The nuclear family is comprised of one husband, one wife and two kids—idyllically one son and one daughter. The family must be white, heterosexual, upper-middle class and thin. These are no written rules or guidelines on how to build a family, but when the word “family” is spoken, more often than not this is the image that comes to your head. Even Google seems to agree to this ideal: type ‘family’ into the “Google Images” search bar, no descriptors or specifics, and that perfect family of four consumes the screen.
What does this have to do with the Republicans? Well, the party’s obsession with the phrase “family values” refers to this nuclear family ideal, although you’ll have a rather hard time getting them to admit it. Conservatives generally refer to these beloved values in vague terms, rarely ever specifying their characteristics or applications. According to GOP.com, a website paid for by the Republican National Committee, family values is the idea that “the family is the bedrock of our nation. When American families flourish, so too does our country. Our Party’s economic and social policies, including tax reform, education, health care, and the sanctity of life, should always promote and strengthen that most sacred bond.”
This still tells me next to nothing, but I imagine the point here is to emphasize the importance of and the care for American families in the society (if only that’s what they really did). That means Republicans are concerned about families, great! Well, actually, only families that fall into the description of a nuclear, or as they put it, traditional family that count. Okay, not so great.
As the year comes to a close and 2018 is on its way, the idea of the nuclear family is becoming more and more obsolete. Two-parent households still makes up for the majority of all family units, according to the 2016 census, staying at 69 percent, but that’s a 24-percent drop from the proportion of 1950, 93 percent. Simultaneously, single-mother households nearly tripled, rising from 8 percent to 23 percent, and multi-generational households are at 16 percent compared to 12 percent in 1950. Those with LGBT parents, as well as single fathers, make up about 3 percent of American families. I would go as far to argue that a household without children can still be considered, while not legally, a family. There is diversity of family types that conservative Republicans continue to ignore and is only one part of the hypocrisy of their party.
Conservatives have implicated a lot of factors into such a short phrase of “family values.” While the poorly explained, surface-level definition of the term is preserving the heterosexual two-parent household, it implies support for Christian ideals and rejection of those who oppose. Anything from divorce to pre-marital sex, to homosexuality and having out-of-wedlock children are against the Republicans’ family values. You must have pro-life beliefs, promote hard work, certainly don’t rely on government handouts, be chivalrous and have respect for elders. (Though all of this just sounds like plain Christianity, call it what you will, I suppose). Still, “family values” is a powerfully provocative phrase.
While all of these aren’t inherently bad in concept, except for the condemnation of homosexuality, in practice, conservatives have repeatedly fallen short of actually upholding the protocol they preach. The most recent and horrific example is the case of the Republican Judge Roy Moore.
After the firing of Harvey Weinstein over allegations of sexual assault, there has been an unprecedented amount of similar accusations coming forth, a shocking revelation to many men but not so much for women as such problems are daily fear and ever-present worry for females. From newscasters to directors to politicians, these powerful men are finally exposed of their repulsive actions. No more privilege or cover-up, even for the most prestigious and high-profile ones: in the midst of his race for Alabama senate, Roy Moore was accused of pursuing relationships and initiating sexual encounters with underage girls, whose age ranged from fourteen to eighteen, while he was thirty-two years old at the time. A total of nine women have come forward recently, all of whom he denies having sexual encounters with, claiming to not even know any of them.
Initially, these accusations seemed to have effectively put an end to his campaign—rationally it should have been. But as time passes, the so-called pro-family-value Republican party members have continued to endorse the alleged pedophile, including Trump himself and the Republican National Committee (remember the ones who said that families are a “sacred bond”). CBS News reported recent polls with Roy Moore leading in the race at 45 percent versus his Democratic opponent’s 43 percent. Another poll among Republican voters in Alabama claims that 71 percent of them think the allegations are false.
It would be easy to claim that conservative Republicans are simply hypocrites, which I think they are, and move on, but that solves nothing and certainly doesn’t provide any answers. If you can’t find it in yourself to ask why this is happening, it’s time to be a little more critical of what is going on around you. In all honesty, part of myself is not surprised by the continued support for Moore. Repeatedly, conservatives have shown that there is no line not to be crossed, or if there is one, I’m afraid of how low the country is going to have to sink to reach it.
On October 7, 2016, the “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked. It revealed a recording of a conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush in 2005 that was filled with Trump’s infamous degrading comments about women. That should have been an effective end of his campaign but sadly, it was not. According to the same CBS polls that shows continuing support for Moore, Trump has a ninety-six percent approval rating at the moment. See the pattern?
While there are certainly other factors involved, perhaps racial and cultural anxiety, it’s obvious that these “family values” supporters are willing to look over many awful things in the name of politics. It seems that conservatives would rather have sexual predators running the country than allow liberal ideals to gain strength. It’s hypocritical, dishonest, corrupt and frankly disgusting, and ironically, those are the exact reasons why Republicans and some Democrats hated Hillary so much. It’s a divisive time in America and for both liberals and conservatives, it’s more necessary now than ever to question what it is you truly believe in and hope for the country, because if a pedophile is elected into the Senate, this country is truly facing some serious moral failings.