Can Republicans Win in a Post-Family America?

The end of marriage will lead to big government.

families-1For the first time in American statistical history, the majority of American adults are single. 124 million or 50.2% of Americans are single. Some will get married, but increasing numbers never will.

Demographically a population of single adults means the death of the Republican Party. It eliminates the possibility of libertarian and fiscally conservative policies. It leads inevitably to the welfare state.

Single people are less likely to have a support system that keeps them from becoming a public charge. Children born to single parents perform poorly in school and are more likely to engage in criminal behavior. A nation of single people will inevitably become a welfare state and a police state.

The statistics have always been known and the conclusions to be drawn from them are inescapable.

A lot of attention is being paid to the political consequences of the nation’s changing racial demographics, but it’s not a coincidence that the racial group that Republicans perform worst with is also the least likely to be married. While there are other factors in the mix, Republicans do better with married than unmarried black people.

The same is true of most other racial groups.

The latest Reuters poll shows that 36% of married Hispanics are planning to vote for a Democratic candidate in the upcoming midterm election and 28% are planning to vote for a Republican candidate. Among unmarried Hispanics, those numbers change to 42% Democratic and %15 Republican.

If Republicans want to start getting serious about the Hispanic vote, they might want to spend less time muttering about amnesty and more time thinking about where their strength with married voters lies.

Married white voters lean toward a Republican candidate by 43% to 24%. Among single white voters, Democrats lead 34% to 26%.

There are other factors that affect these numbers such as age, race, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. Growing minority demographics have certainly helped make single Americans a statistical majority, but it’s dangerous to ignore the bigger picture of the post-family demographic trend.

If Republicans insist on running against the nanny state, they will have to replace it with something. That something was traditionally the family. Take away the family and something else has to fill its place.

In the West, government has become the new family. The state is father and occasionally mother. The nanny state is literally a nanny. It may be hated, but it is also needed.

That is why married whites oppose ObamaCare 65% to 34% while single whites also oppose it, but by a narrower margin of 53% to 47%.

ObamaCare’s support base among whites is highest among single white men and women. (Despite Julia and Sandra Fluke, the latest poll numbers show that young single white women oppose ObamaCare by a higher margin than young single white men. Pajama Boy with his hot cocoa is more likely to be a fervent proponent of ObamaCare than Julia. But the margins for both sexes remain narrow.)

It’s unrealistic to expect people to vote against their short term interests. Without family, the individual is vulnerable. A single bad day can leave him homeless and hungry. While the system of social welfare actually intensifies the overall economic conditions that are likely lead to such a state of vulnerability, those who are caught in that cycle will choose to protect themselves from the consequences in the short term without considering the long term causation cost to themselves and everyone else.

That was the logic behind ObamaCare. It’s the logic behind the entire spending spree of the nanny state.

If Republicans are going to start winning based on something other than the public’s frustration with Obama, they will have to address this reality. Republicans have treated family as a reference point, like the United States or the dollar, a verity that would always be there, a word that they could reference to show their singular virtue without having to meaningfully assess and address what was wrong with it.

The American vision of limited government depended on a stable society that could fend for itself. The progressives originally gained power from the collapse of large economic institutions which they used to prove that their intervention was needed. They have gained even more power from the collapse of social institutions.

Without an underlying network of families maintaining a working society, the nanny state grows. And it doesn’t limit its attentions to those who seek it out. Small scale solutions are made possible by the integrity of small institutions. Without the order created by the small institution of the family, the order that teaches children right from wrong, that cares for its elderly parents and supports members of the family, the only alternative becomes the large scale solution of the totalitarian state and its bureaucracy.

Republicans cannot campaign on policies that assume that the family is the dominant institution once it no longer is. If they do not place a fiscally conservative agenda within the larger context of restoring the family, they will become the advocates of policies that hardly anyone except their donor base supports.

Three choices lie ahead.

The Republican Party can fight for the family. It can abandon fiscal conservatism and social conservatism in both word and deed to pursue its real program of trying to make big government work. Or it can look for alternative institutions that can replace both family and government.

Faith-based programs attempted to bypass the social disaster of the lost family without ceding the social territory to big government, but there is only so much that any entity outside the family can do. No amount of programs can fill the gap for a child or an adult. The family is an organic wraparound entity. Replacing it led to a Great Society in which a horde of social workers, teachers, psychologists, parole officers and sociologists struggled to fill the role of a mother and a father.

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child except in a failed state and no village can afford to hire an entire other village to raise its children. That, among other things, is what is bringing California to its knees.

Replacing the family, with or without government, is expensive and difficult. Republicans can and should champion private sector alternatives to government takeovers, faith-based or otherwise, but such an approach will only delay the inevitable. There really is no institutional replacement for the family.

The demographic shift taking place is critical because it will determine whether we have a big government or a small government.

Republicans can either adapt to a post-family America by becoming the party of the welfare state or they can work toward an America that is once again centered around the institution of the family.

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