as clean, orderly and affordable places where they can nurture children.
Surprisingly, Brooks doesn't condemn their lifestyle or accuse them of "escaping from reality". But, I think articles like this are doing something else. They're attempting to apply multiculturalist notions to all Americans.
What I mean by that is that we're trying to compartmentalize everyone in America. It wasn't enough to try to fit us in boxes based on our race or gender, now we have to be divided into "red state voters" and "blue state voters" and "natalists" and "values voters" and on and on and on. All this does is further divide us, and I don't understand the purpose of it. Is it so that politicians can more easily figure out who to pander to and how to do it? Or, is the media writing articles like this so that both liberals and conservatives can more easily stereotype each other?
Unfortunately for those seeking to stereotype their political enemies, Americans are a strange lot. Over 600,000 New Yorkers don't fit the urban profile (they voted for Bush). Over 2.8 million Texans voted for Kerry. It's easy to define someone's beliefs by their demographics. And then to dismiss those beliefs because those people are not like you. It's like we're dealing with the election on some strange continuum. At first those who voted against your chosen candidate were either evil or stupid. Now, we've moved on to thinking that they're simply "different", with all the veiled contempt that that term implies. I suppose that's progress, but I'd rather someone disagree with my ideas and talk to me about it rather than just dismiss me and my beliefs as "different".
Posted by at December 7, 2004 05:36 PM
The trackback entry for this page is : http://www.inthehat.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/562
|# March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM Converted_Comment|
Ah, but Brooks DOES condemn their lifestyle, albeit subtly.
These people have given up "sophisticated movies"...implying that they still rent Adam Sandler movies in their overcrowded double-wide.
They've forsaken "foreign travel". How about DOMESTIC travel?! Doesn't that count? Orlando may not be as EXOTIC as Bangkok, but at least they have running water. And not as many child prostitutes.
and "let alone competitive careers". CONDESCENDING, DO YA THINK??? Yeah, these people aren't smart enough for skilled occupations or running THEIR OWN business; all they can do is vacation in the Ozarks and BREED.
Mr. Brooks, your father should've pulled out early.