Social Divergence and Fading “Nuclear Family” Talk


Do school children still learn about the “nuclear family”?  I recall its being a significant topic of conversation in my schooling, but that was an era when the culture was still pushing back on the march of “no-fault divorce.”  It was also an era of fear about nuclear war with the now-defunct U.S.S.R., so maybe it was the seeming pun that made the lessons stick.

Forgive me this short post if my thoughts aren’t fully formed, but it’s seeming to me that the two senses of “nuclear” most heard during the 1980s — one positive and constructive and the other terrifying — are connected in a profound way.  A number of tangentially connected topics are spinning around, so I’ll pluck a few out of the mix:

  • Ireland has approved same-sex marriage in its constitution by popular vote.  The simplistic take-away will be the basic fact of the vote results, and the immediate consequences will be borne by people who maintain their traditionalist view and attempt to continue to live by it, particularly with respect to the Catholic Church.  But there are two tidbits in the coverage that I think may prove more significant, in the long run, even if the general public never recognizes them:
    • Arguments about the purpose of marriage in our society continue to be dismissed with the simple insistence that the biological differences between men and women are just being used as an excuse to belittle the relationships of gay couples.
    • Around 40% of voters in Ireland have no political party to which to turn for support in their traditionalist views.  That is, the political elite either genuinely differs from the population in a profound way or people in political life fear the consequences of acknowledging traditionalist beliefs.
  • Libertarians (including the infamous Koch Brothers) tend to support same-sex marriage, although the march of the left-wing fascists through the doors Christian florists, bakeries, and pizza parlors is beginning to awaken some true libertarians to the voices they previously denied hearing within the Trojan Horse of same-sex marriage.  (The latest episode, for your amusement, is the tale of the Christian jeweler who actually made engagement rings for a lesbian couple and was bullied into returning their money when the pair found out he supports traditional marriage.)

I’ve long held that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is ultimately an inhumane political philosophy, inasmuch as it is social conservatism that creates the foundation for opportunity that makes fiscal conservatism part of a complete approach to society without discarding bedrock principles like the Golden Rule and our mutual responsibility for each other.  In other words, a civic environment of liberty maintains a level playing field and enables our society to bring forth its greatest talents, no matter the circumstances of their birth, but only if we maintain social expectations that foster personal responsibility and a healthy upbringing and sense of security.

Marriage, in this regard, is critical, as Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven explain on National Review Online:

In a report last year entitled “Saving Horatio Alger,” which focused on social mobility and class in America, Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution discovered that the likelihood of a child raised by parents born into the lowest income quintile moving to the top quintile by the age 40 was a disastrous 3 percent. Worse, 50 percent of those children stay stuck in the bottom quintile. And the outlook for the children of those marriage-less children is equally stark. …

But Reeves discovered a silver lining while crunching the data: Those children born in the lowest quintile to parents who were married and stayed married had only a 19 percent chance of remaining in the bottom income group.

Reeve’s study revealed that this social-mobility advantage applied not just to the lower class: The middle class was impacted, too. The study revealed that children born into the middle class have a mere 11 percent chance of ending up in the bottom economic quintile with married parents, but that number rises to 38 percent if their parents are never married.

According to the study, it’s not just the marriage of one’s own parents that makes the difference, but social expectations all around.  With our national obsession with race flowing freely once again, this paragraph should not be lost in the mix:

… it turns out that once you control for the proportion of single parents in an area, the correlation between social mobility and race disappears.

What makes the nuclear family powerful is its utility as a building block for society.  If the forces that cause families to form and stay together are strong, then grand structures of hope, freedom, and innovation can be built.

What makes the nuclear bomb terrifying is the force unleashed when the nucleus is broken apart.  When the blast is finished, what remains between people on opposite sides of the crater is a barren, devastated land too radioactive to support life.

When it comes to the slow-motion explosion of our cultural nucleus, the terrain we’re destroying is precisely that which must be crossed to move from struggle to success.  The economic elite may assume that the structure atop which they sit will remain, and the political elite may see opportunity in its role transferring some small sliver of wealth from the top to the bottom, but that arrangement won’t last.

As with electricity, the creative energy and spiritual stability of our civilization is in its motion.

  • left-wing fascist

    It’s not often you refer to your benefactors, the “infamous” Koch bros. Did you receive their permission? You’ve been suppressing comments lately; what would your “libertarian” backers think of that?

    You make a pretty good case for gay marriage, I’m sure unintentionally: “Those children born in the lowest quintile to parents who were married
    and stayed married had only a 19 percent chance of remaining in the
    bottom income group.”

    If you want to stay away from the “national obsession with race” lay off the Fox News for a while and see what’s it’s really like out there.

  • D. S. Crockett

    We can only hope the nation will swing right in 2016 because the political and cultural torment inflicted by the left for the past 6 + years has been unbearable.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Got some bad news for ya, Davy … you better get used to saying “President Hillary” cuz simple Electoral College math shows that we are prolly *never* gonna have another Republican POTUS

      The reason: with the recent exception of Arkansas, once a State votes blue it stays that way permanently. Like California — the State that gave us Nixon & Reagan. It first voted blue in 1992 and has been a ‘safe’ Dem vote ever since

      Two other states that used to reliably red have now voted blue in the past two elections: FL & OH

      Ohio is particularly painful for me personally — I was born there. No Republican has *ever* won without carrying Ohio. It was supposed to be one of the “swing” States in ’12 … but Obozo carried it by FIVE full points — a fricken landslide in Presidential voting terms

      Maybe you should move back to Texas. It is still red AND has a prospering economy — and no doubt those two facts are not a mere coinkydink ☺

  • ShannonEntropy

    I just do not understand Justin’s linking of gay marriage with the social scourge of the single mother. Gay people should have the right to be just as miserable as we heterosexual married couples
    (( just kidding, dear !! )). Or at least, have the right to the same tax & estate benefits married people get

    Let’s save our ire for the “sore winner” scorched-earth policy that the LGBT community insists on inflicting on anyone who disagrees with their POV — like that jeweler article link demonstrates

    … but I would point out that this is nothing new — it is only garnering more publicity now and has been ratcheted up a few notches in intensity. When I was on the faculty of Brown — I retired in ’06 — we had a saying =►

    If you don’t like what someone has to say, don’t let them say it !!

  • Mike678

    No problem. When the Sierra hits the fan, watch the political pendulum swing right as people realize that short-sighted progressive causes have bankrupted and weakened the US to a point of irrelevancy.

  • D. S. Crockett

    The left of the Dumbocrat party will assure another Hillary defeat in 2016 primaries. Bernie Sanders is now playing John the Baptist awaiting Martin O’Malley, the Messiah. Let’s hope the left pulls it off because the nation cannot possibly elect another leftist in 2016 unless the Repubs nominate another RINO candidate, which is entirely possible.

  • D. S. Crockett

    ShannonEntropy: True, the lefties have used this strategy successfully over the years with the Repubs, as usual, asleep. In 2016, we need a nominee who is a true believer and who can articulate their scheme in plain everyday language. No holds barred. Let her rip. George Pataki set the tone the other day, but he may not be acceptable to the base. I liked his language, however. Ted Cruze may be such a candidate because he is smart and articulate. I stress the latter, can we finally have a Repub nominee who articulates a positive vision for America and who exposes the Dumocrats for what they are, big government populist who will say or do anything to stay in power, the country be damned?

    • ShannonEntropy

      I have already explained why we will never again have a Repub POTUS … but here is the underlying reason =►

      Trve story …. Yours Truly was born & raised in Cleveland Ohio. There were so few Hispanic folks there in the 60’s that my high school didn’t even offer Spanish courses

      Today, Hispanics are over 10% of the population … and growing larger every day. To not be bi-lingual in Cleveland now puts you at a disadvantage. If you wish to disagree with this opinion in English, press one

      • Warrington Faust

        I’d like to offer this to back Ms. Coulter’s position on the Kennedy legislation of 1965. When I dealt with the immigration service (then the “INS”) in the late 80’s the effect of this act was well known and acknowledged. The INS people referred to it as the “Western Hemisphere Preference Act”. I am not sure if this was it’s official name, but it certainly clarified the purpose.

  • Tea Party #1

    I love watching you baggers soil yourselves over the thought of Hillary in the White House. I bet you thought thinks could only get better after Barry was re-elected…or was he? I’ll bet some of you still believe Karl Rove!