Every four years, at the time of the presidential elections, I get more annoyed by the irrelevance of the debate on family values. This week, the Arizona episode of the republican debate sank to a record low on this issue. We heard the chorus of the four knights of the traditional heterosexual family whining about its disappearance: Apprentice Patriarch Santorum quoted the New York Times on 40% of children born out of wedlock, Mr. Virtue -Romney- added that 40% of these children born in sin were from certain groups (guess whose) and lamented the lack of abstinence teaching in school, Marriage Boulimic Gingrich kicked at Obama rewarding infanticide doctors. The pearl was Paul’s synthesis of this fruitful exchange: “don’t blame the pill, blame immorality.” Yes folks, the poor are immoral (and by the way, they don’t have the money to buy the pill), and the rich virtuous. And eventually the poor can be rich, with less government, more free markets and a return to the gold standard. I guess there is an antique quality to it that may make it sound novel.
Let’s leave eighteenth century Europe, fast forward and listen to the democratic side of the debate. We are not yet in the twenty-first century. What do we hear there? On the one hand, some very timid openings to other types of families, that led by same-sex parents; on the other hand, the defense of the “traditional” family. Who is to blame for its troubles? One culprit: Immoral men deserting their families, leaving misery and single motherhood behind them. Actually the law has the bastards pay for it. Thats’ actually the only right they have: pay child support and better stay employed if they don’t want to end up in jail.
When will these sinister charlatans stop preaching and get real? The traditional American family has lost its preeminence? De profundis. Let us work with the families we have and give divorced fathers what they don’t have: the right to raise their children – and the obligations that come with it- on an equal footing with their ex-wife or girlfriend. We will find out that single moms may be single moms but no single parent. And everybody, children mostly perhaps, will be better off.