Marriage and family are good, but liberals won’t admit it

Political divides are dramatically and rapidly shifting. As the country clubs shift to the Democrats and the factory towns go Republican, Hispanic and black voters are becoming a bit less Democratic.

The GOP is becoming less economically conservative, and the Democratic Party is becoming more liberal on social issues involving sex (embracing gender ideology and abortion absolutism).

One constant trend is that family values seem to be a dividing line. Married people are more likely to be Republican. Parents are more likely to be Republican. Conservatives have more children than do liberals. Liberals are more likely to say they have no interest in children or marriage.

Considering those facts, this new finding from the Pew Research Center wouldn’t be surprising if not for the magnitude of the partisan difference:

Here’s an easy surface reading of this result from Pew: Conservatives value family, while liberals value politics, self-actualization, and work.

This isn’t totally false, but there are a hundred massive qualifications and complications here.

For one thing, the demographics that get married and stay married the most are college-educated, upper-middle-class, white couples — exactly the demographic that has tacked most toward the Democrats in the past decade.

Also, it’s always important to consider the precise wording of the question and how the average respondent might take the question. In this case, Pew asked people which statement they agreed with more:

(A) “Society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority.”

Or

(B) “Society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”

To be sure, Statement A is obviously correct, as I lay out in detail in my new book. A society with more marriage and more children is a happier, more hopeful society. Married men behave better, and children make everyone, even non-parents, behave better (not always, but in general). Then there are the economic harms of our massive and self-perpetuating baby bust.

But I understand why some liberals who have not yet read my book would side with Statement B. Americans generally don’t want to tell people how to run their personal lives. Middle-aged and older liberals have a very strong aversion to anything that could sound judgmental or preachy. (Many young liberals are incredibly preachy and judgmental, as the actions on college campuses this spring show, and they actively dislike marriage and parenthood.)

If you have a very strong aversion to sounding preachy, you might shy from saying that “society will benefit if people do _____ with their personal lives” because it could come across as preachy or judgy.

Some of the liberals in this poll actively dislike marriage and family, but I would bet most of them are just afraid to say marriage and family are best. This is an interesting demonstration of the phenomenon conservatives have long pointed out: Upper-middle-class and wealthy liberals refuse to preach the virtues they practice.

That’s too bad because while doing good things is very good, calling good things good is also important.

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