Someone must have foreordained today as "Brad Wilcox's Wake-Up Call about Middle America's Crisis" Day.
Not only did Brad write on Platform today about his new study on marriage breakdown in the middle class, he was interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO and his study on middle class marriage breakdown was the subject of Rich Lowry's column. In addition John McCormack featured Lowry's take on the study at Today's Standard. I covered the issue here. We all have Ross Douthat to thank for drawing attention to this early in the week.
Here's a recap of some of the more salient clips from today:
- Wilcox on Platform: "Up until the 1970s, marriage had a strong hold over both Middle and upscale America. But over the last four decades, dramatic changes in the economic, cultural, and civic fabric of the United States have eroded the strength of Middle American ties to marriage; by contrast, the ties that upscale Americans enjoy to marriage have remained resilient in the face of these changes."
- Wilcox in Lopez's NRO interview: "[W]e are witnessing a striking reversal in American life where highly educated Americans are more likely to be connected to the religious and moral sources of a strong marriage culture than their fellow citizens from middle America...Indeed, the biggest marriage story among ordinary Americans is that cohabitation is mounting a major challenge to marriage as the preferred site for childbearing and co-residence in Middle America...This is disturbing because children and cohabitation do not mix. Children born to cohabiting parents are at least twice as likely to see their parents break up before they turn five, and they are much more likely to suffer educational and emotional problems, compared to children born into married homes."
- Lowry: "All of this points to a slow-motion social and economic evisceration of a swath of Middle America...At the moment, American politics offers two separate, distinct ways not to address these issues: Either the brain-dead populism of the Left that blames it all on trade and the decline of unions, or the brain-dead populism of the Right that extols the working class without taking serious note of its agony. We’ll have to do better: There’s a crisis in the middle."
- McCormack sums up the issue by quoting Indiana congressman Mike Pence: "'You would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family continues to collapse.' This new study seems to prove Pence's point: Where the family fails, the state grows."
The left is philosophically incapable of addressing this issue. The options available to conservatives aren't great, but they should be thinking hard about how we confront this problem. It's real, it's severe, and nothing will have a greater effect on inequality between the rich and everyone else a generation from now.