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.