A few days ago, Don Arthur drew my attention to the latest ‘rebuild the busted GOP from the Ground Up’ tome, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam‘s Grand New Party: How Republicans can Win the Working Class and Save The American Dream. I spent today treating Blackwell’s as a library and read about half of it (you’ll be pleased to note that I did, in expiation of my sins, spend a considerable sum on other books). This book is immensely irritating. I was going to write a review, but can’t in good faith do so since I’ve only read half the sucker. I can, however, quote someone else’s review – one with which I substantially agree. Libertarian feminist Kerry Howley nails why I found the half I read so irritating:
I don’t think I am overstating the R&R position when I say that my friends would like to return us to a more traditional and less pluralistic concept of family life. Through social and tax policy, they would privilege heterosexual two-parent families, fund marriage promotion programs, encourage the stigmatization of single parenthood, subsidize motherhood among married women, increase taxes on the childless, and so on. In short, they would structure incentives to encourage women to use their bodies in the one way most appealing to social conservatives.
This position is not wholly without statistical motivation. Children do better on average, along a variety of dimensions and across all income groups, when raised by both of their biological parents. Poor children are more likely to be born out of wedlock, and those that are born to married parents are more likely to see their parents divorce later. But as women have spent some time trying to establish, they are in fact distinct from children. The class of women is also conceptually distinct from the class of mothers; while most, but not all, women will become mothers within their lifetimes, the years spent actively caring for small children will comprise only a small percentage of her total lifespan. Even if it were possible to improve the lives of children by enforcing reactionary gender norms, it would be wrong.
Memo to conservative social engineers: using free citizens as a means to achieve your preferred ends is immoral. No ifs or buts about it. It was immoral when ‘progressives’ did it in pursuance of their grand vision of the common good and group rights. It’s just as immoral when you do it in the name of helping teh kiddies.