The Trump administration’s scariest policy—forcibly taking children away from their parents on the Southern border—may finally end the myth that the Republican party is “pro-family,” or demonstrates “family values.”
Those phrases are really just euphemisms for the grand bargain at the center of the party. Starting in the Reagan years, the business wing of the party has tolerated, or even embraced, the social values of white evangelical Christianity in exchange for their activism and votes.
The white evangelical family is supposed to like this: married man and woman, who have lots of biological kids, and the woman doesn’t work. Of course, that is not at all representative of the modern American family.
I remember a conversation with two friends a few weeks ago: I was explaining the structure of my wife’s family, which involves adoption, step siblings, some divorce, and a lot of cohabitation out of wedlock. (I come from a classic nuclear family, though my mom did and does work.)
“You’d need a flow chart to really figure it out,” I said, as a joke.
My friends didn’t laugh. It was like joking about the sky being blue. It was corny and redundant. They both said that you’d need the same for their families.
I knew this on some level, but didn’t put it together. The Republican party, en masse, either does not know about any of it, or does not care. They do not care that the majority of women work, and more children than ever have unmarried parents or step parents, or that queer people want to have families, or… and on and on.
So, that leaves the question: what policies has the Republican party created or endorsed for the American family?
- Child hunger (and hunger in general): Many Republicans want to cut or eliminate SNAP, aka food stamps. 13 million U.S. children are often hungry, which is about 1 in 6 U.S. children.
- Mass incarceration, especially for men of color, especially Black men: We’re locking up lots of people for no good reason at all. Plus, Jeff Sessions is working hard to undo the meager prison reforms of the Obama administration, proving that the buzzy conservative turn against mass incarceration is window dressing. In many Black communities, the men are just gone, in prison. They can’t be fathers, and the women have to pick up the slack.
- Opposition to gay adoption and gay marriage: A 2018 Georgia bill sponsored by Republicans would let adoption agencies deny service to queer couples. They’re still attacking gay marriage.
- Protecting the gun rights of domestic abusers: In writing and rhetoric, Republicans are against arming domestic abusers, but in reality, they fight for laws that let just about anyone arm themselves. That’s scary, because more than half of women who are killed with a gun are shot by a family member or romantic partner.
- Opposition to paid family leave and childcare: The United States is one of about five countries in the world that does not allow new parents to take paid family leave from work. Republicans generally oppose paid family leave. The only serious Republican proposal to create paid family leave would raid the Social Security trust fund, and quite possibly end Social Security altogether.
Oh, and it bears repeating: the Trump administration stole thousands of children from their parents for no good reason. See a pattern now?