The Republican Party and Family Values

Every four years the two major parties publish their “platforms” which include all the issues, beliefs, and policy statements they will support through the next presidential election cycle. Here are all the bullet points from the current Republican platform which focuses on seventeen separate issues such as college costs, healthcare, safe neighborhoods, and combatting drug abuse.

At the very top of the Republican agenda the first two issues highlighted are:

You may click on these to see how the GOP specifically defines each, but what you will find is predictable if you know anything about the Republican Party. In recent decades that party has focused on “traditional” family values (one woman and one man), church, neighborhoods, God, and marriage. The current platform rejects the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergfell v Hodges guaranteeing same sex couples the right to marry and states a desire to reverse that decision. The platform also argues that businesses should be allowed to deny service to same sex couples if serving those couples violates the owners’ religious views.

The platform concludes that the decline of traditional values has led to a greater dependence on government because “families, schools, congregations, and neighborhoods” create “spaces where government should not intrude” and allow citizens to work together to solve their own problems “without government interference”.

Again, none of this is surprising to anyone familiar with the Republican platform in recent years. These views are consistent with contemporary “conservatism”.

Most Republicans today would call anyone “liberal” who believes government should ONLY interfere in people’s lives when individual actions might adversely affect others. This is the view that if my actions don’t harm anyone but myself I should be left alone, and that freedom would cover a host of activities from marriage to wearing seatbelts. If, for example, my marriage or relationship with someone doesn’t have a direct impact on you, it is none of your business. The truth is that those views are not liberal but are, in fact, libertarian (ultra conservative) and should on principle be shared by Republicans who argue for limited government. Remember that the current platform argues for less “government interference”?

In my opinion this is the major Republican Party inconsistency (and before you begin jumping to conclusions, remember that I absolutely am not a Democrat). The GOP doesn’t want government interfering in businesses, doesn’t want government providing healthcare, opposes many governmental efforts to protect our environment, and wants to limit individuals’ rights to sue doctors who engage in malpractice thus limiting the government’s role in resolving such disputes. Again, all of this is in the platform.

But the Republican Party DOES want the government involved in defining family and family values, and that definition would be one woman and one man with kids and a dog (preferably a Golden Retriever). The GOP’s platform offers valid data demonstrating that children raised by such a family are less likely to engage in questionable behavior, and it is true that children born out of wedlock are statistically more likely to live in poverty, use drugs and alcohol too early, and engage in criminal behavior. On those points I agree, but that’s only part of the story. It assumes that the only legitimate families are those involving two parents, a male and a female.

Same sex couples were given national marriage rights less than three years ago. That means those couples have been raising families in very small numbers, so there is no way to measure the success of such families raising children over time. Based on my own observations I would be willing to bet children raised by same sex couples will statistically be at least as healthy, happy, and  well-rounded as kids raised by “traditional” families. I know a good number of same sex couples who are wonderful parents and their children are lucky. I also know some “traditional” parents who should be nowhere near kids. I also assume that two loving and caring individuals of the same sex would be much better parents than the many dysfunctional “traditional” families children suffer through.

And I don’t disagree that children should ideally be raised by two parents (I cannot imagine walking that path alone!), but sometimes that just isn’t possible. Young men and women (or boys and girls) driven by hormones often have unprotected sex, committed couples may split up leaving only one full time parent, relationships may become abusive leading to divorce, and spouses sometimes die. Again, I know a good number of single parents who are raising or have raised very wonderful and successful kids. We should try to find ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies and then offer support rather than condemnation when it does happen or when children otherwise have only one parent.

It also seems that Republicans supporting traditional family values would oppose infidelity and divorce. However,  26% of Republicans have been divorced, only slightly fewer than the 29% of Democrats.

And what about infidelity? A couple of years ago Ashley Madison, a website that helps married people link up and have extramarital affairs, polled 105,000 of its members to determine who they were. In that poll 25.1% said they were “born again” Christian (only 1.4% claimed atheism). Again, this group would be mostly Republican. This is an unscientific poll and doesn’t necessarily reflect society, but the results are interesting nevertheless. And a 2009 poll found that 15% of Republicans admitted having at least one affair (again only slightly lower than the 19% of unfaithful Democrats).

It seems to me that a party truly supporting traditional family values would fight to pass laws banning divorce and would spurn those engaging in extramarital affairs, but the Republican Party:

  • Nominated and supported a Senatorial candidate from Alabama who was accused of stalking and molesting teenage girls (there was a great deal of evidence supporting those claims).
  • Continues to support the Missouri governor who admitted to an extramarital affair with his hairdresser.
  • Continued to support Newt Gingrich even after  he admitted having affairs on his first two wives.
  • Nominated and helped elect a serial philanderer who admitted cheating on his wives and bragged about grabbing women’s private parts and who is now accused by the very conservative Wall Street Journal of paying a porn star to remain silent about a sexual relationship (one that allegedly occurred after marrying his current wife).
  • And more.

Since 2000 3/4 of the political sex scandals involved Republicans.

And remember that I don’t like either major party and I believe it is time to throw them both out of office, but in my opinion the Republican Party’s hypocrisy on “family values” pretty much takes the proverbial cake. How can the party openly state that it supports traditional family values yet support its members who blatantly disregard those values?

Maybe it is time for the GOP to return to its truly conservative values and get government out of the private lives of American citizens. It is certainly time for that Party to stop claiming the moral high ground and once again begin focusing on the legitimate argument that government is too big.

Don’t worry. I’ll write about the Democratic Party’s problems sometime soon.