Do you watch Tucker Carlson’s show on FOX News?
A few weeks ago, the popular television host offered a bold and pointed commentary on how the decline of marriage and family is driving the majority of the poverty in our nation. (You can watch and read the text here.)
He didn’t so much lay this decline at the feet of declining morals, but poor economic policies perpetuated over the last few decades by the growth of Big Government. His comments were based in strong facts and some of the best research on the matter.
It was one of the strongest speeches on the state of the family that I’ve heard in quite some time.
Moral decay is certainly a part of the problem, but Carlson’s absolutely correct in drawing our attention to the economic drivers of family decline. Morality and economics are not two different worlds as both influence one another in significant ways.
It comes down to this:
If young men cannot find gainful employment and land jobs that pay enough to start and build families, they’re much less likely to get married and have children. In turn, women are less inclined to link themselves for life to men who have so few real life-long career opportunities. Instead, they’re looking for what sociologists call “marriageable men.” Males on welfare are not attractive candidates.
As Tucker Carlson has suggested, and others like my friend Brad Wilcox from the University of Virginia, point out, research shows that women are not that interested in marrying men who earn less than they do. Most want their husband to be able to carry the bulk of the load of supporting a growing family. It’s true.
How were Tucker Carlson’s comments received?
Not surprisingly, he was attacked by many liberals. That’s because many of them believe the decline of families built upon natural marriage is a good thing and that the more “alternative families” we have in America, the better. Weak families allow for the justification of bigger government to pay for and offset poverty, unwanted pregnancy and much more. Others, like the antagonists over at ABC’s The View, likewise skewered the commentator, twisting what he said, accusing him of believing that women should not work or earn good incomes.
He didn’t say anything of the sort.
He just made the point that we should adopt economic policies that increase the likelihood that young men be able to find and hold a job that allows them to establish, provide for and grow a family. Men, women, children and society all win when this is the case.
Surprisingly, a few fellow conservatives, good thinkers whom I like very much, also jumped on the FOX host and took issue with his commentary. They didn’t like him saying that contemporary economics was a major player in the decline of the family. Some see such an approach as the more “liberal” explanation for family decline and in truth it often is.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean there is not some legitimacy to parts of the argument. Just as we should be willing to admit when conservative philosophy gets things wrong, we should also admit when a supposedly more “liberal” way of looking at things gets it right. I am unapologetically conservative, but it makes our case stronger when we can discern the good and bad arguments and policies of either side.
A little historical perspective may be helpful here. It was 54 years ago that a social scientist in President’s Johnson’s Administration, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, released an incredibly important report on the nature of the family, specifically the African-American family. It became known by sociologists and political scientists as “The Moynihan Report,” and it was strongly pro-family.
This document actually started the contemporary culture war on the family. It didn’t begin with the Right in the late 1970s as most assume. Moynihan said that unwise economic policies were driving much of the dramatic decline of the Black family in America, and unless we changed them, the African-American community would never achieve the part of the American Dream that they deserved.
Senator Moynihan was immediately demonized by many in the media.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like much has changed since then. Standing up for the family in a strong voice puts a target on your back.
I, and Focus on the Family, congratulate Tucker Carlson for addressing this topic so articulately, smartly and passionately. The family gets so little defense in the major media and culture today. It’s essential we show great appreciation and support to those who do so and encourage them to continue speaking important, even unpopular, truths