May 11, 2016

My Great-Grandchildren's Names Help Explain Hillary's Problem

Yesterday I posted about the birth of Emira, my sixth great- grandchild.  Here are the names of my six great-grandchildren:

My granddaughter Emily has two: Emarie and Emira.

Granddaughter Jessie has four: Kaylee, Kenzie, Camden, and Hannah.

Okay, how many of those names have you seen before?

Hannah is the only one I'd seen before. Whatever happened to John and Mary, the two most popular names for the past 500 years?

I checked the site the Social /Security Administration maintains on the most popular baby names and here's some of what I found:

The Top 10 Boy's Names in the 1880's share six members with the 10 Most Popular Boy's Names in the 1950's: John, William, James, Robert, Charles, and Thomas. But the Top 10 Boy's Names for 2015 only includes one name from that list -- William.

I brooded about this. For about  500 years, the list of the most popular baby names had a basic stability. Sure, specific names would gain or lose popularity over the years. But each year's list when compared with those for five or 10 years earlier would show that many of the names, often a majority of them, were the same.

But in recent years, young parents have increasingly rejected the old, boring names and instead chose something new and different nearly every time. My boring old name had been in the top five in England and the U.S. for centuries. Then in the early 1970s, it dropped out of the top five. Its loss of popularity was relatively slow at first but it accelerated after the 21st century began. Last year, John ranked No.26.

Political Implications
In our presidential primaries this year, younger voters clearly rejected the familiar old political names of Clinton and Bush. The young Democrats continue to display enthusiasm for the new and different Bernie Sanders. And the new and very difference Donald Trump already is the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Our younger voters clearly reject both the names and ideas associated with the old establishment. The inexperience of Trump and Sanders -- with respect to getting things done by our government -- and the naïveté of their vague proposals don't seem to matter. What counts is that these men and their ideas are new and different.

Hillary Clinton needs to come up with some new ideas. Even this soon-to-be-age 87 man with the old and boring name John is tired of hearing only slightly altered versions of the same political proposals I've been hearing for years.

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