Jeb Bush: "Immigrants Are More Fertile"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 14 2013 11:25 AM

Jeb Bush Tells Conservatives to Welcome More Baby-Having Immigrants

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, June 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The emerging theme on day two of the (deep breath) Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference is the womb. Conservatives use it. Conservatives respect what's in it. Liberals don't—they have fewer babies, and they keep abortion legal.

"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan won a majority of the vote," said movie critic-turned-right wing radio host Michael Medved. "They won voters who were married by 16 points." The Democrats had bested them with landslides among the poor and the single, and could conservatives allow that trend to continue? "Who wants to be poor, and single, and childless?"


Jeb Bush, who gives political speeches like he'd rather be anywhere else, put it in blunt terms that reporters weren't used to hearing. "We’re going to have fewer workers taking care of a larger number of people than the country has a social contract with, to be able to allow them to retire with dignity and purpose," he said. "We cannot do that with the fertility rates that we have in our country." The low fertility rates could be partly explained by "social mores" (he didn't mention abortion), and they could be rejiggered by immigration. "Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families and they have more intact families and they bring a younger population."

According to National Journal (and my Twitter feed), Bush's comments made people angry. Their beef is with the word "fertile"—if you're a stickler, it means the ability to have babies. You wouldn't say that a 29-year-old female lobbyist who chooses not to have kids until she's 35 is "infertile." But this is pedantry, and pointless—it's fascinating that Bush would up and tell conservatives that they should embrace immigrants because their higher birth rates will keep the welfare state humming. That's not a good reason for them! They see a future in which single liberals have one or zero children while conservatives produce armies of Duggars who will outvote the enemy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.