The Culture War is over, and the liberals have won. With the legalization and broad acceptance of gay marriage, the last great bastion of government-supported traditionalism in Western society has been swept away. Elsewhere, the armies of traditionalism are collapsing on almost every front. America is becoming less religious with stunning speed. Interracial marriage, once banned, is now the norm. Marijuana is slowly being legalized for recreational use. Women are close to achieving economic equality with men, and female breadwinners are becoming the norm. Casual sex is almost universally tolerated as a permissible recreational activity.
This is a prelude to a plea to reach out to the conservatives on the issue of family stability:
It’s time to reach out to conservatives on the issue of family stability. It’s becoming clear that traditional family gender roles—the idea that the man should be able to be the sole breadwinner—are not sustainable in the modern economic environment. This is probably one reason behind the breakdown of two-parent families among the working class, as documented by Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart. But liberals—the same kale-munching, bottle-recycling goofballs that National Review and David Brooks have spent decades lampooning—have found a better way. The better way is what Richard Reeves, in a landmark article in The Atlantic, calls “High Investment Parenting.” When families focus on the kids, instead of on maintaining traditional gender roles, it turns out to be a lot easier to keep the family together.
While I saw this post linked to and retweeted, oddly enough, it was only men doing so. Perhaps that’s because one of the key components to a stable marriage is birth control. This is something that movement conservatives, at least publicly*, have been fighting against for the last half-decade. I’ll turn it over to this feminist radical, who wrote this in 1966, years before Roe v. Wade (boldface mine):
There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess….
Recently the subject of Negro family life has received extensive attention. Unfortunately, studies have overemphasized the problem of the Negro male ego and almost entirely ignored the most serious element — Negro migration. During the past half century Negroes have migrated on a massive scale, transplanting millions from rural communities to crammed urban ghettoes. In their migration, as with all migrants, they carried with them the folkways of the countryside into an inhospitable city slum. The size of family that may have been appropriate and tolerable on a manually cultivated farm was carried over to the jammed streets of the ghetto. In all respects Negroes were atomized, neglected and discriminated against. Yet, the worst omission was the absence of institutions to acclimate them to their new environment. Margaret Sanger, who offered an important institutional remedy, was unfortunately ignored by social and political leaders in this period. In consequence, Negro folkways in family size persisted. The problem was compounded when unrestrained exploitation and discrimination accented the bewilderment of the newcomer, and high rates of illegitimacy and fragile family relationships resulted.
For the Negro, therefore, intelligent guides of family planning are a profoundly important ingredient in his quest for security and a decent life. There are mountainous obstacles still separating Negroes from a normal existence. Yet one element in stabilizing his life would be an understanding of and easy access to the means to develop a family related in size to his community environment and to the income potential he can command.
This is not to suggest that the Negro will solve all his problems through Planned Parenthood…Yet if family planning is sensible it can facilitate or at least not be an obstacle to the solution of the many profound problems that plague him….
Like all poor, Negro and white, they have many unwanted children. This is a cruel evil they urgently need to control. There is scarcely anything more tragic in human life than a child who is not wanted. That which should be a blessing becomes a curse for parent and child.
We’ll just elide past the whole issue of abortion, which, when there is an unwanted pregnancy, is a blessing.
If conservatives want to support policies that help strengthen families, they’re welcome to join us–I care very little for the reasoning they use to get there. But don’t be naive: movement conservatives aren’t surrendering on this issue at all, especially at the state and local levels. They are having great success in blocking reproductive health measures–not just abortion, but also contraception; in fact, they’re turning back the clock. They are not rethinking and reconsidering, merely regrouping and rearming.
Not swords into plowshares time quite yet.
*All joking aside, when you see a conservative politician with his wife and three or fewer kids, how do you think that happened?
Added: Mississippi, admittedly not exactly a bastion of liberalism, is about to pass a bill that, like the failed bill in Arizona, would allow businesses to discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation. A ways to go, I think.
Related: Comrade Driftglass brings the heat as well.