The decline of the American family is the hidden issue in our election. Sadly, neither presidential candidate is talking about our family structure or traditional values in any positive or constructive way. But we are now facing a crisis of serious proportions that affects all Americans, regardless of race and class.
Charles Murray details the breakdown of working-class white families in his recent book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” It amplifies what Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote almost 50 years ago about the implications of the disintegration of the black family for American life.
This problem requires affirmative policies that strengthen the nuclear family, enhance traditional values and develop inclusive social and economic policies. Yet both presidential candidates are now seeking to polarize on the basis of sexual preference, marital status or lifestyle.
We cannot achieve our national goals, much less reach a broad-based national sense of purpose, without addressing the issue of the family and the related challenges that flow from it. It is just not the Democrats and Republicans who have ignored the issue — our cultural institutions, the media and, in large measure, our elites have failed to address this problem, as well.
President Barack Obama has used his presidency only to be a governmental and political leader. He has failed to offer moral leadership, much less address the issue of the American family — an issue he successfully addressed in his own personal life.
Obama’s recent announcement of support for gay marriage was just his latest assertion of a Hollywood-Big Money-friendly campaign position. It follows his recent announcement that religious-affiliated health care institutions must condone contraception — notwithstanding the preference of those institutions or their leadership.
Yet the president has been virtually silent about the wide range of issues concerning family structure, education and job training, as well as youth unemployment. He has certainly not mentioned the high rate of black teenage unemployment.
Mitt Romney has similarly avoided offering a specific vision for America’s future — unlike Ronald Reagan. Romney has failed to suggest that his candidacy offers anything but a set of fiscal principles divergent from those Obama and the Democrats have advanced. In fact, Romney has said he is “not concerned about the very poor.” Though he tried to clarify his remarks the next day, Romney has not presented any comprehensive social and economic policies that could enhance family structure and benefit all Americans.
Romney’s support for traditional family values has been driven more by his attack on gay marriage and support for anti-abortion rights than any acknowledgement of the challenges facing families today. He has offered no new policies to strengthen and help families.
Both parties’ apparent willingness to ignore this major issue is disheartening. No one is discussing the fact that divorce, in large measure, is driven by the challenges families face trying to support themselves, their children and their aging parents. Neither party has acknowledged the challenges created by the disintegration of both black and white families, nor have they offered a pro-family agenda to strengthen and rebuild those families.