Friday, November 10, 2006

All the Lonely People

It has been well-documented that we are marrying later here in America, and it is affecting our politics. USA Today's story listed above suggested that it might affect our electoral politics in this, and future, elections.

What struck me in the article is how all of the districts with the highest percentage of married people went to Republicans and how all of the lowest percentages went to Democrats and how many of the battleground districts were ones where the number of married and unmarried districts approached 50%.

When I first began the thought of writing this post, I wanted to simply point out how we are marrying later. It is a trend that is developing, and I am curious as to its causes. From an article in the Christian Science Monitor:

As the US moves toward 400 million people, Americans can be expected to marry later in life, and more of them will live alone. Between 1970 and 2005, the median age of first marriage moved from 23 to 27 for men and from 21 to 26 for women. Over the same period, the percentage of single-person households grew from 17 percent to 26 percent. Those trends are likely to continue.

Another trend that is likely to continue: marriages that are "'Til Debt Do Us Part" as this article in USA Today indicates. From the article:

Money conspires to antagonize couples. It sometimes invites divorce. And though finances have always raised tensions for couples, it may be harder than ever these days to avoid conflict.

That's because today's range of family complications — moms leaving and re-entering the workforce, late marriages that bring debt and adult children, shrinking pensions and baffling health care choices — are demanding ever-more financial decisions from couples who can't even agree on whether the house is warm or cold.


There's a big problem, though: The USA is a nation of spenders, not savers. The personal savings rate is negative, meaning Americans spend more than they earn. And the portion of disposable income going toward paying down debt — including mortgage and credit card debt — is near a record high. Households with at least one credit card carried an average of $9,498 in card debt in 2005, nearly twice the level of a decade ago, according to

I still remember lawyers who talk about "how we used to fight over assets, and now all we fight about is debts." It not quite true, but it is not far off, either.

What the Republicans don't understand is this: those financial policies of maximizing profits at the expense of the working class is tearing into the very moral fabric of the married couples that make up their districts. Can the Democrats take advantage of the void left behind?

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