We now live in a time where social welfare incentives have engendered unprecedented numbers of unmarried parents, causing record deficits. The inability to address this issue has politically-hobbled every Republican president since Reagan. Our government needs to take responsibility for creating this monster and start on a new path of adopting policies that are good for families.
The “marriage gap” carnage of 2012’s election forces us to confront the reasons for accelerating cultural decline since the days of Reagan. President Reagan had no pro-marriage social policy in his toolbox to counter liberal welfare and no-fault divorce.
In politics, showing up without strong social policy is the equivalent of playing in the Super Bowl with no offensive strategy. Reagan understood conservatism and personal responsibility, but could not find the policy to safeguard the foundation of economic stability— the home.
The “gender-gap” was not significant until Ronald Reagan ran for president. Reagan opposed socialism and welfarism on principle, but won because married voters formed a strong base. Conservatives are now dying off and failing to pass the baton to the next generation.
Since 1976, illegitimacy has grown from 15 to 41 percent. Social welfare expenditures are now the largest line item in the federal budget, weighing in at over $1.1 trillion in 2011. Means-tested welfare spending amounts to $168 per day per welfare household (including administrative costs), awarded specifically for not marrying!
Cohabitational welfare fraud is the new norm. Instead of marrying, parents cohabit so they can file taxes separately with the mother qualifying for extra family income. These financial expenditures are horrible for the taxpayers, and they don’t even attempt to measure the misery index on those who are left with broken shards.
The results are exactly what supply-side economics predicts. Reagan’s “gender gap” vote grew into today’s controlling marriage-gap vote. Those who followed Reagan failed to develop an attractive social policy. This caused the losses of John McCain, Mitt Romney, the failure to win the Senate in 2012, and ushered in Obamacare.
Fox News’ Chris Stewart foresaw the 2012 loss: “The most dangerous demographic trend for Republicans isn’t the approaching “minority majority” or the slowing of the growth of America’s exurbs. It’s the decline of marriage rates.”
How federal social policy reshaped culture
Today, the average woman is financially better off becoming a single mother earning $29,000 annually and taking welfare (slide 8) than she is marrying, having an income of $69,000 and joining the taxpaying middle class. Welfarism sees children as “income producing assets”. Approximately 30 percent of Americans receive long-term means-tested benefits for not marrying.
The trend is now serious. William J. Bennett believes conservatives lost the culture war. Mytheos Holt declared the Reagan Coalition “dead.” We are watching middle-class America transform into a largely-unmarried, troubled electorate. Instead of running away from “social issues”, the Republican Party would do well to adopt an honest marriage socioeconomic policy as the cornerstone of their platform.
Federal policies are destroying marriage and have been reshaping our culture for decades. Abortion, rape, homosexuality, poverty, national healthcare, and deficits are symptoms of our failure to embrace pro-marriage policies.
The days of moralizing about single mothers and threatening massive budget cuts are also over. Can anyone blame single mothers and their boyfriends for doing what federal policy strongly encourages them to do? Can anyone blame them for voting for the candidate who offers to bring them the most generous gravy train?
Taking the lead on social policy
Republicans must take the lead on core social issues. We must replace “Welfare to Work” with “Welfare to Success”. It’s time to migrate millions of unhappy poor from the transient shack of cohabitation to the happiness and stability of marriage.
Most of the “marriage gap” Obama voters desire to lead reasonably good, self-directed lives in reasonably safe neighborhoods. Marriage socioeconomic policy promises much better lives for unmarried individuals.
Marriage-gap voters will not let go of subsidies until Republicans offer them safer, happier lives. Supply-side economics applied to social policy can help people live far happier lives. Methods and metrics used to measure the economy must be applied to measure success of public assistance programs and their impact on marriage.
The “three-legged stool” will keep falling over so long as social conservatives have to beg for a seat at the Republican Party table. Phyllis Schlafly correctly pointed out that Republicans must be “the party of family, good jobs, and superior weaponry that keeps America safe without war.”
The “10 Marriage Economic Policies” by the Center for Marriage Policy are the road map to restoring America’s social and economic
Infrastructure. The Republican Party must either take the marriage- policy high road or get used to Democrat domination in Washington and liberal states for the foreseeable future.