Undead sexist cliches: There’s only one way for goverment to support marriage

David Brooks has stated, repeatedly, that the government’s top priority in the current economic crisis should be cutting the deficit by cutting Social Security (though taxes on the rich is also very important).
That makes it a little surprising that David Brooks actually favors increasing welfare—as a way to make it easier for guys to get married.
In an earlier January column, Brooks asserts that one of the things he likes about Rick Santorum is that Santorum understands that “If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.” I can’t find any reference to Santorum supporting such a thing, so maybe it’s just what Brooks imagines he’d say, but either way, Brooks clearly thinks it’s a fabulous idea.
It is true, as James Taranto notes, that poor guys are more likely to stay single than guys with more money. It doesn’t follow that therefore having more money will make them more marriageable. If a woman’s only objection to marrying a guy is that he doesn’t make enough to support her (or that combined, they couldn’t afford kids), maybe; but there are an awful lot of reasons people don’t get married and finance is only one of them.
The idea government should intervene to create traditional 1950s marriages has been around for a while. Back in the late 1980s IIRC, a writer arguing that we needed to boost the native American birthrate asserted that the government should start paying women to stay home with kids. Pat Robertson expressed a similar thought a couple of years later. Pat Buchanan has demanded white women stay home to boost the birthrate but didn’t suggest paying them extra.
Almost all these ideas seem to rest on the principle that what this country really needs is a return to 1950s nuclear family life. Man at work. Women at home raising babies. I see a whiff of that in Brooks’ argument too: There are a variety of ways the government could structure an aid program to support families but the one he focuses is on seems specifically designed to make men the breadwinners.
Alternative family structures are not on the table. Nobody has suggested (that I’m aware of) financial aid for men who stay home and raise the kids while the mother works. Nor are Brooks, Robertson or Buchanan advocating that government should make daycare more affordable or come up with other approaches that would make life easier for two-parent working families. A number of right-wingers actively decry programs of that sort because they run against traditional gender roles: A family where the mother works outside the home isn’t the right sort of family to deserve help. The only fit place for a woman is in the home.
I guess when Brooks discussed his love for Victorian morality, he wasn’t kidding.


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

6 responses to “Undead sexist cliches: There’s only one way for goverment to support marriage

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