He was corrupt. He was petty, angry and resentful. He was also one of the most astute politicians in the annals of the American presidency. Time after time he overcame obstacles and defeats to rise again. His genius, ultimately, was this: He envisioned a new coalition and knew how to channel white resentment over the civil rights and antiwar movements into political triumph. This was his gift, and his legacy. Americans today inhabit the partisan universe that Richard Milhous Nixon crafted. Republican leaders to this very day speak Nixon’s language and employ Nixon’s tactics of fear and anger to win massive white majorities in election upon election. Indeed, though Nixon eventually resigned in disgrace before he could be impeached, the last half-century has been rather kind to the Republican Party. Only three Democrats have been elected president in that period, and Republicans have reigned over the White House for a majority of the post-Nixon era.
On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion lawin the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory.
The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto “birth strike” by women who, unable to afford adequate health insurance and exorbitant medical bills and denied access to paid parental leave, child care and job protection, find it financially punitive to have children. Not since 1971 have births in the United States been at replacement levels, considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a ratio needed for a generation to replace itself. Current births number 1,728 per 1,000 women, a decline of 2% from 2017. Without a steady infusion of immigrants, the U.S. population would be plummeting.