ON-Lion Letter

In June, Ben Wattenberg died.

According to a remembrance by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) senior fellow and research coordinator Karlyn Bowman, "Ben Wattenberg joined AEI in 1977.  He had been a speechwriter to Lyndon Johnson, an adviser to Humbert Humphrey, and a friend and long-time supporter of Senator Henry 'Scoop' Jackson.  Wattenberg  was one of the great amateur demographers of our time, and he drew vivid portraits of the nation's ever-changing population.  In 1970, he and Richard Scammon wrote 'The Real Majority,' a book that remains popular in political circles for its deep understanding of American political landscape.  Wattenberg and Scammon were the first analysts to name a group on which election outcomes would turn.  Understanding the views of their 'Dayton housewife,' who was from the middle of the country with a mid-level education and a mid-level job, would be key to political victory."

Bowman's work at AEI is supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as was Wattenberg's.

"In 1975," Bowman continues, Wattenberg "wrote an article for the New Republic, calling worries about a population explosion nonsense.  He argued that the problem facing many societies going forward would be a birth dearth.  At the time, the New Republic received more letters than the magazine had ever received about a single article, and most of them were hostile.  But Wattenberg’s analysis was correct, and declining fertility is one of the most important demographic stories of our time.

"While at AEI, Wattenberg wrote extensively about population trends and values," she concludes.  "In 1978, he introduced AEI’s popular magazine Public Opinion.  He produced several long-running and popular PBS series including 'Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg,' 'In Search of the Real America,' and 'Ben Wattenberg at Large.'  In 2001, AEI published 'The First Measured Century:  An Illustrated Guide to Trends in America, 1900 to 2000,' written by Wattenberg, Theodore Caplow, and Louis Hicks, which was also featured on PBS.  He was a strong believer in American exceptionalism and always championed America's values and its patriotic spirit.  We mourn his passing."

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