Some People Really Are Victims of Bad Family Policies

COMMENTARY: The thing is, America’s citizens have the tools to correct that course.

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Tucker Carlson, a popular Fox News commentator, recently raised a firestorm with his comment in his Jan. 2 monologue, “If you want to put America first, you’ve got to put its families first.” Not only did the left make predictable objections. Some conservative critics, for instance, at National Review, also took issue with Carlson’s opinions. I am fundamentally not here to defend Tucker Carlson. He is a big boy in the media and can take of himself. Nor do I wish to pick a fight with his conservative critics: They make important points. I just want to say two things. First, some people really are victims of bad public policy regarding the family. Second, some people in the elite classes really are imposing their values on everyone else. Calling this “class warfare” is not too strong a description of our current policy situation regarding marriage and family.

Carlson’s critics jump up and down all over him about his suggestion that the elites are victimizing people. “Creating a victim culture is bad,” they say. I agree. But if people are victims of injustice, we need to put a stop to the injustice. People who have been kicked out of their families by no-fault divorce are, in fact, victims. Professor Stephen Baskerville has documented this extensively in The New Politics of Sex. Welfare recipients whose marriage decisions are distorted by marriage penalties built into social-assistance payments can also be considered victims. So are children whose minds are poisoned against both self-discipline and marital fidelity by sex “education” in government-funded schools. (Who gave the state the right to teach children how to put condoms on bananas? Where are the libertarians when you need them?)

“Class warfare is destructive,” Carlson’s critics say. I agree. But if one group of people is systematically advocating policies that benefit their class and are destructive to other classes, what exactly are we supposed to call it? Here are a few examples that I am willing to call “class warfare.”

The people of Texas, acting through their duly elected state legislators, enacted health-and-safety legislation for abortion businesses. The Supreme Court decision Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt overturned those regulations. Only after the Supreme Court handed down its decision did the public learn the source of the funding for the research that supported the arguments in the case. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (billionaire Warren Buffett’s foundation in honor of his deceased wife) and other big-money-funded foundations had been financing pro-abortion research for over a decade in anticipation of court challenges to pro-life legislation. Wealthy people overturning laws enacted through the democratic process is an act of class warfare. This is especially true when the law in question was an attempt to provide safer conditions for (mostly) poor people seeking abortions.

Medicaid rules favor a particular view of human sexuality. Contraception must be offered to all minors without their parents’ consent or knowledge. This policy places a wedge between parents and their children. It undermines parents’ ability to responsibly guide their own children. These rules don’t directly affect most college-educated professionals, since they are unlikely to ever qualify for Medicaid. In other words, rules made by the managerial technical classes undermine the parental authority of poor parents who rely on Medicaid. That’s class warfare.

I’m not saying that the class warfare waged by sexual revolutionaries is the hard-edged, deterministic, economic class warfare so beloved by Marxists. Sexual revolution class warfare is not deterministic: Many in the managerial classes do not agree with or promote these policies. For instance, pro-life doctors and lawyers dissent from this ideology. And they are very aware that they are unusual among their professional colleagues.

Nor am I saying that college-educated professionals intend to harm poor people. Nor am I saying that economic gain is the only, or even the primary, motivation for these sexual revolutionary anti-family policies. The motivations are more complex. But I do claim that poorer people are suffering disproportionately from policies supported and implemented disproportionately by better-off people.

It is also undeniable that some people are making money from the sexual revolution and from family breakdown. One can say that there is a whole industry of divorce professionals. Not only lawyers and judges make money from divorce. Financial analysts, mediators, psychologists and social workers get involved in dividing the assets of the family during the divorce process and managing conflict after divorce.

Truly poor people in our society don’t have many divorces; they don’t get married in the first place. But our social-welfare system based on nonmarital childbearing creates jobs for thousands of members of the managerial class. All those government payments must be processed. Social programs, including housing, medical, educational and after-school programs, all must be administered. Applications must be taken. Eligibility must be determined. Someone — usually someone with some level of college education — must do all these jobs.

I don’t know what Tucker Carlson or his critics meant to say about all this. But I know what I mean. We have numerous family policies that are stupid and destructive. We could change those policies if we wanted to. I want to. How about you?

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and How the Church Has Been Right All Along,

which includes a 15-point “Manifesto for the Family. The first 10 of those points are things the government must stop doing.