Mike Polioudakis, from “Democrats and Republicans”, Part 2
# PART 2: THE FAMILY IN POLITICS
If you skip this material, you might not understand later references to family, and might have to come back. This material is detailed, tedious, and long so as not to fall into some common mistakes.
I use the family here to get across the idea of client politics. Family is one of the biggest issues in 2018 in America. When one political party tires to hurt the other party badly, to call “bad to the core”, it says the other party hurts families. Family relates closely to class and to social groups such as ethnic groups and single parents. Maybe Republicans and Democrats care about families and would do what they could if they knew what was best. They don’t know what is best so instead both Parties use family and family values as propaganda to recruit, hold, and use clients. That practice harms families in the long run even when it seems to help in the short run. I dislike seeing the family abused for politics and dislike the twisted idea of a Conservative that is part of Republicans using the family for politics.
I do not discuss some issues such as divorce and abortion that would be useful here but take up too much space. If you want practice thinking through patron and client relations in terms of family and family values, those issues make good material.
I get at the family in politics by looking at attitudes toward nuclear families and alternative families. I repeat the comments in this synopsis at the end of this Part.
Really (a) the fight over what are the only true family values, (b) the fight over which families are the only true representatives of the only true family values, (c) claims that our side has true families while the other side has only artificial families and bad families, (d) accusations that the other side does not have real family values, (e) accusations that the values, acts, families, and social groups, of the other side, hurt the state, (f) use of the state to promote our values and our families, and (g) use of the state to discredit their values and harm their families, are all (h) fights over how to get and hold clients so as to get and hold power.
Republican clients tend to live in nuclear families while many families of Democratic clients live in what are now called “alternative” families. The Parties use this difference in their fight for clients and power.
Republicans wish as clients the people who can afford to live in TV-like nuclear families such as secure working class and middle class Whites, East Asians, South Asians, and some Hispanics. Republicans help their clients through tax breaks, services such as police protection, and support of schools. Republicans help the families of their clients live close to the idealized nuclear family and then extol what they help to create and what they support. Republicans hurt families that can’t afford to live like idealized nuclear families by labeling them as bad, through sales taxes that fall on them much harder, withholding support and services, and with the police and the courts. Republicans hurt rivals of their clients so rivals cannot compete with Republican clients.
Democrats give a moral rationale to people who often cannot live in TV-style nuclear families, and have to live in alternative families, or who wish to live in alternative families, such as many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. Democrats say all those families are healthy adaptations to economic hardship and prejudice. Democrats support alternative families and the groups of which they are a part through entitlements, grants, tax break, school funding, low-cost legal advice, and etc. Democrats assure their clients that Republican-style nuclear families-and-people won’t get favored treatment, and Democratic clients will be able to gain more wealth and status someday. Yet the Democratic stance wrongly calls all people and families good, including especially alternative families. It does not identify bad people and bad families. It does not recognize the force of persistent bad attitudes. It does not say how we can channel limited resources to good people and good families. It does not say how we might correct bad people and bad families. It is blind where, to do the most good, it should see. The Democratic stance thus enables bad people and bad families. Because of its overly optimistic blindness, the Democratic program likely does not do enough good to justify the direct and indirect costs. Bad people and bad families give a bad name to the social groups in which many of them occur, such as ethnic groups and single parents. The Democratic stance aids backlash against groups and aids prejudice. Enabling of bad people, bad families, and group stereotypes adds punch to otherwise weak Republican claims against poor people and some social groups.
Any family values that most Americans would like to know about have little to do with the political fight even if the political fight is carried out in terms of family values.
# Nuclear and Alternative Families, and their Social Groups, in Politics.
-At least since the 1950s, likely since the 1920s, Americans have returned to a religion of the family. The family that Americans have in mind is not like most real human families in most times and places. It is not like the real families that have made up America during most of its history. See later parts of this essay on history.
-Real families are compared to an unreal idealized nuclear family. Republicans pretend they live up to the ideal when they do not. Republicans claim Democrats and their clients do not live up to the ideal, attack the ideal, attack all families, and so attack family values. Democrats and their clients don’t know how to protect themselves from this attack because they don’t know what is going on with families in general, their own families, or families in client (ethnic) groups. They won’t admit that many families in among their clients are bad enough to spoil programs, and won’t admit they don’t know how to sort good families from bad families so as to save programs. They can’t be too explicit about what is going on because it would require admitting failures and losing clients.
People who live in families other than the unreal ideal don’t know how to present their kinds of families as healthy and reasonable when their families are, and they don’t know how to accept that their families are unhealthy and unreasonable when their families are that – and, yes, sometimes their families are unhealthy and unreasonable. They deny any families in their group have problems even when a blind person could see they do. They deny that enough families in their group have enough problems so as to spoil programs. They cannot, and will not, sort good families from bad families so as to save programs and so help their group, programs, the Democratic Party, and the nation. Their patrons, Democratic Liberals, enable all this unrealistic denial.
-There is no standard American family because families in America varied in time and place in response to circumstances, social class, and ethnic group. Even so, I go out on a limb to say the American family until 1920 was like this: at least three generations living in the same house or apartment, often four generations together, the dwelling was small, children got an education only through eighth grade, girls got less, many younger children did not marry, especially girls did not marry because they could not get a job with enough wages to support themselves and so offer enough value to prospective husbands, those girls stayed at home to take care of aged parents or stayed with a married sibling to take care of nieces and nephews, parents were involved in their children’s marriages, there was little dating, people started working in their teens, often a young worker – in a factory or professional job – had to serve a long apprenticeship before he (almost always a boy) saved enough to marry, and yet families had six or ten children, of which half died. I don’t explain how this pattern changed in response to circumstances. I like that it did change.
-The idealized family is like “Leave it to Beaver” or “The Donna Reed Show” from old TV. I have nothing against that family. I wish I had lived in that family. In many ways, it is best. I like that both parents were good role models. I like that it is not rigidly authoritarian, old-fashioned, or too permissive. The man could be compassionate and the woman stern. It would be clearly a very good option if all family members got good jobs, they stayed in touch (didn’t move far away), and helped care for grandparents and parents when those people got old. It is a good style for families when all school districts around the families provide a good enough education.
If America had maintained the prosperity of the 1940s to 1970, then most families eventually would have had a fair chance to live like that. We would not look down on families that did not live exactly like the ideal, such as when an old grandparent stayed or when an unemployed sibling stayed. But America did not have that much prosperity before 1950 and has not had that much prosperity since 1975. Most families in American history have not been like this ideal. Even now, while America is still prosperous, if most American families are similar to the ideal, it is not a large majority.
(To be exact: America still has a lot of material wealth, enough, but people must compete for family security in such a way that they are not comfortable sharing, so the prosperity is not shared enough to allow almost every family to live as it wishes. This change is not a horrible plot by anybody but results from how world capitalism works and how politics works.)
Yet this idealized family remains. Families that do not live up to this standard are suspect. If they don’t live up to this ideal, their morals are bad. If they can’t live up because they are not wealthy enough, then they are bad managers, bad providers, and their integrity and character, are suspect.
-Alternative families are what we also call blended, mixed, single parent, multi-generational, woman centered or woman focused, and non-traditional. They include families where the heads of household are a gay couple. If families with multiple spouses were legal, as a man with many wives or a woman with many husbands, or many men and women together, alternative families would include those. They include siblings, usually sisters, living together with children. They include multiple generations living together; usually an older woman with her daughters and their children, the grandchildren of the older woman; and sometimes with her granddaughters and their children, the great grandchildren of the older woman. Sometimes the daughters or granddaughters live, play, and look for a man elsewhere while the older resident woman cares for their children. Alternative families often are focused around women and do not have a standard male head of household as in the idealized families. Often the men in them are marginally employed at best, sometimes because they can’t get work, sometimes because they have given up trying, and sometimes because they don’t really want regular jobs. Now, alternative families include adult single children living at home, even well-educated adult children, especially if the adult children cannot find a job and-or are handicapped. Nowadays, alternative families include adult children staying on at home (“Mom’s basement”) because the adult children can find only a bad job. Sometimes alternative families include people and their children, usually women and their children, who are friends of the genetic kin that form the core of the family. Not everybody in an alternative family has to be closely genetically related for members to see themselves as one kin and one family. Resident friends are treated as siblings, nieces, and nephews.
“Alternative” is not a good term because it suggests something deviated away from an ideal. I explicitly deny I mean that. But there is no better simple term that most people recognize.
Sometimes families of kin live close to each other, sometimes in different houses on the same block. Usually the families are related through a mother and several sisters but sometimes through parents and several brothers. You see this pattern in movies about Irish people and you can see it in the movie “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and the movie “Mystic River”. One sibling has the parents live in his-her home, a home that might have been inherited from the parents. All adult siblings should give money to care for parents and sometimes give effort to direct care. All households share child care and sometimes share big batches of cooking. Family holidays and barbecues are expected. Often each household sees itself as more like the “Leave it to Beaver” ideal than like an alternative family, especially if alternative families are seen as low or as typical of stigmatized ethnic groups. Sometimes rich families follow a similar pattern but with bigger buildings and more land. Sometimes Asian families in Asia and America follow a similar pattern. I leave it to the reader to decide what pattern this kind of family falls in and if this family is typical of any classes or social groups.
A fair share of people with good jobs can live close enough to the idealized nuclear family so they claim to live up to the ideal even when they don’t live up fully. They might have an elderly parent living with them or have an adult relative who is looking for a job. Mostly these people in near-ideal families are Whites, Asians, some Hispanics, some Blacks, and some successful immigrants such as from South Asia and East Asia. See the TV shows “Fresh off the Boat” and “Blackish”. A variation was in the TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, in which the family did see itself as nuclear ideal. People can accept the family in “Fresh Prince” as a variation of the nuclear family, a variation that does not change its essential character as a nuclear family and that still leaves the family good. But much more change than this much, and people see the family as an alternative family and in danger of being bad. Even the parents in Fresh Prince were worried that Will Smith would exert a bad influence on their children and would hurt their social standing.
As with everything biological and social, the lines are fuzzy, but still it makes sense to divide between the nuclear family versus alternative families, so I accept the division.
Since about 1980, people who see themselves as living close to the ideal family have tended to be in the Republican Party and to loudly support the Republican version of “family values”. They use the idealized unreal nuclear family as a weapon in their fight against their socio-economic class rivals and social group rivals. They stigmatize the alternative family and say it is part of life in other groups, the bad groups in America. At the same time, Democrats and their clients claim the alternative family is good. That is why I had to be so careful here.
-Some people with good jobs, a lot of people with bad jobs, and most unemployed people, cannot live in the idealized unreal nuclear family and so they live in alternative families or alone. These people include poor Whites, former working class Whites that now have only bad jobs, a fair number of Hispanics, and many Blacks. Economic problems alone might not force them to live in alternative families, other forces can contribute such as the culture of their social group, but economic problems push that way. I do not here untangle what causes what how much. These people tend to belong to the Democratic Party so as to get benefits from the Party and to get ideological support for their families and lifestyles. They are used as an ideological and political tool against Republicans. They support their version of family values but see family values as embodied more in love, commitment, and support than as embodied in who does or does not live in the same house or live nearby.
People live in nuclear families or alternative families for many reasons, including personal preferences, culture (attitudes) of their social group, attitudes that run in families, and outside forces such as from jobs and the attitudes of other groups. For here, the two biggest forces to consider are (1) the attitudes of the most important social group, such as an ethnic group, such as Blacks or Whites, and (2) outside forces such as jobs and prejudice, but mostly jobs.
I comment on good and bad families below. Imagine an area with good and bad nuclear families and good and bad alternative families. The people in nuclear families praise alternative families, even bad alternative families. They do so because: (1) Members of the nuclear families grew up in a big family which is now called an alternative family, that family was good for them, they have fond memories, and not to support alternative families would be like insulting ancestors. (2) They know they might have to live with kin or friends in case parents in the nuclear-like family get sick or hurt. They might have to go join whoever will have them. In that case, they will be living in an alternative family. They don’t want to denigrate what they might have to live like, and they don’t want to denigrate the people that they might need. (3) Their own kin and friends face hardship and might have to come live with them. The same explanation applies. (4) The group as a whole accepts and values alternatives families, often for reasons just given, and the members of nuclear families go along with their group, a normal response. (5) The members of nuclear families tend to see good alternative families as really good, and tend to see even bad alternative families as not really that bad. Their perception is shaped by their potential needs, and their perception then guides their assessment and their politics.
These reasons apply more to people in groups that are likely to face economic hardship such as Whites who have lost their jobs, and many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. They apply less to people in groups in which nuclear-like families are fairly secure as with people whose ancestors immigrated a long time ago, and Whites, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics with secure jobs with benefits. The people with secure jobs tend to see the reasons above as excuses and tend to see as threats the people who are in alternative families or who might move to an alternative family. It is easy to see that Democrats recruit the people who value alternative families while Republicans recruit people who value nuclear-like families and who fear or disdain alternative families.
It is not clear how much people live in alternative families because they like that style or because they are forced to live that way because of: divorce, death, imprisonment of a spouse, losing jobs, having only poor jobs, spouse abuse, desertion, crime, violence, financial problems, financial problems due to bad health and accident, and bad attitudes.
As a guess, most people in modern economies would choose to live in something closer to “Beaver”, maybe with grandparents and siblings nearby, if they had a choice, rather than live in a big family with many annoying people in a small house. Don’t take this preference to say which family is more natural or better.
Sometimes single parents live as single parents because they prefer it. Sometimes single parents live as single parents because it is better than living with the old spouse, and the single parent can’t get a new spouse that is better than living alone with the kids. Often single parents have a good attitude and do manage to raise good kids with good attitudes.
Rather than wrangle over why people live in nuclear or alternative families and whether family lifestyle naturally coincides with any particular political party, socio-economic class, or ethnic group, I accept that people live in both nuclear families and alternative families, and that the major causes are the attitudes of their group and outside pressures, chiefly jobs but also outside prejudice. I note that some kinds of families and political parties are associated, and I use the information when useful without going too far into the matter.
-Individuals are good or bad. The lines are fuzzy, but it is important to decide sometimes that Joe is bad while Frank is good, so I accept this division. Similarly families can be good or bad. Families can be bad because they have one bad member, a few bad members, because of attitudes typical of the group that they belong to, styles that run along family lines, and they face outside forces such as bad jobs and prejudice. As with individuals, the lines are fuzzy but I accept the division. Nuclear families can be good or bad. Alternative families can be good and bad. It is important to accept that alternative families can be good or bad, so I recommend pausing to think about this fact.
Alternative families are good when people help each other, especially to get a good education with real content, learn good values, have a good character, get better jobs, and overcome legal issues and health issues. Alternative families are good when they don’t make problems for the neighbors or community, and better when they actually help. A lot of people, even with good jobs and big savings, are happy to have grandparents live with them and are happy to take in a nephew or niece until the young person gets a better job. A lot of grandparents are willing to take in the grandkids, hopefully only until their mother gets a solid job but longer if need be. Many parents are happy to take in a sister or brother and his-her spouse and children until the brother or sister gets a solid job, hopefully not long, but for at least a few months if need be. A lot of people grew up in big families and like having many kin around. Sometimes you can’t get the extra kin out of the house, and then relations turn strained, but then that family is not necessarily good anymore.
When people in alternative families do succeed in a modern capitalist economy, they often aim toward budding off into small families of their own that are like the “Beaver” ideal. This choice does not mean that the only natural and best family is the nuclear family. It does not mean that all other families are variations away from the only natural and best nuclear family. It does not mean that other families are bad deviations away from the only natural and best nuclear family, and that other families can be seen in terms of how deviant and how bad they are. The fact that often people prefer nuclear families can be used to understand why families tend to certain forms under certain conditions. These facts could help us to see which families are better or worse if we had good criteria for better or worse. Only if you have studied human family and society under various conditions could you make much of all this. In this essay, I note that people do often like nuclear families but I do not make much of the fact. We should not use it alone to prove anything.
Alternative families are bad when they perpetuate bad attitudes such as: chronic lying, resorting to a lie to get out of any situation, violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, stealing, crime, arguing in the family, arguing with neighbors, promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, gangs, bad education, no appreciation for good education, no respect for law and the rule of law, no appreciation for community, no understanding of self-government, no sense of general responsibility, no sense of other people as persons, no feeling for general decency, and expecting the state to do it for you as with welfare and with tending the quality of local schools. The causal relation works both ways. Bad families cause problems and problems cause bad families. Problems, bad attitudes, bad families, bad areas, and bad schools, all cause each other. Once mutual causation gets going, it is hard to stop. A lot of people in alternative families have bad attitudes, and their attitudes cause their bad lives to a big extent, more than external factors cause their bad attitude and bad lives. We can honestly say there are bad families, and bad families cause problems for themselves and for others. We can honestly say there are bad families not caused by stress even if stress makes badness worse. We can say this without the source being prejudice. You should pause to accept this fact. It is easier for good families to go bad than for bad families to go good. Once families go bad, for any reasons, they tend to stay bad.
The usual state programs, carried out to their usual limited extent, are not enough to change enough bad families to good families in enough areas and in enough client groups. Pause to consider this fact. If programs were carried out to a greater extent, if more help were given, programs would change a few more bad families to good families but even then programs would not change all bad families to good families and likely still would not change enough bad families to good families. I can guess what it would take but there is no point guessing here. We wouldn’t do it anyway, whether Democrats or Republicans had absolute power.
If all people in all bad families had good enough jobs, would that change enough bad families to good families? Or would family character and group attitudes still enable too many bad families for too long? I don’t know. Because enough people from bad families are not likely to get good jobs in the near future, this question is theoretically interesting but practically null. As a guess, if everybody had a good enough job, still bad family style and bad group attitudes would continue in bad families and bad groups for many generations. It is hard to stop lying automatically when you have done that all your life. Eventually bad families and bad groups would have fewer bad members, and there would be fewer bad families and bad groups, but the shift might take a hundred years. If all prejudice were to end (and thus many people from stigmatized groups got good jobs), would that change enough bad families to good families? Or would family character and group attitudes still enable too many bad families? By “end prejudice” I mean not only of White men against everybody but of all groups against all other groups; Blacks have to stop despising Whites and Hispanics, and vice versa, and women have to stop blaming men. I give the same answer. So I continue here as if all the forces will remain in play in the near future. Likely, it is easier and less expensive to save a few good families out of bad groups, and to give up on bad families and bad groups, than to get everybody in all groups a good job and-or to end prejudice and discrimination enough. If you don’t want to give up on everybody then you will lose many people that you could have saved otherwise, and I wish you luck.
The following features used to be considered automatic infallible signs of a bad family, especially a bad alternative family, but the traits are ambiguous now: single parents for any reason other than death of one spouse; divorce, especially if due to the wife; female head of household except when her husband has died; multiple spouses; multiple children by multiple spouses; a resident unmarried adult child except an older daughter taking care of the parents; arrest for any crime; conviction for any crime; any resident ever having been in jail; alcohol abuse; drug abuse; visits by the police; noise, especially late at night; screaming fights in the yard of parking lot; hooliganism; noisy parties; not going to church or a similar institution; suspicion of stealing in the neighborhood; children get in trouble at school; unrelated people staying in the house; slutty dress; extravagant dress; obvious living beyond the family means; ostentation; too many cars parked around the house; cars parked on the yard; and cars parked so they block neighbors.
The same family characteristic can be practical for the family in the short run but bad for the family in the long run and bad for the community. Modern TV and movies about dysfunctional families play with this theme. A fun example is the brawling Irish families in movies before about 1960, before PC. The TV shows “Animal Kingdom” and “Sons of Anarchy” show family togetherness makes for success in crime but it also makes for bad people and a cancer on society. When a family contributes to the church but only the church, this pattern teaches both togetherness and exclusion, exclusion first of the family to everyone else, then of the church to everyone else, then of the ethnic group to all other ethnic groups. Eventually, to be good, the family and church have to get beyond that kind of exclusion. You have to make up your mind about which traits that lead to apparent success for the family in the short run also eventually lead to bad results for society and so are bad traits.
The same family can make both good and bad people. It can protect grandchildren from neglectful and abusive parents when grandchildren go to live with the grandmother and aunts. The grandmother tries to teach the grandchildren responsibility, respect, hard work, and going to church. The same family also raises girls who accept getting pregnant as teens and dropping out of school, accept having children by many different men, use their sexuality primarily as a way to attract men, and expect to use their female kin as safety valves. The same family teaches young men it is safe to prey on young women, and does not teach what it means to be a modest responsible man. The same family can teach going to church every Sunday but to hate all people of other ethnic groups and in other neighborhoods.
I cannot untangle all this here, so I simply rest with a division between good alternative families and bad alternative families. I overlook the confusing middle. That is how the nearly ideal nuclear family and the alternative family are used in politics: (1) Nuclear families are mostly good while alternative families are mostly bad. (2) Our families are good whether nearly ideal nuclear or alternative while all their families are bad whether they are nearly ideal nuclear or alternative.
-Between nuclear families and alternative families, it is not clear if alternative families more likely make bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups. I really don’t know. In other writing, I would say the issue is an empirical question: we have to look and see. Here the answer is not as important as the stance that people take. Some people say alternative families are just as good as nuclear families and do not make more bad people etc. while some people say alternative families are more likely to make bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups.
Suppose an alternative family is bad. It is not clear that bad alternative families more likely make more bad people etc. than do nuclear families or good alternative families, but probably. Child abuse makes child abusers, children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce, children of alcoholics more likely abuse alcohol, children of violent parents are more likely to hit, and so on. There are more likely to be bad people in bad alternative families. Bad alternative families tend to make bad alternative families for quite a while. If the family is superficially successful by being bad, then it makes more than one copy of itself each generation.
Here you need to be honest with yourself. Think of the “trash” families in your group, ethnic, social, or anywise. Don’t many bad families come from alternative families or are offshoots? Do you really think they are alright? Don’t they cause trouble for many people, not just in the family but in the area? Don’t they give your neighborhood and your group a bad name? If you could, wouldn’t you move out of an area with many bad alternative families to an area with very few? If you cannot move from an area with many bad alternative families, don’t you feel trapped, angry, and more likely to lash out yourself? Isn’t getting out of the ghetto more about escaping bad families than escaping prejudice? Don’t you think other people see this and are afraid? Don’t you think other people are like you?
When people see both good and bad in a family, especially an alternative family, they can’t afford to be subtle about the situation, they have to decide “good” or “bad”, one way or the other, no middle, about the whole family as one unit. Rationally for their own safety and the safety of children, people seeing mixed acts by an alternative family are more likely to say “bad”. Better safe than sorry. Nearly all Democrats who in theory want to think the best of people, in real life when it comes to the safety and character of their own children, take this attitude without thinking twice. To avoid all the bad families that people see around them is one reason why people wish to leave ghettos. Think how to keep the good and get rid of the bad, and how to make public judgments work better for everybody. It is hard.
So, fair or unfair, people in general are likely to think that alternative families are more often bad than nuclear families, and people are likely to think that bad alternative families are more likely to make more bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups than nuclear families. People come to this conclusion whether they think alternative families are bad due to forces within the family such as bad attitudes or due to external forces such as bad jobs and prejudice.
-Alternative families tend to run in particular social groups, such as ethnic groups, such as Blacks from the Caribbean. For example, Caribbean Blacks tend to have female-centered or female-headed families. It is not clear if running in a social-or-ethnic group is because the cultures of groups support alternative families (Black culture favors women heads) or outside pressures such as job hardship and prejudice lead to alternative families, or both. It is not clear if alternative families, once established, tend to run in the group even when outside pressures are taken away, such as when children in a Black family get good middle class or upper middle class jobs. Likely once a cultural disposition (attitude) toward features of alternative families gets going in a group it tends to continue in the group although external pressures are removed, such as female headed families, multiple children by multiple partners, teenage mothers, and tolerance of divorce.
-It is not clear if the alternative families that run in social groups, such as ethnic groups, are more likely to be good or bad in some groups more than others. Just because alternative families run in an ethnic group we should not assume that bad alternative families make up the whole group or good alternative families make up the whole group. It is not clear if the alternative families in that group are good or bad due to attitudes typical of the group or because of outside pressure such as bad jobs and prejudice. If attitudes are bad now, it is not clear if attitudes change when the family does better economically. If you think that alternative families are more likely bad than good, or that more alternative families than nuclear families are bad than good, you imply bad families are more likely to run in social groups, such as ethnic groups, that have a lot of alternative families.
Reminder: Not all families that look like the idealized nuclear family and should have a good attitude are good families, as so much of women’s TV reminds us. Evil at the heart of even apparently good families has been a staple of Western literature, especially melodrama, at least since Ibsen, and it is the mainstay of most soap operas and detective stories. And, of course, not all families that try to look like the idealized nuclear family are really a small nest of monsters. Some of them are decent people trying to get by in a hard world.
Because culture is real, families differ because of group attitudes, differences persist, and differences matter in the economy and in politics. Because culture and ethnicity are real, families differ between ethnic groups, differences persist, and ethnic groups and their families matter in the economy and in politics. We can deny culture (attitude) exist s, deny ethnic groups have distinct cultures, deny culture and ethnicity are relevant to family life, or deny culture-ethnicity and family life are relevant to economy and to politics, but we are foolish and shortsighted to do so. If you are serious about knowing the use of the family in politics and the relations of family to the economy, then you have to pay some attention to culture and ethnicity. You have to pay attention to misuse of these ideas by both sides.
-If (a) alternative families more likely run in (a1) some social groups such as in (a2) some ethnic groups; and (b1) alternative families are more likely to be bad than are idealized nuclear families, (b2) especially the alternative families in an ethnic group are more likely to be bad when the ethnic group faces bad straits such as bad jobs and prejudice; and, (c) once bad, however they got that way, alternative families stay bad for quite a while; then (d1) ethnic groups with more alternative families are likely to have more bad families, (d2) the families are likely to stay bad for quite a while; (d3) these bad families are likely to cause other bad families; (d4) and so on. (e) There will be enough bad alternative families in the ethnic group so bad families will typify the group as a whole. (f1) Other groups have to see the ethnic group as a whole as made up of bad alternative families and (f2) have to act accordingly. (1) Ethnic groups with more bad alternative families are (2) not likely to change to better alternative families and to be better as an ethnic group. (A) The ethnic group as a whole will seem bad. (B) For their own security, other groups have to react accordingly. (C) Then the people in the ethnic group will respond accordingly. (D) And so on.
This argument is dangerous because it easily supports totally irrational prejudice. It is also a common chain of thought even when people can’t put it into words or are not allowed to say it. In contrast, blind resistance to this argument, claiming alternative families are always good and groups with alternative families are always good, leads to denying truth, irrational reverse prejudice, bad reverse discrimination, and discrediting the people who want to fight prejudice and want to fight realistically for ethnic groups. This argument and resistance to it both play parts in politics, often bad parts.
If this reasoning is true even a bit, we owe it both to any ethnic group accused and to the general public to think out the links and to think what we can (should) do or not do. We owe it to the ethnic group and everybody to keep prejudice, reverse prejudice, “us versus them”, and partisan politics, out as much as possible. If this argument is true even a bit, then leaders of any ethnic groups that have problems with violence and crime have to own up to it and have to force their people to face it. I have not seen that. If this argument is true or false even a bit, leaders outside the accused group have to make clear to their fellows how true and how false, and have to suggest a good moral response, keeping in mind that all of us are valuable human persons. I have not seen this either. Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, etc. all have to be clear to themselves and to each other and I have not seen much of that.
What ratio of individual people in a social group or ethnic group have to be troublesome, and what ratio of families in a social group or ethnic group have to be seen as bad families, so the group as a whole is seen as bad: 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%? Some groups, especially in some areas, qualify easily. Here are some plausible guidelines. These guidelines will show how unfair the human system is, especially to good people in bad families or in bad groups, and to good families among bad families or in bad groups; but it is what we have to work with. If two people in a family, even in a big alternative family, are bad, the whole family is judged bad. If more than 20%, usually less, of families in any group is judged bad, the whole group is judged bad. You can see it takes only a minority of bad people and bad families to make a whole group look bad.
Be honest. If you are in a Black family and your family was sent to live where all the families were good White families, would you make it? Isn’t that what many Black families hope for, and see, when they flee the ghetto? If you were in a Black family and your family was sent to live in a neighborhood with 30% White “trash” would you make it? If you were a White family in a neighborhood where all the families were Black and good, I think you would be alright. If you were a White family where all the families were Black and 30% were bad, you would not make it. This is not racism. This is human nature and human social nature.
Families in good areas (groups) don’t want any families from bad areas (groups) coming to their good area (groups) to bring the bad. Families in good areas (groups) can’t afford to risk filtering good from bad; it is easier and better to avoid the whole other bad group and its bad families. This response is not mere prejudice; this response is rational; but it can feed prejudice. The feeling arises between ethnic groups such as between Blacks and Whites and between Blacks and Hispanics but it arises also within ethnic groups as when Blacks from this good area don’t want Blacks from that bad area coming in or when middle class suburban Whites don’t want bad exurban White trash coming in.
(See technical note in other writing about how sub-groupings within a social group or ethnic group affect how people see good and bad individuals in the group, see families in the group, and how they see the group as a whole.)
-Republicans use two facts to make misleading claims: (1) Many Republican clients live in families that can claim to be close enough to the ideal nuclear family, and claim to be good. Republican clients tend to have secure jobs with enough pay and benefits or to make enough in their business or professions. (2) Many Democratic live in alternative families. So, many Democrats live in bad alternative families. So, ethnic groups and social groups that are the Democratic clients are bad ethnic and social groups.
Republicans say nearly all Republican families are good families that follow family values well enough, and produce good people and good citizens.
Likely more families of Democratic clients are nuclear families than alternative families but Republicans overlook this fact or they say nuclear families among Democratic clients are too far from the ideal. So, Democratic nuclear families are not good nuclear families. Often enough, they are bad nuclear families.
Republicans continue: Enough Democratic clients live in bad families, bad ethnic groups such as Hispanic immigrants, and bad social groups such as a poor neighborhood. Whether Democratic families are alternative families, as is often the case, or nuclear families, enough Democratic families are bad families. They make bad people, and the bad people make more bad families. Democratic families are like the sleazy low class people with bad taste and bad manners on ethnic and White Trash so-called “reality” TV shows. Nearly all Democratic clients are immoral, deserve what they get, and don’t deserve any help. Let them rot in their own depravity and kill each other off. Republicans say bad alternative families are typical of some whole groups such as Blacks, “White trash”, and poor people. Bad attitudes cause bad families, not economics or prejudice. Don’t allow excuses. Bad attitudes and bad families don’t change when groups have better economic success, protected by laws, favored by programs, and find some job success. Bad families and ethnic groups do not understand family values and there is no point trying to teach them. Even if the people in some alternative families have a good attitude, the fact that they live in alternative families shows their failure, and their failure shows they can’t manage their money and lives, so they must be low in mind and character. Although they seem good now, they are likely to make bad families members, so, later on make bad families. Let them live in their own areas and become the prey of bad alternative families.
Republicans continue: In ethnic groups with many alternative families and thus many bad alternative families, even many families that seem like nuclear families are not good families but are bad families. They have been infected by bad alternative families. They branched off from bad alternative families, and from bad nuclear families, and they retain the bad attitudes. They only seem like nuclear families because they get state support and the support requires them to live like nuclear families. But they do not share the good values that are at the core of good nuclear families. The make too many bad people; and the bad people make bad alternative families and bad groups.
We Republicans judge the entire group by their bad families, bad alternative families and bad nuclear families.
When families switch to the Republican Party, it shows they intend to follow Republican family values, be good families, make good citizens, manage their money well, and make good people. They will kick out or will control any members who do not live up to good Republican family values. They will distance themselves from their old fellows in their socio-economic class or social group who cannot measure up. Black, White, and Hispanic families that wish to live correctly will keep away from families in their old group that live badly. These better families don’t usually need help but do need some protection. They need protection especially from rivals for jobs and from their old fellow families in their socio-economic class and social group, who will be jealous and angry. We are happy to protect them, and we will help them if needed. Such help is always cost effective and good for America.
Of course, no Republican says much of this straight out. But people take Republicans this way.
Republicans gained a lot of working and middle class Whites and Asians with this stance, and gained some Hispanics and Blacks too.
Democrats have their own version of selective facts and misleading claims. Democrats think, but do not often say, and do so with little evidence: All Republican families, and all the families that have a higher-than-average income, are really rotten at the core. They are like the families you see on TV crime shows or in movies about divorce, like the rich family in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. The husband cheats on the wife, the wife cheats on him, all the kids use hard drugs, at least one of the kids is a homosexual, all the kids have been kicked out of schools, at least one is an alcoholic, at least one parent and one kid is a pervert, it is worse if the wife is a pervert, the father beats the wife, and all the kids have been arrested but were able to buy off the bust. Yet they all smile together for family photos, go to church often, and support family values. Despite their bad characters, all the kids will go to good schools and get good high paying jobs or pursue a good profession such as lawyer or stock broker, or they will get a good job in a factory or a big store. They are all spoiled brats even when grown up and even if they came from a working background or middle class background. They are bad families, they make bad people, and the bad people make more bad families. They get away with it because they have money and connections and they know how to put up a good front. They know nothing of real family values.
Democrats continue: Most Republicans are White. Most Republican bad families are White. A lot of White people now are Republicans even if they are working people or middle class people, and even if they were Democrats a generation ago. Enough White people have bad families. We are correct to be scared of White people because of their bad families and bad attitudes. White people are bad.
Democrats claim that all families, including nuclear families and alternative families, of all Democratic clients, are good reasonable healthy adaptations to economics and greater society.
Many Democratic clients want to live in alternative families because they like big families, not because of bad attitudes or any weirdness. Many Democratic families live in alternative families because of bad jobs, so they can pool their resources, share risks, and deal with prejudice, not because of bad attitudes or weirdness. Many Democratic clients, even with good jobs, live in alternative families because they got used to it when their ancestors had to live in alternative families to deal with bad jobs and prejudice. Nuclear families stay in close touch for the same reasons. Alternative families are the best that people could do in their situations.
Among Democratic clients, all families and all alternative families promote healthy reasonable attitudes and none promote bad attitudes. No alternative families are caught up in the bad cycle, or, at least, not through their consent. None have bad attitudes. All are breaking out of the bad cycle. If there are any issues, all the issues are caused by outside pressure and by outside pressure alone.
Nuclear families in Democratic client groups, even nuclear families that have budded from an alternative family, even nuclear families that have budded from a bad alternative family, even nuclear families in what Republicans call a bad ethnic or social group, are not bad. They do not live like nuclear families mostly because welfare makes them live that way. They are good families who have set themselves up to make in the best situation they can find to make the best of things.
Even if a particular ethnic group has a higher share of alternative families than White Republicans have, no particular ethnic group such as Blacks has a higher share of bad families or bad alternative families, than any other group. “Alternative” does not mean “bad” and it does not mean “bad ethnic group” or “bad group of single moms”.
The root problem is that prejudice, mostly by Whites but now also sometimes by other ethnic groups such as East Asians and South Asians, keeps Democratic clients from getting good jobs. All the families of Democratic clients are victims. All the families would be fully decent, reasonable, and cultivate good attitudes, if only Whites give them the help that they need and if we could end prejudice by Whites and others.
Alternative families in all ethnic groups that are Democratic clients have family values in that family members love and support each other, and are committed to the family. But outsiders refuse to see.
All help to all families, explicitly including all alternative families, of all Democratic clients, whether by a state program or by a private agency, is a good investment that pays off in helping individuals, families, social groups including ethnic groups, schools, and society. Investment in them is never wasted.
Democrats lost many people of all colors and classes with their stance, especially working class and middle class people with good jobs, and especially Whites and Asians, even if Democrats did gain and keep clients, and even if there is some truth to the stance.
Of course, Democrats don’t say much of this straight out, although they do say some of it such as that there are no bad Democratic families and all investment in the families of Democratic clients pays off handsomely. But people take it as above.
Both Republicans and Democrats are overall wrong. Not all Republican and White nuclear families are rotten at the core. Not all people in alternative families are inept, depraved, immoral, or weak. Some are quite good, heroic, and struggle to raise good children in trying situations. We can learn from them. If alternative families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why. If bad alternative families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why. If bad nuclear families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why.
Neither argument is completely wrong either. The only thing I point out is that there really are bad families and bad alternative families, they are more common in some groups, and they tend to persist in some groups regardless of good economic times. To admit this is not to damn a whole group as bad such as Blacks, Hispanics, or “White trash”. Unless we do admit this fact and take it into account, we cannot see how other groups respond to groups with bad families and we can’t make it any better.
As more people who are not clients of the Democratic Party have to live in alternative families due to economic pressure, we might get a better view of the interplay between economic pressure, attitude, community, group culture, and outside prejudice. As more working and middle class White people are forced to live with Mom and Dad for longer times, we might get a better idea of what causes what. The recent opioid epidemic (2018) is a clue but it is not a definitive sign that job hardship alone causes bad attitudes and bad families. Don’t rely on economic problems among Whites to prove (a) all alternative families among all other ethnic groups are due to poverty and prejudice alone, (b) all alternative families with bad attitudes have bad attitudes due to poverty and prejudice alone, and (c) all alternative families among all non-White groups never had intrinsic bad attitudes – (d) they all started good and got turned bad because of White prejudice and discrimination. Job hardship among Whites and resulting changes does not necessarily prove the Democratic stance. Bad attitudes are bad attitudes, they cause bad acts and bad people, and they linger across generations, in families, and in groups.
Americans are beginning to accept that some alternative families are healthy, adaptive, and responsible, as in TV shows such as Modern Family, This is Us, and Reba. The Brady Bunch was really a big nuclear nearly ideal family but the family had enough “alternative” in its background to open the door a crack. Even people who make a point of family values and of extolling the unreal idealized nuclear family now see that forces shape families and that some alternative families are good families. Even White Country “Just Folks” know now that not all kids who still live with Dad and Mom on the old unprofitable 20 acres do so because the kids are no good bums, bar sluts, failed criminals, or heroic rebels.
On the other hand, groups that have many alternative families, and that have may bad people and bad families, especially many bad alternative families, still refuse to see. They refuse to see that bad families make bad people and bad people make bad families. They refuse to accept that other groups are not merely prejudiced or are irrational in worrying about the bad families and the bad group and in keeping away from the bad families and bad group. They refuse to see that not all their families and people have to be bad, or even that most of their people and families have to be bad, for other groups reasonably to label their group as bad and to defend against their group. If your group has enough trash families, then that is how it will be judged, and that is how it should be judged by other worried groups. I feel sorry for the many hard working honest good people in the families and groups judged harshly. It is not fair that a few bad apples spoil the barrel, not fair for the whole family to be judged by a few bad members and not fair for the whole group to be judged by a few bad people and bad families, but that is the way it is, and that is the way it has to be. That is what the good people in so-called bad groups have to overcome, even more than they have to overcome the prejudice of other groups.
-It is still not clear if society as a whole need to do anything, especially through politics. If we do need to act, it is not clear what we need to do, how much it will cost, what we will get, if we can afford it, and if it is worth the cost.
Neither Party wants to look at these issues with a cool head. Both Parties would rather support dogma because dogma also supports their clients, hurts the clients of the other Party, and helps keep this Party in power. You have to think about it for yourself.
# Broad and Narrow
The comments here apply to the section above and to the section below. While reading the section below, at a specific marked point, please re-read this section by searching +++++ Then return to the material below by searching =====.
Democrats say Republicans are exclusive rather than inclusive, and the fact that Republicans use only a narrow unrealistic idea of the family (nuclear) makes Republican exclusion vicious and bad. Republicans will not see how a variety of families, in a variety of groups, are useful adaptations to various situations, and how all successful family types can carry good family values. Rather than seek to help good families in their struggle against bad families, Republicans assert that only one type of family is successful, only one type is valid, the ideal nuclear family, only it can carry good family values, all other families are bad deviations away from the ideal nuclear family, they are not really families, and as deviations, they can carry only bad values or inferior values. We should not worry about helping those families but instead should help only families that are already on their way.
Democrats claim they are broad and inclusive. They accept the nuclear family and other family types as valid, good responses to economic pressures and to prejudice, and as teaching good family values. The Democratic view includes the Republican nuclear family as one family among many so the Democratic view subsumes the Republican view in a bigger better view.
Democrats say this contrast is typical of the difference between them and Republicans. In most issues, Republicans want to narrow it down to one right point of view, their view, while Democrats want to look at a variety of successful views to see how they work, what good values are held by successful groups, and what good values might be used for success in other situations. Because Republicans are narrow and exclusive, they can’t see a variety of responses to social issues but see only one: more business. Because Democrats are inclusive and cherish variety, they see a variety of approaches and principles, and are able to choose the best response.
Democrats are not fully correct but are correct enough that Republicans are often narrow and exclusive while Democrats try to be broad and inclusive. Democrats are correct to see various family types not as degenerate deviations from an idealized nuclear family but as kinds in their own right, often successful adaptations to the pressures of bad jobs and discrimination. Democrats are correct to see that a variety of families can carry good family values. It really does help to take families on their own terms first, in their situations, to walk a mile in their shoes, before we decide whether they are good or bad, and carry good values or bad values.
But then we do have to decide. We need principles to decide. Some principles we learn “in the field” and some we learn as part of our basic moral, religious, and human training. When we do decide, we have to accept that not all families are good successful adaptations and carry good values. We have to say what is good and bad, and why. We have to tied good and bad to economic and social situations. Democrats will not do any of this.
So, the Democratic claim about being broad and diverse rings hollow. It has the same problem as weak broad moral relativism that won’t find fault with anybody or anything and the Democratic claim does not have the strength of moderate moral relativism that also rests in some strong principles. If every family is successful, good, and carries good family values, then no family is bad, no family carries bad values, none pose a threat, and, we have little to learn. Families that promote teenage pregnancy and welfare dependence are just as good as families that promote hard work, continual betterment, and as little dependency as possible.
People can see the Democratic claim about no bad families is false, and so people disbelieve the whole Democratic stance. People see the Democratic stance as resting not on the desire to see other people fairly, learn what we can, give credit where credit is due, and find the best solutions, but as telling every family they are good so Democrats can recruit as many clients, from as big a group, as they can. Every child is a winner at all tasks no matter how inept at some. We refuse to see some children are better in some things while others are better at other things, and some children are losers at some things. Any attempt to be broad and inclusive is only a ploy, and must lead to a moral and practical morass, and we should not go that way. Instead, we should pick winners, stick with them, and let losers fall by the way. Democrats hurt good inclusivity and good broad-mindedness by not saying some families are good, and why, and some are bad, and why.
To do that Democrats would have to say what their deep values are, where those values came from, and how those values apply in the modern world; and Democrats don’t want to do that. In not doing that, Democrats open the door wide for Republicans. People are happy to walk through the Republican door to get some moral and social clarity. That is a shame for both sides, and for the people.
(This note will make sense only to social scientists and philosophers: Both Democrats and Republicans try to substitute a social form (a family type) for moral-and-practical substance and for moral-and-practical hard thinking, like saying all sports cars are good and all minivans are bad. Republicans use the idealized nuclear family to indicate goodness while Democrats use the alternative family, of which their version of the nuclear family is one type, to indicate goodness, and so avoid figuring out what goodness is and how it does or does not show up in particular cases. This way leads to many errors that I do not describe here.)
# Family Values and American Politics.
This section is the third of three on the family in American politics.
-According to Republicans, “family values” is the body of ideas that accepts the TV nuclear family, and all its typical roles, as the ideal, promotes that ideal, and assumes that real families can approach that ideal closely enough to make the struggle worthwhile. Family values come from God and the Christian Bible, even though similar family values are found in other cultures as in East Asia where Confucianism shaped families and Southeast Asia where Buddhism shaped families. Family values denies the naturalness and validity of alternative families, denies any validity for the roles of people in alternative families such as to the matriarch or to gay spouses who are equal, and denies the validity of any values that people learn as members in alternative families such as getting pregnant young and getting welfare. In family values ideology, the family is the basis for the state, specifically, the nuclear family is the basis for the state. If the nuclear family is healthy, the state is healthy; if the state is good, it helps the idealized nuclear family and only that family. Any attack on the idealized nuclear family is an attack on the state and so is a kind of treason (Confucianism says something similar). Attack on the state is also attack on the family and so on God. For example, while sex is a lot of fun sometimes under the right conditions, it should be done in the context of the idealized nuclear family or as part of courtship, near marriage, courtship that must lead to the idealized nuclear family. Any sex in other circumstances, or any sex not aimed at eventual marriage to produce a nuclear family, is a violation of the idealized nuclear family and so a violation of state and God. I do not go into the details of the traditional values and roles.
The idealized unreal nuclear family is NOT the family style found most often in the Bible, and the Bible does not label that family as the best. If anything, for its preferred and likely best family, the Bible gives a family that is multi-generation-with-many-siblings-their-spouses-and-children-still-resident-mixed-and-blended. That is more like an alternative family than like the ideal nuclear family. Nuclear families are too small to have lasted long in Biblical conditions. In the Bible, God tells men and women that they should commit to each other and become one flesh even over the demands of their natal families, their parents. It is not clear that this command supports only Republican-like family values. Some people in the Bible did not follow the command that way. Biblical parents sometimes required children to show more allegiance to the parents than the spouse. If modern Republican parents tried this on their kids, the parents would get clobbered. However, Biblical interpretation is not really relevant because neither Republicans nor Democrats really get validation or denial from the Bible or any holy writing. Their ideas have more to do with the politics of class and social group in our time and economy.
-According to Republicans, as part of misguided ideas about human freedom, Democrats promote ideas and acts that hurt the idealized nuclear family and that are ultimately aimed to destroy the ideal nuclear family, families in general, Christian religion, a good democratic American state, and belief in God. Most Democrats don’t know they are so bad, they are merely dupes of bad ideas and people, but their ideas and acts have that effect anyway.
Bad ideas include: every person can decide what is right and good all by him-herself; what is right or wrong for one person is not right or wrong for another; sex without commitment; sex can be enjoyed outside of marriage and of courtship leading to marriage; gender roles are not rooted in biology but are made up only by culture; people can take any gender role; alternative families are always just as good as the ideal nuclear family; most alternative families are as good as the ideal nuclear family; multiple children by multiple sex partners is alright; teenage pregnancy is alright; abortion is acceptable; drug and alcohol use is acceptable; non-stereotypical sex-gender roles among children is acceptable such as girly (gay) boys and boyish (lesbian) girls; gay marriage is acceptable; gay people adopting children is acceptable; lovable rogues are always better than hard working good guys; bad boys are even better; “gangstas” are even better than bad boys; bad girls are a lot of fun and never get in trouble; any trouble is always worth it and you can always get out of trouble; decent guys and girls (young women) are boring; naughtiness is fun and never really causes trouble; getting in trouble is part of growing up and it is what forgiveness is for; it is alright to have children as a teen because your family will take of you all; it is alright to have a baby with a man who will not support your or the baby and then go on welfare and force the state act as the missing parent; and it is alright for a young man to knock-up a girl, hunting girls is part of being a man, because the state will step in with welfare and take care of the girl and the kid as well as you could.
God will punish the state that does not support the nuclear family and God will reward the state that does promote the nuclear family. Rewards and punishments usually come in a good or bad economy, prosperity or recession. Sometimes reward and punishment is through success or failure in war, and sometimes domestically as with success in science or hardship in drug epidemics and diseases. Most Republicans don’t like to say out loud this part of the family values package but they know that this part is central to many of their Republican fellows.
-Some ways to promote families using the state: (1) The state has favored family types and disfavored family types; usually favored and disfavored types are linked to particular social groups such as the middle class and particular ethnic groups such as Blacks or Whites. When a Party can control the state, the state rewards favored families. The Party hurts disfavored family types.
The state impacts families as described below. In the past, state actions tended to favor Republicans, the Republican view of the nuclear family as the only valid family, and Republican clients. Beginning in the 1920, slowly Democrats took over some of the means described below and promoted their view of families, in particular alternative families as all valid. Much of the fight about family values has been about how state tools are used depending on which Party is in power. Rather than say “when this Party is in power it uses these tools this way and when that Party is in power it uses these tools that way”, I mostly just describe the tools.
Way to use the state, continued: (2) The state gives tax breaks and offers programs such as welfare and aid to dependent children. I do not describe the tax code or programs. The state tries to promote business activities that lead to jobs for family members. The state shapes state schools to train family members for jobs that it deems appropriate to particular kinds of families in particular districts. The state writes laws for programs such as welfare so members of favored families can more easily qualify and can qualify for larger amounts. The state tends to make recipients live in situations that are like the nuclear family such as when a single mother has to live on her own with her children rather than in a house with her mother and her sisters. The state dislikes giving resources when the recipients would share the resources with others in the household who do not qualify, as when one-sister-in-a-big-household gets welfare and shares it with her mother and sisters and their families. The state uses the legal system to help favored families and groups and to punish stigmatized families and groups. The state helps favored families by not arresting or prosecuting their members for minor crimes such as drugs and theft, and by giving members mild sentences if they are convicted. The state punishes stigmatized families by arresting and prosecuting members, convicting them at higher rates, and giving them harsh sentences. The state carries out this policy with larger crimes as when non-White people are more likely, with similar evidence, to be convicted of a crime, and to receive a harsher sentence. A White woman from the upper middle class gets a few months for embezzling millions of dollars while a young Black man with only a grandmother for guidance gets two years for stealing food. Or, in the Democratic version, all financiers involved in the housing collapse of 2007 go to hard prison time for the rest of their lives while all drug users and mid-level drug dealers get pardons. The state can harass or not harass gay couples. In the past, the state did not allow gay couples to marry. The state can help or hinder gay couples trying to adopt children. The state shapes military service so it benefits members of favored families through training and pay, and does not hurt members by getting them killed.
It is hard to tell which version of “family values” a politician holds. Because there are so many points, taxes, and programs, politicians can mix and match depending on their audience.
(a) With entitlement programs such as welfare, more often the state has favored alternative families and favored ethnic groups that have many alternative families such as Blacks. Since the 1980s, poor Whites have figured out how to use some entitlement programs in the same way such as Social Security Disability (SSD). (b) The state has more often used the military and the legal system to favor children from White nuclear families and to harass members of alternative families among Blacks and Hispanics. (c) The use of the military began to change after Harry Truman forcibly integrated the military in the early 1950s. (d) Since the 1990s, the military has tried to avoid siding with the clients of either Party and has been a good model for equal treatment of ethnic groups and for helping all young people. Since about 2010, the military has tried to deal with alternative gender roles as well as it can given the back and forth shifting of civilian policies and decisions.
-Democrats have their own version of family values. It roughly includes version two above as long as the support is aimed at Democratic clients, but the Democratic version also: says all alternative families are always as good as the ideal nuclear family; and says non-traditional roles are as good. Democrats do not condemn people for sex outside marriage but do condemn people for extra-marital sex because it hurts the family. Of course, Republicans say Democrats are not strong enough in their condemnation of extra-marital sex.
Democrats say true family values are love, commitment, and support among a group, including among adults and children, and it does not matter who is in the group of how they got together. It does not matter if love is between gays or straights, or a mixture. Not many decades ago, Republicans said that a racially mixed family could not follow family values and was against God, but that Republican idea was proven wrong, and the Democratic idea of love, commitment, and support was proven right. Further support for the Democratic view is in the Christian Bible and other religious books but support need not be found there because it is in the human heart and in experience. Love, commitment, and support are more important than traditional roles and more important than limiting the family to only some people, roles, and patterns. The ideas that the Republicans throw in our face are, in fact, good ideas as long as they are not abused, and all ideas can be abused. Personal freedom is good. Humans are never merely biology. We have minds and we can choose. As long as we don’t hurt other people, let us have our freedom. We don’t hurt families that are based on love, commitment, and support; and we will provide statistics to prove that families have not been hurt by our ideas, especially families based on love, commitment, and support have not been hurt but have been helped. We have provided the basis for families to love and accept children who are LGBTQ, have drug problems, have genetic problems, and are autistic, and that is more than Republican ideology can claim. Even abortion has not hurt families, and we don’t recommend abortion, we tolerate it. A state that has these kinds of families based on love, commitment, and support will be strong; if non-nuclear and nuclear families act like this, the state will be strong. A state that does not support these families, that does not help love, commitment, and support, will be weak whether the families are nuclear families or other kinds. That result is automatic and it does not depend on God intervening to carry it out.
Democrats don’t say where their values came from or give much of a rationale for how their values hold together other than to say things like “We have hearts”. Democrats don’t say for sure what will happen in the state, or not happen, if the state supports their values or denies them, and Democrats don’t say how the state will benefit or hurt. Democrats deny that God will reward or punish the state. Democrats do hint disaster will come if the state does not support them and does support Republicans, and grace will come if the state does support Democrats rather than Republicans. They don’t say what disasters or graces are or how they come. Democrats do say that not implementing Democratic policies is a moral failure but they never say why a moral failure is so important or why it leads to bad results. They do not say why good moral action leads to good results not just for recipient families but for the whole nation. This lack of a consistent view makes it hard to know how Democratic policies will be used and this lack supports the view that Democrats really help clients rather than that the Democrats really wish to help everybody equally. Few Democrats know much about the roots of their values in Liberal thinking. This situation does not mean Democrats are wrong and Republicans are right, morality is irrelevant, morality is not its own reward, or practical results do not follow morality; but this result does mean we need better thinking and better explanation from both Parties.
(If Republicans don’t bring in God-God’s-morality-and-the-state, they have the same problem explaining their family values, but the issue never seems to come up with them and most of them don’t really want to bring it up. If it did come up, I think they would do a better job of offering a consistent rationale than Democrats do but I doubt I would believe it much.)
-Republicans counter: “Love, commitment, and support” are great values, we are behind them too. We add taking responsibility and consideration for neighbors. You can find the origin of these ideals in the Christian Bible, and you can’t find their origin better elsewhere. They are more likely to be found among real nuclear families such as Republicans support than among the alternative families that Democrats support. Democrats don’t promote nuclear families where love, commitment, and support really can be found and helped but instead enable bad alternative families where love, commitment, support, responsibility, and consideration are in short supply. Democratic support of bad alternative families undermines nuclear families where the values are best found and taught. So we really promote love, commitment, and support more than you do.
Republicans: Love, commitment, and support alone are not enough. They do not provide the content that makes a family into a family. They can apply to any organization, even bad ones, including communes, witches covens, terrorist cells, and the bad business firm in the movie “Wolf of Wall Street”. Those groups are not families and not good, they are parodies of families, and they are bad. To make love, commitment, and support apply to families, and to make families good, you have to add particular relations and roles. When you specify relations and roles, you will find they pretty much fall in line with what we said all along, such as parent and child, leader and follower, disciplinarian and comforter, male and female. Families headed by gay people, when they want to be families and to deal with the world successfully, fall into these roles. Gay-headed families do not fall into these roles merely due to cultural inertia but because of the realities of human life on this world. The roles work. All families want success for their children, success includes the child having a family of his-her own, and that likely means a nuclear family. Maybe we have been a little strict and old-fashioned in our ideas of relations and roles but you have to see that you can’t get too far away from what we have said without losing the idea of a family. Only when alternative families promote love, commitment, and support within the framework of traditional tried-true-and-proven relationships and roles do they succeed as families, that is, only when they revert to old form and approximate the ideal good nuclear family. If they do not get close to the traditional ideal, they might persist day by day but they do not succeed emotionally or financially. They become bad alternative families. Think about all the TV shows that supposedly support non-traditional freedom such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother. The characters end up married and living mostly as couples with children in their own places. Even womanizing Barney falls into fatherly love with his daughter. Phoebe was desperate for a mate. That is how people really do wish to live, and there are good reasons. We might as well have this ideal clearly in mind and might as well work for it even if we cannot meet it perfectly.
Mike: If Republicans were true Conservatives, the paragraph above would show good Conservative thought. Be sure that stereotypes of relationships and roles don’t hurt love, commitment, and support. That is a Republican mistake, one that Democrats point out. Then Democrats use their own ideologies to hurt love, commitment, and support.
Republicans: It is fine to help kinds of individuals and particular non-family groups that need help such as soldiers, farmers, homeless people, and factory workers who have lost their jobs. It is even fine when some help goes to Democratic clients such as Blacks, Hispanics, and single mothers. But the best way to give help is to help families first, in particular to help good nuclear families. When nuclear families get in trouble, we should help them before anybody else, for many reasons. If nuclear families are in trouble, then no matter how much help we give elsewhere, and no matter how deserved, it will all falter. Only after nuclear families are on sure ground can we afford to help others, and, even then, we likely will want to help groups such as soldiers and disaster victims before we help alternative families, especially we don’t want to enable bad alternative families. Most people live in families, so, if we help families, especially nuclear families, we help other people and all groups too. Nearly all people want to live in nuclear families, even the people in alternative families, so, if we help nuclear families first, we promote the kind of family that nearly all people want to be like. If we shape aid so aid guides people toward secure nuclear families, then we help people with what they really want. If we help families, all families but in particular nuclear families, we help not only them but we also invest in the future by helping their children and grandchildren. We help the economy, and a sound economy gives us greater wealth by which to help others such as soldiers. In a sound economy, people prefer to live in nuclear families. Families are a group too, a group that needs help just as other groups need help, and families are the group that can best use help. Not only do farm workers and Blacks need help but so do working class and middle class families – of any color - and most of them live in nuclear families and try to live close to the ideal. We have only so much wealth. Republicans aim what help we can give at the group that will do the best with our limited wealth and give the best return. Once we are sure nuclear families are on solid ground, we can help some individuals who are left out such as homeless soldiers and kids on the street. If you look at the record, we are at least as good at that as you are.
Democrats: Republicans don’t help working class families and most middle class families. They help upper middle class and upper class families first, families that really don’t need much help, and then Republicans claim the help they give to people who don’t need help somehow trickles down to working and middle class families that do need help, all-the-while knowing help won’t trickle down. Republicans get away with this strategy because they have convinced working class and middle class families that those families can use tax breaks and similar gimmicks even while Republicans know they can’t. So, all Republican talk of helping families first is blather. It is hard to pass legislation that really helps working class and middle class families first, so Democrats help the people and groups that laws actually can be targeted toward such as homeless people and single mothers.
Democrats work so that non-traditional families are not deprived of support from some tax breaks and from state programs, and so ethnic groups with many alternative families are not deprived. Democrats try to protect alternative families, some particular social groups, and some particular ethnic groups from state harassment through the legal system. Democrats try to make sure all people are treated equally and well by the military.
-Both Democrats and Republicans twist the values to serve their ends. Even when they say good things about family values, as above, we have to catch our breath and put it in the right context. Here is not the place to get into what are real family values in general, what are good values in particular situations, and how to interpret values for particular situations without losing a base of deep principles. Likely the best way to approach family values is through honesty, in particular honesty from parents to their children, not only about ideal values, but about failings of the parents, their family, and their social group. You don’t have to make it sound like a sordid soap opera.
These days, maybe the best way to get an idea of good family values seems to be from good TV shows about families and about young people, but you have to watch a lot of them, with both Left and Right leanings, and you have to pay attention to what really happens to the characters and to how old style the characters really are even if they are gay. The characters don’t abuse drugs and they really do want one spouse, usually heterosexual, good job, a few kids, and a nice house or nice apartment in a district with good schools. They take responsibility. They don’t look down on gay people or gay couples. You can watch advice shows on the religious channels but they don’t seem realistic enough to me.
If you want to protect your family, tell them the truth, and warn them against propaganda from both sides. Tell your children how safe or dangerous marijuana is. Tell children the truth about premarital and extramarital sex without expecting them never to do it. Tell them the truth about alcohol, nicotine and other drugs. Tell them the truth about kinds of families and what might lead people to live in one kind of family rather than another. Tell them the truth about bad and good families, and how to handle bad families. Tell them the truth about capitalism, good and bad. Tell them about economic classes and how class interacts with race and gender. Tell them that social groups do have good or bad attitudes that have little to do with oppression or privilege. Tell them when the ideologies of a Church or political party are more fairy tale or propaganda than truth. To tell them the truth, you have to sort it out for yourself first without relying on political or religious propaganda.
This section is not a full treatment of American schools. The material here does not rest on whether alternative families are good or bad, and on the implications of alternative families for good and bad ethnic groups. It focuses on how political parties, families, schools, and race come together. See the section on “Brown v. Board” in Part 4 on Republicans, and see “History 4” below for related remarks on schools.
Before about 1970, American schools were not all equal but nearly all American schools taught enough education, and enough character building, of enough quality, so most American children could expect to get a decent enough job in those times.
In the 1960s and 1970s, these changes happened: (a) Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants moved into districts that had been White, Asian, secure working class, and-or secure middle class, with mostly good schools. (b) Students from Black and Hispanic districts, mostly with bad schools, were forcibly bused into districts of Whites and Asians, with mostly good schools. (c) Students from White and Asian districts, with mostly good schools, were forcibly bused to Black and Hispanic schools, to mostly bad schools. (d) Parents in the districts into which Blacks and Hispanics had moved or had been bused, and where schools got worse, White and Asian parents, took their children out of public schools and put their children into private schools, often at a distance from home. Private schools often had a religious affiliation. The religious affiliation allowed parents to say they were not fleeing any ethnic group but really were seeking character building for their children. Religious schools made a point of accepting some non-White students, partly because the schools really wished to have a diverse student body and partly to show that the schools were not based on race but on religion. In fact, I think the schools were based mostly on race but were willing to have a few non-White students as long as the students learned White attitudes (culture).
Since about 1970, American schools have divided roughly into two groups:
(1) A few good public schools, and many private schools, that give quality education and build character. These schools are located where the parents have good jobs that are secure, jobs that give enough pay and benefits, and the schools are located where the parents have secure businesses and professions. Often they are in college towns or in secure comfortable areas of cities. The families of students tend to be like the idealized nuclear family except that both parents work, which, now, is acceptable. The ethnic groups tend to be White, South Asian, and East Asian (collectively “Asian”) with some successful people from Hispanics and Blacks. The students likely go to college, get good jobs themselves, and pay taxes to support similar schools for their own later children. So these schools are part of a cycle that supports the families and the schools together.
(2) Bad public schools that tend to merely house students until students leave. Some students can get a start at a good education, if they are lucky and try hard. Most students merely sit until they are let out at the age of eighteen. Too many students leave not being able to read, write, or do simple arithmetic. Despite statewide testing, their diplomas are meaningless. Their diplomas undermine the credibility of all schools and diplomas, even good schools. Bad schools are tied to poor people, working people with bad jobs, single parents, many Blacks, many Hispanics, and many recent immigrants. These schools are also linked to alternative families and to the social groups that support alternative families, bad families, and bad alternative families. These schools are not usually linked to stable ideal-like nuclear families. These schools are associated with nuclear families that maintain ties to alternative families. Financially poor parents make for bad schools which make for bad students who only get bad jobs that contribute only a little to the tax base so that the schools stay bad, students get only bad jobs, and so on.
The following are points of contention between Republicans and Democrats: the role of bad families, especially bad alternative families, in bad schools; the role of ethnicity; the role of attitude; the ability of money alone to break the cycle and improve schools; and where additional money should come from.
At the risk of being hated, I (Mike) must be clear that the influx of students from bad districts usually hurts good schools, families, and neighborhoods, into which they came. The schools go from good to bad. School academic performance drops. Even adept hard working students with good character can’t get a good enough education. Schools no longer serve as a good way to a skilled job or to college and then a good job. All these increase: crime and delinquency; violence and threats of violence; violent crime; bullying; rape; sexual intimidation; teenage pregnancy; single parenthood; alternative families; bad alternative families; drug use; and gangs. Neighborhoods get dirtier and louder.
Mike adds: The actions of Whites and Asians in sending their children to private schools, and moving away, are reasonable, if sad. Their actions do not have to come primarily from prejudice and hate. I think their actions do not come primarily from prejudice and hate. Of course, their actions can be part of prejudice and hate. To figure out that issue, we have to look at prejudice and hate by Blacks and Hispanics too, which I do not do here and which is dangerous to do in America now. When Blacks and Hispanics have a secure sufficient income, they flee the ghettos to go to White and Asian areas for good schools; people do not say their actions come mainly from prejudice and hate.
I try not to assign blame. I do have to say what I think is going on.
Many secure White and Asian parents had to pay twice: once to support bad public schools for Blacks and Hispanics that White and Asian children did not attend and that harmed the areas of formerly good schools; and again to support the private schools that their children did attend. Even if the Whites and Asians did not live in the neighborhood, they still paid local taxes, and those taxes went to bad schools in bad areas with bad families. Naturally, White, Asian, and parents with good jobs hated it. They blamed Democrats, Blacks, Hispanics, recent immigrants, and the alternative families typical of all those groups, the families and groups that made bad kids, bad schools, and more bad families.
Instead of running away to other neighborhoods and sending their children to private schools, White and Asian parents could have dug in, cooperated with Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, and worked to make all local schools stay good enough or even get better. Of course, successful Black, Hispanic, and immigrant families did not do that either. I do not explain much why this did not happen. Some of the reasons: By the early 1970s, the race riots had convinced non-Blacks that Blacks hated all non-Blacks, and that non-Blacks were not safe anywhere around Blacks. Non-Black children were not safe when bussed to Black areas, and busing Blacks into non-Black areas was like putting sharks into a goldfish pond. In fact, non-Black children bussed into Black areas did suffer considerable abuse. By the middle 1970s, Whites and Asians already had seen the failure of Democratic programs such as family support, urban improvement, and school improvement. Three generations at least of dedicated teachers had used their lives trying to reform city schools, and largely failed. These programs wasted much money and showed few long-term benefits. The rise of cocaine and crack changed the character of Black areas and seemed to change the general character of Blacks. Drugs made most formerly-nuclear families into bad alternative families. Drugs made formerly good alternative families into bad alternative families. This time was the rise of “gangsta” culture with seemingly wholehearted acceptance in Black areas, and a version in Hispanic areas. Welfare and other entitlement programs corrupted families so that formerly good families became bad. Many seemingly nuclear families were really bad satellites of bad alternative families. Whites and Asians felt that the families, character, general attitude, and specific attitude about education, of Blacks and Hispanics, would not and could not change. Sometimes families and attitudes of recent immigrants did change. So: “Do not throw good money after bad”. At first, sending children to private schools and moving to more exclusive areas was not too much more expensive. Private schools and flight seemed like the least-cost most rational thing to do. Middle class and upper middle class Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, did the same when they could.
In return, Blacks and Hispanics blamed the Whites and Asians that took their kids out of public school and that moved out of the district, and then blamed ALL Whites and Asians for everything. Blacks and Hispanics had sought better schools. To get those, they needed the support of local parents and they needed the tax revenue given by people with good jobs, good businesses, and good professions. When White and Asians took their children out of public school, even though they still paid taxes for public school and so still paid double, often they did not pay directly to poor districts. So, in the view of the parents who still lived in bad school districts, Blacks and Hispanics, their areas did not have enough money to make good schools, and it was the fault of the people who would not support them – the Whites and Asians. Poor parents got caught up again in a cycle in which parents with bad jobs make poor schools which lead to only bad jobs which lead to poor parents, and so on.
Mike says: Money alone will not solve this problem. Since the rise of computers, the Internet, cable, broadband, cell phones, and programmed learning, a good quality education can be had for a fairly low price if parents, children, and the community, have the right attitude. Right attitude is a much bigger factor now than cost. The right attitude has not developed. Until the right attitude develops in many bad schools, and it develops before outside investment, then White and Asian parents will not invest in the schools of Blacks, Hispanics, and some recent immigrants. If the right attitude did develop in many schools before any additional investment and independently of additional investment, then additional investment likely would come in on top of that, although I cannot say for sure.
To entice unhappy White and Asian parents into the Party, Republicans came up with schemes in which parents would not have to pay twice yet still could keep their children out of bad schools dominated by Blacks and Hispanics. I don’t go into all the schemes. Basically, parents get paid back for the tuition that they have to spend at private schools, which payback should make up for what they had to pay in taxes to support bad schools that their children did not attend. Sometimes these pay-backs are through what is called “vouchers”. By allowing White and Asian parents to pay only once, Republicans further eroded the financial base for public schools in local areas, thus seriously damaging public schools. Republicans tried to channel state funds directly to religious schools, an action that might not be Constitutional. The parents and their Republican patrons tried to set up some good schools within bad districts to which good students could go. These schools use various names such as “magnet”, “pilot”, and “alternative”. Republicans tried to make sure that programs which Democrats had set up to benefit poor kids in bad schools also helped middle class kids in good schools, such as for athletics, math, and science.
Republicans are clear in their blame although they rarely say it straight out because of modern political correctness. Children cannot learn the correct attitude (values) in alternative families, especially not in bad alternative families, especially not in bad alternative families typical of bad ethnic groups and bad social groups. Children can learn the correct attitude only in nuclear-like families with the correct roles. Bad alternative families in bad (ethnic) groups make bad attitudes, and bad attitudes make bad families and bad groups. Bad attitudes make bad students and bad schools. The bad schools and bad students lead to more bad alternative families and more bad attitudes and more bad schools. Bad alternative families don’t want to get involved in their kids’ character and education. They don’t want to read with their kids and take time for education and character building although they take time to go to athletics. Bad alternative families want all “book learning” and “character building” to take place in the classroom, and want people with good jobs, Whites and Asians, to pay to do in the classroom what they won’t do in the family, community, and ethnic group. No matter how much money is spent in the classroom, as long as family, community, and ethnic group don’t change, the classroom won’t make the difference. As long as the evil circle of bad families and bad attitudes prevails, then helping is hopeless. The evil circle can break only from within the group.
Simply by recognizing that there is a problem and by recognizing that a big share of the problem lies with families and groups, Republicans gained the allegiance of Whites and Asians who lived in secure nuclear-like families. The Republican program both helped White and Asian families and moderately hurt Black and Hispanic families.
The Democrats, to hold their clients, Blacks and Hispanics, did this: They made sure people with good jobs, businesses, and professions, who sent their children to private schools, paid double. Democrats blocked pay-back systems and blocked support for religious schools. Democrats tried to funnel money into bad schools. Democrats tried to get schools supported not primarily at the local level but at the state level or national level so financial support between schools is more equal. Democrats supported athletic programs, which tend to be strong at academically bad schools. Democrats supported programs that could be set up in bad schools such as in math, science, computers, art, and vocational training. Democrats tried to make sure bad districts got a big share of alternative schools and make sure Black, Hispanic, and immigrant children attended those schools. Democrats set up provisions so poor families could send their children to good schools in other districts, so Black and Hispanic families could send their children to White and Asian schools. Democrats tried to turn around the voucher system so Black families could use the vouchers to send their children to good non-Black schools. By trying to make sure that White and Asian families pay twice, and that a good share of money goes to Blacks and Hispanics, Democrats both hold back White and Asian families and give a big bonus to Black and Hispanic families with the money that they get from White and Asian families.
Democrats and their clients say: Prejudice by affluent secure families, by Whites and Asians, against poor insecure families, Blacks and Hispanics, causes all problems and nothing else causes the problems. Only a complete reversal of heart by Whites and Asians can cure any problems. Blacks and Hispanics cannot cure the problems themselves on their own but need Whites and Asians to cure the problems for them. Whites and Asians need to cure the problems by giving money to the local experts who know how to use the money best, the Black and Hispanic leaders. Any possible fault in Blacks and Hispanics come entirely and only from prejudice by Whites and Asians. White and Asians have to pay for change. Children in Republican White and Asian nuclear families learn only hidden selfishness and prejudice. In contrast, children in alternative families learn all the good attitudes that they need and they learn only good attitudes. They never learn any bad attitudes. Black and Hispanic families can do nothing to go forward as long as Whites and Asians are prejudiced. All the Blacks and Hispanics can do is hold and hope. Whites and Asians deliberately withhold good jobs from Blacks and Hispanics and deliberately withhold funding for Black and Hispanics schools. If there are any bad alternative families and bad schools, the lack of jobs causes them, and only that causes them – and prejudice causes the lack of jobs. Whites and Asians deliberately misunderstand us and deliberately mislabel our alternative families as bad, as causing bad attitude and bad behavior in schools. Any bad alternative families and any bad attitude would go away instantly if Blacks and Hispanics had good jobs and had the money to invest in good schools. If Whites and Asians gave their fare share and made sure all public schools were properly funded, then all schools would be good. There would be no bad attitudes in schools, and the few alternative families with bad attitudes would change right away. Blacks and Hispanics wish to add to add programs for character building and modern skills in classrooms but the White and Asian people with good jobs won’t pay for it and we can’t afford it. If outsiders wish us to do extra things in the classroom, then let them pay for classrooms to do that. To end prejudice, and to get equal funding, would end all problems, but Whites and Asians won’t do that because they need to keep our families down and our schools down.
By denying any problem lies with the families and attitudes of the groups around bad schools, Blacks and Hispanics, by saying any problem lies entirely in lack of funding and in prejudice, and by laying ALL the blame for lack of funding on selfish Whites and Asians with contrived nuclear families, Democrats gained the allegiance of Blacks and Hispanics but alienated Whites and Asians. Democrats modestly helped Blacks and Hispanics and modestly hurt Whites and Asians.
This system amounts to segregated schools. The segregation is not enforced by law but rather by where parents choose to live and have to live. It is enforced as much by Blacks choosing to live with Blacks, and by Hispanics choosing to live with Hispanics, as by Whites and Asians choosing to live with Whites and Asians. It is enforced by price differences between houses in good school districts versus housed in bad schools districts.
Mike says: Schools cannot be de-segregated until all schools can guarantee that students with a good attitude will get a decent education. When local schools are good enough, then the ethnicity of the students there won’t matter. Whites and Asians will send their children to schools with Blacks and Hispanics as long as their children definitely can get a good education and will not be harassed. Whites and Asians will accept Black and Hispanic students if those students come in already with good attitude, do not cause trouble during adjustment, and do not inhibit the academic quality of the school. Not all students do have a good attitude and so not all can get a good education. Not all schools can be made fully equal. The private schools of upper middle class and upper class people will always be better, but that fact does not undermine what I say. With tools such as computers, nearly all schools could offer a good enough education and could prove the results on national tests and in job performance. Money makes a difference but the real issue is the attitudes of parents, families, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, and social groups. Until parents and families learn to see education in much the same way that middle class White and Asian families see it, and so make every local school at least adequate, differences will remain and the schools will be segregated.
Not much has changed. Schools are still divided into two camps. Bad schools are not better. Formerly good schools still get invaded by bad students and bad families. Secure White and Asian families sustain enclaves in expensive neighborhoods and by sending their children to private schools. Where I live in Alabama, the state system had to take over the systems in several local districts, where students are overwhelmingly Black, most notably in Montgomery, because of wretched performance. Despite all the schemes, it is unlikely these bad schools that were taken over will improve or will stay better for long. White and Asian parents still pay double and are angry about it. Republicans still say, with empirical evidence on their side, that “Good families make good students and good schools; good families are mostly nuclear, White, and Asian. Bad families make bad students and bad schools; bad families are mostly alternative and Black.” Black families still blame Whites and Asians for not giving them enough money and for the bad quality of families and schools.
Dividing into hostile groups, and having the political parties exploit this situation, has costs beyond the obvious. (1) Attitudes don’t change. (2) Bad understanding of education remains bad. (3) People with bad jobs or no jobs remain dependant on secure people, and some ethnic groups remain dependant on other ethnic groups. Nothing increases hostility like feeling dependant or feeling that another group wants you to pay for them. (4) The costs of housing and education in good school districts rose much faster than inflation and faster than increases in salary. Secure people did end up paying more but not to help their neighbors. (5) The increase in costs of housing and education in good districts drove up the cost of housing in other districts. All housing costs went up. Now the children of secure people pay more, and everybody pays more. (6) Alternative families stay alternative. (7) Bad alternative families stay bad and make other families bad. (8) The idea that some ethnic groups have many bad alternative families, and so are bad groups, gets reinforced. (9) In turn, the idea that some ethnic groups have only bad families and are bad groups, makes secure people unwilling to help groups in bad school districts. (10) Costs went up for everybody faster than earnings, not only the costs of education but also housing and transportation, at least. (11) Distortion in the housing and transportation markets, and general rising costs, led to other distorted markets, in particular financial markets. That led to other problems that are too far afield for here.
America would be better off, and secure families in their neighborhoods would be better off, if we could make almost every local school good enough.
We can’t wait for the economy magically to make good jobs for everybody, including all the people who now can’t read or write, and all the people who are not smart enough. We can’t wait for everybody to have good jobs and thereby to live only in good families with good attitudes about school, and so who make good schools. People have to act before then. Local people have to act even if other people don’t give money. Local people have to build good schools with local resources. Especially now with low-cost technology aids to education, we cannot look to money first to solve the problem of bad schools. We should not look to money to make good families and good groups with good attitudes about education. We should not look to classrooms to do work on attitude that can be done only by families. We should not think that adding extra money to classrooms would alone do the job. We should not look to secure families to pay more to try to make good schools in bad school districts without first seeing a big change in local attitude and schools.
If attitude should change, and attitude resides in families, we have to consider the role that families play, especially alternative families, bad families, bad alternative families and bad satellite pseudo-nuclear families. If they have to be changed to change attitude, but bad families cannot be changed, somebody has to say so, and somebody has to “think outside the box”. It might be necessary to make schools that exclude bad students quickly.
I don’t know how to make attitude shift. If attitude depends on family type, I don’t know how to make sure enough alternative families are good families and that they have a good attitude about education. I think those changes can come only from within groups at the hands of good families and good leaders.
# Conclusion for Family and Politics.
-Please see small section above called “Broad and Narrow” by searching +++++. Then return here by searching =====.
Really the following are all fights over how to get and hold clients so as to get and hold power: (a) the fight over what are the only true family values, (b) the fight over which families are the only true representatives of the only true family values, (c) claims that our side has true families while the other side has only artificial families and bad families, (d) accusations that the other side does not have real family values, (e) and accusations that the values, acts, families, and social groups, of the other side, hurt the state. The following are tools in fights and in getting and holding clients: (1) using the state to promote our values and our families, and (2) using the state to discredit their values and harm their families.
Republicans wish as clients the people who can afford to live in TV-like nuclear families, or seek to live that way, such as secure working class and middle class Whites, East Asian, South Asians, and some Hispanics. Republicans ease the life of their clients and Republicans create hardship against families that can’t afford to live that way so the other people will not compete with Republican clients. Republicans stress how bad alternative families are. In contrast, Democrats give a moral rationale to people who often cannot live in TV-style nuclear families, and have to live in alternative families, or who wish to live in alternative families, such as many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. Democrats extol the alternative family. This appeal works even though a particular family lives close to the TV ideal right now as long as that family knows many of its kin, and many fellows in its group, still do live in alternative families, and this family knows that it might have to live as an alternative family if times get tough. Black and Hispanic nuclear-like families still support Democrats because they know they will have to move in with kin if father loses his job, and know that other kin might move in with them anytime. Democrats assure their clients that Republican-style nuclear families-and-people won’t get favored treatment, and Democratic clients will be able to gain on Republican-style nuclear families someday.
Much of what Republicans and Democrats say and do, do not in fact help families but hurt families and hurt the state over the long run. Using taxes, tax breaks, programs, the legal system, and the military can be political fun in the short run but hurtful in the long run.
-You have to decide: what is a family distinct from other groupings; what is a good or bad family; why do families live as nuclear families or alternative families; how do good or bad families get that way and stay that way; how do we help good families without turning them bad and without enabling bad families and groups; how do we help good nuclear families without turning them bad and without enabling bad nuclear families and bad groups; how do we help good alternative families without turning them bad or enabling bad alternative families and bad groups; what should be relations of good families and the state; what the state should do, if anything, to help some families in trouble; which families the state should help first and how much; whether we should help other groups, such as wounded soldiers, even before we give all the help that families need; how much in resources should be reserved for helping other groups after we help families; and the “why” for all of it. You have to tell politicians you are tired of arguments that use the family when the disputants don’t really care much about the family.