The church must awaken to the new materialism of today’s young urban professionals.

It is a well-established ritual of American life: at year’s end, word-weary journalists compete to distill the past and future into a word or phrase. Last year was no exception; and I was fascinated by Newsweek’s offering, a cover story characterizing 1984 as “The Year of the Yuppie.”

As most people know by now, a yuppie is a young urban professional. He or she has been described as an aging hippie transformed by a $20 haircut and upper-middle-class values; a baby boomer in his or her thirties, a one-time rebel now domesticated. As one self-confessed yuppie put it, “We tried drugs and sex and all those things. Now we’re becoming the children our parents wanted us to be.”

As I read the Newsweek article I found myself again thinking like a politician; my electoral antennae tingled as I read about this fast-emerging power bloc. Yuppies, Newsweek said, control almost one-quarter of the national income. They are keenly interested in economic issues; they are clustering in certain cities.

I was tempted to pull out a map of the U.S. to chart where the electoral fault lines would move, the shifts in voter alignment that the yuppies portend. When I was in the White House, such analysis was reflex action. We took daily polls, always on the lookout for indications that voters’ preferences were moving one way or another. We would quickly seize on such movements to score political points. I often wrote speeches for the President based on narrow demographic data. Hamtramck, Michigan, for example, contained a preponderance of Polish-American voters who were sensitive to busing; hence, Nixon’s area advertisements would all talk about his antibusing positions. ...

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