Présidentielle américaine/2012: Le parti républicain est devenu le parti des mariés et des religieux (Do marriage and religion help you stay Republican and privileged?)

Le mariage. Qui s’y intéressait avant que quelques militants ne lancent sur ce plateau déserté celui des homosexuels? Pas grand monde, et j’ai entendu dire, seuls quelques curés et quelques homosexuels. Les rares, sensibles au fait de se trouver exclus de cette institution. Les rares à souhaiter partager le carcan béni des hétéros, leur haire d’amour et leur discipline de couple! (…) Confondre l’égalité des droits des individus avec l’indifférenciation des sexes ne peut que rendre le sujet victime d’une privation : celle d’une complémentarité structurante, à savoir celle d’être né d’un père et d’une mère. Pas grave, me direz-vous, c’est la source de tant de problèmes! Alors, enfin soulagé avec les parents, P1, P2 ! Marc Knecht
Aux États-Unis, les plus opulents citoyens ont bien soin de ne point s’isoler du peuple ; au contraire, ils s’en rapprochent sans cesse, ils l’écoutent volontiers et lui parlent tous les jours. Alexis de Tocqueville
America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. (…) But t’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s. People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality. When Americans used to brag about « the American way of life »—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity. Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions. (…) Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a « family wage » that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years. (…) As I’ve argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of. But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn’t especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that’s not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best. Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference. The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That « something » has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering. The « something » that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending « nonjudgmentalism. » Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices. Charles Murray
A majority of Americans continue to oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Just over half (53%) oppose same-sex marriage, while 39% support it. The issue cuts along demographic, political and religious lines. Older Americans are far less supportive than young people (a 58%-majority of those ages 18-29 support gay marriage). Blacks are less supportive than are whites and Hispanics (26%, 39% and 45% respectively). Women are more supportive than men. Those with college education are more supportive than those without. Southerners and Midwesterners are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than are those in the East and West. But religion and politics provide the starkest differences. While 72% of liberal Democrats support same-sex marriage, an equally overwhelming 81% of conservative Republicans oppose it. And while a majority of those who never or seldom attend religious services are pro gay marriage (54%), less than a quarter of those that attend regularly (22%) support it. Pew (2009)
Half of Latinos now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while one-third are opposed. As recently as 2006, these figures were reversed (56% of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage, while 31% supported it). Latino evangelicals, however, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (66% opposed vs. 25% in favor). Pew (2012)
One of the stark lessons of Obama’s victory is the degree to which. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you’d need a word that means something much bigger than landslide. Obviously, Obama got some votes from the married and the religious (such people can marry their interests to the state, too), but as a generalization, the Obama coalition heavily depends on people who do not see family or religion as rival or superior sources of material aid or moral authority. Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married, though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. (…) Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that. Jonah Goldberg
A strong reason for that support for big government is that so many Hispanics use government programs. U.S.-born Hispanic households in California use welfare programs at twice the rate of native-born non-Hispanic households. And that is because nearly one-quarter of all Hispanics are poor in California, compared to a little over one-tenth of non-Hispanics. Nearly seven in ten poor children in the state are Hispanic, and one in three Hispanic children is poor, compared to less than one in six non-Hispanic children. One can see that disparity in classrooms across the state, which are chock full of social workers and teachers’ aides trying to boost Hispanic educational performance. The idea of the “social issues” Hispanic voter is also a mirage. A majority of Hispanics (52%) now support gay marriage, a Pew Research Center poll from last month found. The Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate is 53 percent, about twice that of whites. Heather MacDonald
It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged. Andrew Cherlin (Johns Hopkins)
The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t. And the people who least need to stick together do. Christopher Jencks (Harvard)
Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man. The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers. The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go. I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances. Sara McLanahan (Princeton)
Changes in family structure do not explain the gains of the very rich — the much-discussed “1 percent” and the richest among them. That story largely spills from Wall Street trading floors and corporate boardrooms. But for inequality more broadly, Mr. Western found that the growth in single parenthood in recent decades accounted for 15 percent to 25 percent of the widening income gaps. (Estimates depend on the time period, the income tiers and the definition of inequality.) Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution found it to account for 21 percent. Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute, comparing lower-middle- and upper-middle-income families, found that single parenthood explained about 40 percent of inequality’s growth. “That’s not peanuts,” he said. Across Middle America, single motherhood has moved from an anomaly to a norm with head-turning speed. (…) As recently as 1990, just 10 percent of the births to women like Ms. Schairer (white women with some postsecondary schooling but not a full college degree) occurred outside marriage, according to Child Trends. Now it has tripled to 30 percent, compared with just 8 percent for women of all races with college degrees. (…) Researchers have found that extracurricular activities can enhance academic performance, and scholars cite a growing activities gap to help explain why affluent children tend to do so much better than others in school. Four decades ago, families in the top income fifth spent about four times as much as those at the bottom fifth on things like sports, music and private schools, according to research by Greg J. Duncan of the University of California, Irvine, and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard. Now affluent families spend seven times as much. (…) While many studies have found that children of single parents are more likely to grow up poor, less is known about their chances of advancement as adults. But there are suggestions that the absence of a father in the house makes it harder for children to climb the economic ladder. The NYT

Ah! C’était donc pour ça que les homosexuels étaient si obsédés par le mariage  …

Au lendemain d’une élection qui a confirmé à quel point le parti républicain était devenu le parti des mariés et des religieux …

Et en ces temps étranges où ceux qui en auraient le plus besoin n’en veulent plus …

Pendant que  ceux qui en auraient le moins besoin continuent à le choisir …

Confirmation de la sociologie sur le lien apparemment important entre mariage et privilège …

Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’

Jason DeParle

The New York Times

July 14, 2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jessica Schairer has so much in common with her boss, Chris Faulkner, that a visitor to the day care center they run might get them confused.

They are both friendly white women from modest Midwestern backgrounds who left for college with conventional hopes of marriage, motherhood and career. They both have children in elementary school. They pass their days in similar ways: juggling toddlers, coaching teachers and swapping small secrets that mark them as friends. They even got tattoos together. Though Ms. Faulkner, as the boss, earns more money, the difference is a gap, not a chasm.

But a friendship that evokes parity by day becomes a study of inequality at night and a testament to the way family structure deepens class divides. Ms. Faulkner is married and living on two paychecks, while Ms. Schairer is raising her children by herself. That gives the Faulkner family a profound advantage in income and nurturing time, and makes their children statistically more likely to finish college, find good jobs and form stable marriages.

Ms. Faulkner goes home to a trim subdivision and weekends crowded with children’s events. Ms. Schairer’s rent consumes more than half her income, and she scrapes by on food stamps.

“I see Chris’s kids — they’re in swimming and karate and baseball and Boy Scouts, and it seems like it’s always her or her husband who’s able to make it there,” Ms. Schairer said. “That’s something I wish I could do for my kids. But number one, that stuff costs a lot of money and, two, I just don’t have the time.”

The economic storms of recent years have raised concerns about growing inequality and questions about a core national faith, that even Americans of humble backgrounds have a good chance of getting ahead. Most of the discussion has focused on labor market forces like falling blue-collar wages and lavish Wall Street pay.

But striking changes in family structure have also broadened income gaps and posed new barriers to upward mobility. College-educated Americans like the Faulkners are increasingly likely to marry one another, compounding their growing advantages in pay. Less-educated women like Ms. Schairer, who left college without finishing her degree, are growing less likely to marry at all, raising children on pinched paychecks that come in ones, not twos.

Estimates vary widely, but scholars have said that changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in certain measures of inequality. Long a nation of economic extremes, the United States is also becoming a society of family haves and family have-nots, with marriage and its rewards evermore confined to the fortunate classes.

“It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

About 41 percent of births in the United States occur outside marriage, up sharply from 17 percent three decades ago. But equally sharp are the educational divides, according to an analysis by Child Trends, a Washington research group. Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent.

Long concentrated among minorities, motherhood outside marriage now varies by class about as much as it does by race. It is growing fastest in the lower reaches of the white middle class — among women like Ms. Schairer who have some postsecondary schooling but no four-year degree.

While many children of single mothers flourish (two of the last three presidents had mothers who were single during part of their childhood), a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.

Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist, warns that family structure increasingly consigns children to “diverging destinies.”

Married couples are having children later than they used to, divorcing less and investing heavily in parenting time. By contrast, a growing share of single mothers have never married, and many have children with more than one man.

“The people with more education tend to have stable family structures with committed, involved fathers,” Ms. McLanahan said. “The people with less education are more likely to have complex, unstable situations involving men who come and go.”

She said, “I think this process is creating greater gaps in these children’s life chances.”

Ms. Schairer’s life offers a vivid example of how rapidly norms have changed. She grew up in a small town outside Ann Arbor, where her life revolved around church and school and everyone she knew was married.

“I thought, ‘I’ll meet someone, and we’ll marry and have kids and the house and the white picket fence,’ ” she said. “That’s what I wanted. That’s what I still want.”

She got pregnant during her first year of college, left school and stayed in a troubled relationship that left her with three children when it finally collapsed six years ago. She has had little contact with the children’s father and receives no child support. With an annual income of just under $25,000, Ms. Schairer barely lifts her children out of poverty, but she is not one to complain. “I’m in this position because of decisions I made,” she said.

She buys generic cereal at about half the brand-name price, takes the children to church every week and posts their happy moments on her Facebook page. Inequality is a word she rarely uses, though her family life is a showcase of its broadening reach.

“Two incomes would certainly help with the bills,” she said. “But it’s parenting, too. I wish I could say, ‘Call your dad.’ ”

Path to Single Motherhood

The van with the cracked windshield arrived on a recent day at 7:30 a.m., and three people emerged, the smallest stifling yawns. Several days a week, Ms. Schairer opens the child care center 45 minutes before she can send her two youngest children to school. Bored children in work spaces make mornings tense.

Savannah, 7, crossed the play area on stilts. Steavon, 10, threw a ball. As parents with infants and toddlers hurried past, Ms. Schairer chided the two to stay out of the way. “They’re really not supposed to be here,” she said.

Steavon has Asperger syndrome, a mild form of autism that can lead to sharp mood swings. He slumped on her desk, wanting $2 to buy a bagel at school. Ms. Schairer does not carry cash — one way not to spend it — and handed him pretzels from home. “I don’t like those!” he said, shoving them away.

Ms. Schairer is known for a spotless desk. Steavon found a leaky pen.

“I’m ready for you to go,” she said.

Time away is money lost — Ms. Schairer punched a clock by the door — so she hurried the children to school and returned with a look of relief. A stop in Ms. Faulkner’s office brought a bit of rejuvenating gossip: two teachers were having a tiff. Adult diversions are absent at home.

“I talk to myself a lot,” Ms. Schairer said.

Although she grew up in the 1990s, Ms. Schairer’s small-town childhood had a 1950s feel. Her father drove a beer truck, her mother served as church trustee and her grandparents lived next door. She knew no one rich, no one poor and no one raising children outside of marriage. “It was just the way it was,” she said.

William Penn University, eight hours away in Iowa, offered a taste of independence and a spot on the basketball team. Her first thought when she got pregnant was “My mother’s going to kill me.” Abortion crossed her mind, but her boyfriend, an African-American student from Arkansas, said they should start a family. They agreed that marriage should wait until they could afford a big reception and a long gown.

Their odds were not particularly good: nearly half the unmarried parents living together at a child’s birth split up within five years, according to Child Trends.

Ms. Schairer has trouble explaining, even to herself, why she stayed so long with a man who she said earned little, berated her often and did no parenting. They lived with family (his and hers) and worked off and on while she hoped things would change. “I wanted him to love me,” she said. She was 25 when the breakup made it official: she was raising three children on her own.

She had just answered an ad from a child care center that needed a teacher’s assistant. Ms. Faulkner hired her and promoted her twice, most recently to assistant director.

“She was always stepping out of the classroom and helping,” Ms. Faulkner said. “She just had that drive, that leader in her. I trust her completely.”

Ms. Schairer took night classes and earned a degree from Washtenaw Community College. A supervisor from the corporate office wrote, “We are so lucky to have you.” Still, after nearly six years, she remains an hourly employee making $12.35 an hour, simultaneously in management and on food stamps.

After Ms. Schairer had an operation for cervical cancer last summer, the surgeon told her to take six weeks off. She went back to work five weeks early, with a rare flash of class anger. “It’s easy when you make $500 an hour to stand there and tell me to take six weeks off,” she said. “I can’t have six weeks with no pay.”

A Broadening Gap

Despite the egalitarian trappings of her youth, Ms. Schairer was born (in 1981) as a tidal surge of inequality was remaking American life. Incomes at the top soared, progress in the middle stalled and the paychecks of the poor fell sharply.

Four decades ago, households with children at the 90th percentile of incomes received five times as much as those at the 10th percentile, according to Bruce Western and Tracey Shollenberger of the Harvard sociology department. Now they have 10 times as much. The gaps have widened even more higher up the income scale.

The reasons are manifold: the growing premium a college education commands, technological change that favors mind over muscle, the growth of the financial sector, the loss of manufacturing jobs to automation and foreign competitors, and the decline of labor unions.

But marriage also shapes the story in complex ways. Economic woes speed marital decline, as women see fewer “marriageable men.” The opposite also holds true: marital decline compounds economic woes, since it leaves the needy to struggle alone.

“The people who need to stick together for economic reasons don’t,” said Christopher Jencks, a Harvard sociologist. “And the people who least need to stick together do.”

Changes in family structure do not explain the gains of the very rich — the much-discussed “1 percent” and the richest among them. That story largely spills from Wall Street trading floors and corporate boardrooms.

But for inequality more broadly, Mr. Western found that the growth in single parenthood in recent decades accounted for 15 percent to 25 percent of the widening income gaps. (Estimates depend on the time period, the income tiers and the definition of inequality.) Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution found it to account for 21 percent. Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute, comparing lower-middle- and upper-middle-income families, found that single parenthood explained about 40 percent of inequality’s growth. “That’s not peanuts,” he said.

Across Middle America, single motherhood has moved from an anomaly to a norm with head-turning speed. (That change received a burst of attention this year with the publication of Charles Murray’s new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” which attributed the decline of marriage to the erosion of values, rather than the decline of economic opportunity.)

As recently as 1990, just 10 percent of the births to women like Ms. Schairer (white women with some postsecondary schooling but not a full college degree) occurred outside marriage, according to Child Trends. Now it has tripled to 30 percent, compared with just 8 percent for women of all races with college degrees.

Less-educated women are also more likely to have children with more than one man. Analyzing nearly 2,000 mothers in their mid- to late 20s, Child Trends found that a third of those with high school degrees or less already had children with multiple men. So did 12 percent of mothers with some post-high-school training. But none of the women in the study who had finished college before giving birth had children with multiple men.

“That’s a dramatic difference, and it varies by education more than by race,” said Mindy Scott, a Child Trends demographer. “It tells you these families are on different trajectories. Having men in the house for a short time with ambiguous parenting roles can be really disruptive for children.”

Ms. Schairer did not have a child with another man, but she did find a new boyfriend, who she thought would help with the children and the bills. They dated for a year before he moved in. Kirsten, 11, and Savannah liked him fine, but Steavon adored him.

“I’m not the only boy anymore; we’re going to do boy stuff!” Ms. Schairer recounts him saying.

“What’s boy stuff?” she asked.

“We’re going to play video games and shoot Nerf guns and play Legos,” he said.

“We do that now,” she said.

“Yeah, but you’re not a boy,” he said.

The details of what followed are less important than the disappointment the boyfriend left behind. No Legos got built during his six-month stay, and it took a call to the police to get him to go. The children asked about him a few days later but have not mentioned him since.

Whether measured by Legos or marriage rates, the pattern is similar: the middle is shifting toward the bottom.

Forty years ago, the top and middle income thirds had virtually identical family patterns: more than 95 percent of households with children in either tier had two parents in the home. Since then the groups have diverged, according to Mr. Western and Ms. Shollenberger: 88 percent at the top have two parents, but just 71 percent do in the middle.

“Things remained extremely stable in the top third,” Mr. Western said. “The middle is increasingly suffering some of the same disadvantages as the bottom.”

That is the essence of the story of Ms. Faulkner and Ms. Schairer. What most separates them is not the impact of globalization on their wages but a 6-foot-8-inch man named Kevin.

School Trips and Scouting

Kevin Faulkner works the sunrise shift twice a week, leaving home at 5:30 a.m. for a computer programming job so he can leave work in time to take his sons to afternoon swim practice. Jeremy, 12, is serious and quiet. Justin, 10, is less driven but more openly affectionate. They arrived home recently to a note from Ms. Faulkner about the next day’s Boy Scout trip.

Thursday night:

Pack

Kevin — Pay Home Depot

Chris — Sort clothes

The couple’s life together has unfolded in to-do-list style. They did not inherit wealth or connections or rise on rare talent. They just did standard things in standard order: high school, college, job, marriage and children. “I don’t think I could have done it any more by the books,” Ms. Faulkner said.

The result is a three-bedroom house, two busy boys and an annual Disney cruise.

The secret to their success resides in part in old-fashioned math: strength in numbers. Together, the Faulkners earn nearly three times as much as what Ms. Faulkner earns alone. Their high five-figure income ranks them near the 75th percentile — hardly rich, but better off than nearly three of four families with children.

For Ms. Schairer, the logic works in reverse. Her individual income of $24,500 puts her at the 49th percentile among parents: smack in the middle. But with only one paycheck, her family income falls to the 19th percentile, lagging more than four out of five.

The Faulkners built a house in Livingston County because of the good schools. Ms. Schairer cares about education, too. But with Ann Arbor rents wreaking havoc on her budget, she is considering a move to a neighboring town where the school system lags. She shops at discount grocery stores and tells Savannah to keep away a friend who raids the cabinets.

“I feel bad, like maybe she’s not getting enough to eat,” Ms. Schairer said. “But sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to feed my own kids, never mind another.”

Jeremy Faulkner plays tennis and takes karate. Justin plays soccer and baseball. They both swim and participate in Boy Scouts, including a weeklong summer camp that brings the annual activities bill to about $3,500.

Boy Scouts has been especially important, offering the boys leadership opportunities and time with their father, who helps manage the troop and rarely misses a weekly meeting or monthly camping trip. Jeremy started as a shy boy terrified of public speaking. Now he leads the singalong and is racing to make Eagle Scout.

“He’s just blossomed through Boy Scouts,” Ms. Faulkner said. “I could do the scouting with them, because we have single moms who play that role. But they have different experiences with their dad. Kevin makes good money, but he’s an awesome dad.”

Ms. Schairer tells an opposite story: constraints in time and money limit her children to one sports season a year. That compounds Steavon’s isolation, she said, and reduces her chances to network on his behalf. When she invited his classmates to a park on his birthday a few months ago, no one came.

“He cried and cried and cried,” she said. “I tried the parents I had numbers for, but they didn’t respond.”

Researchers have found that extracurricular activities can enhance academic performance, and scholars cite a growing activities gap to help explain why affluent children tend to do so much better than others in school.

Four decades ago, families in the top income fifth spent about four times as much as those at the bottom fifth on things like sports, music and private schools, according to research by Greg J. Duncan of the University of California, Irvine, and Richard J. Murnane of Harvard. Now affluent families spend seven times as much.

Two parents also bring two parenting perspectives. Ms. Faulkner does bedtime talks. Mr. Faulkner does math. When Ms. Faulkner’s coaxing failed to persuade Jeremy to try hamburgers, Mr. Faulkner offered to jump in a pool fully clothed if he took a bite — an offer Jeremy found too tempting to refuse.

While many studies have found that children of single parents are more likely to grow up poor, less is known about their chances of advancement as adults. But there are suggestions that the absence of a father in the house makes it harder for children to climb the economic ladder.

Scott Winship of the Brookings Institution examined the class trajectories of 2,400 Americans now in their mid-20s. Among those raised in the poorest third as teenagers, 58 percent living with two parents moved up to a higher level as adults, compared with just 44 percent of those with an absent parent.

A parallel story played out at the top: just 15 percent of teenagers living with two parents fell to the bottom third, compared with 27 percent of teenagers without both parents.

“You’re more likely to rise out of the bottom if you live with two parents, and you’re less likely to fall out of the top,” Mr. Winship said.

Mr. Winship interprets his own results cautiously, warning that other differences (like race, education or parenting styles) may also separate the two groups. And even if marriage helped the people who got married, he warns, it might hurt other families if it tied them to troubled men.

“You get back to the question of how many marriageable men there are,” he said.

At the same time, scholars have found that marriage itself can have a motivating effect, pushing men to earn more than unmarried peers. Marriage, that is, can help make men marriageable.

As Mr. Faulkner tells it, something like that happened to him — he returned to college after an aimless hiatus because he wanted to marry Ms. Faulkner. “I knew I had to get serious about my life,” he said.

His experiences as a father so far suggest just how much there is to be said for simply showing up.

“Thank you for coming, Dad,” Justin wrote after a school trip. “I like it when you’re with me at every event and watching me do every activity.”

He added 16 exclamation points.

End of the Day

Left to do the showing up alone, Ms. Schairer makes big efforts. She rarely misses a weekend of church with the children, and she sacrificed a day’s pay this spring to chaperon field day at Steavon and Savannah’s school. “They were both saying, ‘This is my mom, my mom is here!’ ” she said.

In February, she received $7,000 of refundable tax credits, the low-wage worker’s annual bonus. She prepaid her rent for six months and bought plane tickets to Orlando, Fla. After years of seeing pictures of Ms. Faulkner’s vacations, she wanted to give her children one of their own.

“Do you think we’ll see Jesus?” Savannah asked on the flight. “I hope the plane doesn’t run him over.”

They stayed with Ms. Schairer’s brother, visited SeaWorld and Gatorland, and brought back happy memories. But the trip soon began to seem long ago, more a break from their life than an embodiment of it.

Ms. Schairer sank into the couch on a recent Friday night, looking weary, and half-watched a rerun of “Friends.” Steavon retreated to his room to watch “Superman” alone, and Savannah went out to play with the girl who always seems hungry. Kirsten was in her pajamas at 7 o’clock. They had few weekend plans.

Thirty miles away, Troop 395 was pitching tents beside a rural airstrip, where the next day the boys would take glider rides and earn aviation badges. The fields and barns looked as tidy as cartoons, and an extravagant sunset painted them pomegranate.

The clipboard in Justin Faulkner’s hands called for an early reveille. “I’m the patrol leader,” he said, beaming.

Thirty minutes later, a rope appeared. Boys started to boast. Mr. Faulkner snapped on his tug of war gloves, only to discover that Justin had disappeared. He found him sitting in the grass nearby, fighting back tears. “I want to go home,” Justin said.

Mr. Faulkner did not say much. Jeremy used to get homesick, too. Now he is halfway to Eagle Scout. After a while Mr. Faulkner asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to do a tug of war against me?”

Justin watched the other boys tumble. “When?” he said.

“We can do it right now,” Mr. Faulkner said.

It was not much of a contest for a man who outweighs his two sons combined by more than 100 pounds. Justin fell face first and bumped through the cool grass — a laughing tenderfoot pulled along by his dad.

Voir aussi:

Bookshelf

Values Inequality
« Coming Apart » argues that a large swath of America—poor and working-class whites—is turning away from traditional values and losing ground.
W. Bradford Wilcox

WSJ
January 31, 2012

So much for the idea that the white working class remains the guardian of core American values like religious faith, hard work and marriage. Today the denizens of upscale communities like McLean, Va., New Canaan, Conn., and Palo Alto, Calif., according to Charles Murray in « Coming Apart, » are now much more likely than their fellow citizens to embrace these core American values. In studying, as his subtitle has it, « the state of white America, 1960-2010, » Mr. Murray turns on its head the conservative belief that bicoastal elites are dissolute and ordinary Americans are virtuous.

Focusing on whites to avoid conflating race with class, Mr. Murray contends instead that a large swath of white America—poor and working-class whites, who make up approximately 30% of the white population—is turning away from the core values that have sustained the American experiment. At the same time, the top 20% of the white population has quietly been recovering its cultural moorings after a flirtation with the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, argues Mr. Murray in his elegiac book, the greatest source of inequality in America now is not economic; it is cultural.

He is particularly concerned with the ways in which working-class whites are losing touch with what he calls the four « founding virtues »—industriousness, honesty (including abiding by the law), marriage and religion, all of which have played a vital role in the life of the republic.

Consider what has happened with marriage. The destructive family revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s has gradually eased—at least in the nation’s most privileged precincts. In the past 20 years, divorce rates have come down, marital quality (self-reported happiness in marriage) has risen and nonmarital childbearing (out-of-wedlock births) is a rare occurrence among the white upper class. Marriage is not losing ground in America’s best neighborhoods.

But it’s a very different story in blue-collar America. Since the 1980s, divorce rates have risen, marital quality has fallen and nonmarital childbearing is skyrocketing among the white lower class. Less than 5% of white college-educated women have children outside of marriage, compared with approximately 40% of white women with just a high-school diploma. The bottom line is that a growing marriage divide now runs through the heart of white America.

Mr. Murray tells similar stories about crime, religion and work. Who would have guessed, for instance, that the white upper class is now much more likely to be found in church on any given Sunday than the white working class? Or that, just before the recession struck, white men in the 30-49 age bracket with a high-school diploma were about four times more likely to have simply stopped looking for work, compared with their college-educated peers? By Mr. Murray’s account, faith and industriousness are in increasingly short supply among working-class whites.

Mr. Murray’s sobering portrait is of a nation where millions of people are losing touch with the founding virtues that have long lent American lives purpose, direction and happiness. And his book shows that many of these findings are also applicable to poor and working-class African Americans and Latinos. Mr. Murray notes that « family, vocation, faith, and community » have a « direct and strong relationship to self-reported happiness. » Not surprisingly, he shows that since the 1970s happiness has plummeted in working-class and poor communities—but not in affluent communities.

The economic and political success of the American experiment has depended in large part on the health of these founding virtues. Businesses cannot flourish if ordinary workers are not industrious. The scope and cost of government grows, and liberty withers, when the family breaks down. As James Madison wrote: « To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea. »

There are at least two ways to close this cultural divide and renew the cultural foundations of the American experiment. First, policy makers and business leaders need to shore up the economic foundations of working- and middle-class life. Globalization has paid huge dividends for the upper class, but it has undercut the earnings and job security of men (and their families) lower down the social ladder. Public policies designed to strengthen the educational opportunities (e.g., better vocational programs) and economic security (portable health-care plans) of ordinary Americans could help in renewing the economic foundations of the nation’s virtues.

Second, as Mr. Murray notes, the members of the upper class must abandon the modern horror of being thought « judgmental »; instead, he says, they should « preach what they practice. » This does not mean turning the clock back to the 1950s or the Victorian age. It just means that the elites who control the heights of government, education, business and the popular culture could do a lot more to encourage the core American values that they themselves now live by.

Here the creative cultural class that dominates New York and Southern California bears a special responsibility. One can imagine producers chortling at the suggestion, but they should consider making movies, TV shows and music that support, rather than corrode, the kind of culture that these elites seek to pass on to their own children.

After all, the price of not bridging the cultural divide is to accept an America where the powerful and the privileged continue to (discreetly) embrace the values and the institutions that make possible the American way of life and where everyone else increasingly finds that way of life out of reach. It is a scenario where the end of the American experiment in ordered liberty would surely not be far behind.

Mr. Wilcox is director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the author of « When Marriage Disappears. »

Voir encore:

The New American Divide
The ideal of an ‘American way of life’ is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated. Charles Murray on what’s cleaving America, and why.
Charles Murray
January 21, 2012

America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. « The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people, » wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. « On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day. »

Americans love to see themselves this way. But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.

People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality.

When Americans used to brag about « the American way of life »—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions.

To illustrate just how wide the gap has grown between the new upper class and the new lower class, let me start with the broader upper-middle and working classes from which they are drawn, using two fictional neighborhoods that I hereby label Belmont (after an archetypal upper-middle-class suburb near Boston) and Fishtown (after a neighborhood in Philadelphia that has been home to the white working class since the Revolution).

To be assigned to Belmont, the people in the statistical nationwide databases on which I am drawing must have at least a bachelor’s degree and work as a manager, physician, attorney, engineer, architect, scientist, college professor or content producer in the media. To be assigned to Fishtown, they must have no academic degree higher than a high-school diploma. If they work, it must be in a blue-collar job, a low-skill service job such as cashier, or a low-skill white-collar job such as mail clerk or receptionist.

People who qualify for my Belmont constitute about 20% of the white population of the U.S., ages 30 to 49. People who qualify for my Fishtown constitute about 30% of the white population of the U.S., ages 30 to 49.

I specify white, meaning non-Latino white, as a way of clarifying how broad and deep the cultural divisions in the U.S. have become. Cultural inequality is not grounded in race or ethnicity. I specify ages 30 to 49—what I call prime-age adults—to make it clear that these trends are not explained by changes in the ages of marriage or retirement.

In Belmont and Fishtown, here’s what happened to America’s common culture between 1960 and 2010.

Marriage: In 1960, extremely high proportions of whites in both Belmont and Fishtown were married—94% in Belmont and 84% in Fishtown. In the 1970s, those percentages declined about equally in both places. Then came the great divergence. In Belmont, marriage stabilized during the mid-1980s, standing at 83% in 2010. In Fishtown, however, marriage continued to slide; as of 2010, a minority (just 48%) were married. The gap in marriage between Belmont and Fishtown grew to 35 percentage points, from just 10.

Single parenthood: Another aspect of marriage—the percentage of children born to unmarried women—showed just as great a divergence. Though politicians and media eminences are too frightened to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. On just about any measure of development you can think of, children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families. This unwelcome reality persists even after controlling for the income and education of the parents.

In 1960, just 2% of all white births were nonmarital. When we first started recording the education level of mothers in 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6% of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1% in 1970.

Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere. In Fishtown, the change has been drastic. (To avoid conflating this phenomenon with the latest recession, I use data collected in March 2008 as the end point for the trends.)
Fishtown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, stands in as a symbol of America’s white working class in Charles Murray’s new book. ENLARGE
Fishtown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, stands in as a symbol of America’s white working class in Charles Murray’s new book. Ryan Collerd for The Wall Street Journal

The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness in the working class is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are « out of the labor force. » That percentage went from a low of 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008. Twelve percent may not sound like much until you think about the men we’re talking about: in the prime of their working lives, their 30s and 40s, when, according to hallowed American tradition, every American man is working or looking for work. Almost one out of eight now aren’t. Meanwhile, not much has changed among males with college educations. Only 3% were out of the labor force in 2008.

There’s also been a notable change in the rates of less-than-full-time work. Of the men in Fishtown who had jobs, 10% worked fewer than 40 hours a week in 1960, a figure that grew to 20% by 2008. In Belmont, the number rose from 9% in 1960 to 12% in 2008.

Crime: The surge in crime that began in the mid-1960s and continued through the 1980s left Belmont almost untouched and ravaged Fishtown. From 1960 to 1995, the violent crime rate in Fishtown more than sextupled while remaining nearly flat in Belmont. The reductions in crime since the mid-1990s that have benefited the nation as a whole have been smaller in Fishtown, leaving it today with a violent crime rate that is still 4.7 times the 1960 rate.

Religiosity: Whatever your personal religious views, you need to realize that about half of American philanthropy, volunteering and associational memberships is directly church-related, and that religious Americans also account for much more nonreligious social capital than their secular neighbors. In that context, it is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown has become much more secular than Belmont. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.

For example, suppose we define « de facto secular » as someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 29% of Belmont and 38% of Fishtown fell into that category. Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, from 29% in the 1970s to 40% in the GSS surveys taken from 2006 to 2010. But it grew even more in Fishtown, from 38% to 59%.
***

It can be said without hyperbole that these divergences put Belmont and Fishtown into different cultures. But it’s not just the working class that’s moved; the upper middle class has pulled away in its own fashion, too.

If you were an executive living in Belmont in 1960, income inequality would have separated you from the construction worker in Fishtown, but remarkably little cultural inequality. You lived a more expensive life, but not a much different life. Your kitchen was bigger, but you didn’t use it to prepare yogurt and muesli for breakfast. Your television screen was bigger, but you and the construction worker watched a lot of the same shows (you didn’t have much choice). Your house might have had a den that the construction worker’s lacked, but it had no StairMaster or lap pool, nor any gadget to monitor your percentage of body fat. You both drank Bud, Miller, Schlitz or Pabst, and the phrase « boutique beer » never crossed your lips. You probably both smoked. If you didn’t, you did not glare contemptuously at people who did.

When you went on vacation, you both probably took the family to the seashore or on a fishing trip, and neither involved hotels with five stars. If you had ever vacationed outside the U.S. (and you probably hadn’t), it was a one-time trip to Europe, where you saw eight cities in 14 days—not one of the two or three trips abroad you now take every year for business, conferences or eco-vacations in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.

You both lived in neighborhoods where the majority of people had only high-school diplomas—and that might well have included you. The people around you who did have college degrees had almost invariably gotten them at state universities or small religious colleges mostly peopled by students who were the first generation of their families to attend college. Except in academia, investment banking, a few foundations, the CIA and the State Department, you were unlikely to run into a graduate of Harvard, Princeton or Yale.

Even the income inequality that separated you from the construction worker was likely to be new to your adulthood. The odds are good that your parents had been in the working class or middle class, that their income had not been much different from the construction worker’s, that they had lived in communities much like his, and that the texture of the construction worker’s life was recognizable to you from your own childhood.

Taken separately, the differences in lifestyle that now separate Belmont from Fishtown are not sinister, but those quirks of the upper-middle class that I mentioned—the yogurt and muesli and the rest—are part of a mosaic of distinctive practices that have developed in Belmont. These have to do with the food Belmonters eat, their drinking habits, the ages at which they marry and have children, the books they read (and their number), the television shows and movies they watch (and the hours spent on them), the humor they enjoy, the way they take care of their bodies, the way they decorate their homes, their leisure activities, their work environments and their child-raising practices. Together, they have engendered cultural separation.
Belmont, an archetypal suburb of Boston, stands in for the white upper middle class. ENLARGE
Belmont, an archetypal suburb of Boston, stands in for the white upper middle class. M. Scott Brauer for The Wall Street Journal

It gets worse. A subset of Belmont consists of those who have risen to the top of American society. They run the country, meaning that they are responsible for the films and television shows you watch, the news you see and read, the fortunes of the nation’s corporations and financial institutions, and the jurisprudence, legislation and regulations produced by government. They are the new upper class, even more detached from the lives of the great majority of Americans than the people of Belmont—not just socially but spatially as well. The members of this elite have increasingly sorted themselves into hyper-wealthy and hyper-elite ZIP Codes that I call the SuperZIPs.

In 1960, America already had the equivalent of SuperZIPs in the form of famously elite neighborhoods—places like the Upper East Side of New York, Philadelphia’s Main Line, the North Shore of Chicago and Beverly Hills. But despite their prestige, the people in them weren’t uniformly wealthy or even affluent. Across 14 of the most elite places to live in 1960, the median family income wasn’t close to affluence. It was just $84,000 (in today’s purchasing power). Only one in four adults in those elite communities had a college degree.

By 2000, that diversity had dwindled. Median family income had doubled, to $163,000 in the same elite ZIP Codes. The percentage of adults with B.A.s rose to 67% from 26%. And it’s not just that elite neighborhoods became more homogeneously affluent and highly educated—they also formed larger and larger clusters.

If you are invited to a dinner party by one of Washington’s power elite, the odds are high that you will be going to a home in Georgetown, the rest of Northwest D.C., Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac or McLean, comprising 13 adjacent ZIP Codes in all. If you rank all the ZIP Codes in the country on an index of education and income and group them by percentiles, you will find that 11 of these 13 D.C.-area ZIP Codes are in the 99th percentile and the other two in the 98th. Ten of them are in the top half of the 99th percentile.

Similarly large clusters of SuperZIPs can be found around New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco-San Jose corridor, Boston and a few of the nation’s other largest cities. Because running major institutions in this country usually means living near one of these cities, it works out that the nation’s power elite does in fact live in a world that is far more culturally rarefied and isolated than the world of the power elite in 1960.

And the isolation is only going to get worse. Increasingly, the people who run the country were born into that world. Unlike the typical member of the elite in 1960, they have never known anything but the new upper-class culture. We are now seeing more and more third-generation members of the elite. Not even their grandparents have been able to give them a window into life in the rest of America.
***

Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a « family wage » that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years.
Top 10 SuperZIPs

In ‘Coming Apart,’ Charles Murray identifies 882 ‘SuperZIPs,’ ZIP Codes where residents score in the 95th through the 99th percentile on a combined measure of income and education, based on the 2000 census. Here are the top-ranked areas:

1. 60043: Kenilworth, Ill. (Chicago’s North Shore)
2. 60022: Glencoe, Ill. (Chicago’s North Shore)
3. 07078: Short Hills, N.J. (New York metro area)
4. 94027: Atherton, Calif. (San Francisco-San Jose corridor)
5. 10514: Chappaqua, N.Y. (New York metro area)
6. 19035: Gladwyne, Pa. (Philadelphia’s Main Line)
7. 94028: Portola Valley, Calif. (S.F.-San Jose corridor)
8. 92067: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (San Diego suburbs)
9. 02493: Weston, Mass. (Boston suburbs)
10. 10577: Purchase, N.Y. (New York metro area)

As I’ve argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.

But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn’t especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that’s not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best.

Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference.

The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That « something » has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering.

The « something » that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending « nonjudgmentalism. » Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.

Changing life in the SuperZIPs requires that members of the new upper class rethink their priorities. Here are some propositions that might guide them: Life sequestered from anybody not like yourself tends to be self-limiting. Places to live in which the people around you have no problems that need cooperative solutions tend to be sterile. America outside the enclaves of the new upper class is still a wonderful place, filled with smart, interesting, entertaining people. If you’re not part of that America, you’ve stripped yourself of much of what makes being American special.

Such priorities can be expressed in any number of familiar decisions: the neighborhood where you buy your next home, the next school that you choose for your children, what you tell them about the value and virtues of physical labor and military service, whether you become an active member of a religious congregation (and what kind you choose) and whether you become involved in the life of your community at a more meaningful level than charity events.

Everyone in the new upper class has the monetary resources to make a wide variety of decisions that determine whether they engage themselves and their children in the rest of America or whether they isolate themselves from it. The only question is which they prefer to do.

That’s it? But where’s my five-point plan? We’re supposed to trust that large numbers of parents will spontaneously, voluntarily make the right choice for the country by making the right choice for themselves and their children?

Yes, we are, but I don’t think that’s naive. I see too many signs that the trends I’ve described are already worrying a lot of people. If enough Americans look unblinkingly at the nature of the problem, they’ll fix it. One family at a time. For their own sakes. That’s the American way.

—Mr. Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His new book, « Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 » (Crown Forum) will be published on Jan. 31.

Voir enfin:

Becoming European

Jonah Goldberg

NRO

November 9, 2012

The Progressives won on Tuesday.

I don’t mean the people who voted Democrat who call themselves “progressive.” Though they won, too.

I mean the Progressives who’ve been waging a century-long effort to transform our American-style government into a European-style state.

The words “government” and “state” are often used interchangeably, but they are really different things. According to the Founders’ vision, the people are sovereign and the government belongs to us. Under the European notion of the state, the people are creatures of the state, significant only as parts of the whole.

This European version of the state can be nice. One can live comfortably under it. Many decent and smart people sincerely believe this is the intellectually and morally superior way to organize society. And, to be fair, it’s not a binary thing. The line between the European and American models is blurry. France is not a Huxleyan dystopia, and America is not and has never been an anarchist’s utopia, nor do conservatives want it to be one.

The distinction between the two worldviews is mostly a disagreement over first assumptions about which institutions should take the lead in our lives. It is an argument about what the habits of the American heart should be. Should we live in a country where the first recourse is to appeal to the government, or should government interventions be reserved as a last resort?

These assumptions are formed and informed by political rhetoric. President Obama ran a campaign insisting that Democrats believe “we’re all in it together” and that Republicans think you should be “on your own” no matter what hardships you face. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ “keepers,” according to Obama, and the state is how we “keep” each other. The introductory video at the Democratic National Convention proclaimed, “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

Exactly 100 years before Barack Obama’s reelection victory, Woodrow Wilson was elected president for the first time. It was Wilson’s belief that the old American understanding of government needed to be Europeanized. The key to this transformation was convincing Americans that we all must “marry our interests to the state.”

The chief obstacle for this mission is the family. The family, rightly understood, is an autonomous source of meaning in our lives and the chief place where we sacrifice for, and cooperate with, others. It is also the foundation for local communities and social engagement. As social scientist Charles Murray likes to say, unmarried men rarely volunteer to coach kids’ soccer teams.

Progressivism always looked at the family with skepticism and occasionally hostility. Reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman hoped state-backed liberation of children would destroy “the unchecked tyranny . . . of the private home.” Wilson believed the point of education was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Hillary Clinton, who calls herself a modern progressive and not a liberal, once said we must move beyond the notion there is “any such thing as someone else’s child.”

One of the stark lessons of Obama’s victory is the degree to which the Republican party has become a party for the married and the religious. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you’d need a word that means something much bigger than landslide. Obviously, Obama got some votes from the married and the religious (such people can marry their interests to the state, too), but as a generalization, the Obama coalition heavily depends on people who do not see family or religion as rival or superior sources of material aid or moral authority.

Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married, though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.

Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that.

In the aftermath of massive American urbanization and industrialization, and in the teeth of a brutal economic downturn, Franklin D. Roosevelt promised to fight for the “forgotten man” — the American who felt lost amidst the social chaos of the age. Obama campaigned for “Julia” — the affluent single mom who had no family and no ostensible faith to fall back on.

In short, the American people are starting to look like Europeans, and as a result they want a European form of government.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Un commentaire pour Présidentielle américaine/2012: Le parti républicain est devenu le parti des mariés et des religieux (Do marriage and religion help you stay Republican and privileged?)

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion / Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion / Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :