Polls show that the greatest single indicator of support for Romney is marital status. Married people–especially married people with children–overwhelmingly support the GOP, and singles overwhelmingly support Obama. When I saw this data point, I was reminded of an article I wrote three years ago, in July 2009. Dusting it off, I see that it is a little dated (it talks some about Palin), but in many ways it is just as true today as when I wrote it. The battleground for 2012 is over the future of our children. People who do not have children or who do not live for their children, versus those who do.
The other day, we were watching a rerun of The Last Comic Standing on TV. We were bored, and there was nothing much on but this program and Floyd getting drunk, forgetting what country he was in (again), and deciding to make paella on some Norwegian fjord. Anyway, two comics in a row made “jokes” about babies. The first talked about killing babies, and the next about punching out babies. As a new father, I was so gratified when the guest judge, Steve Schirripa (of The Sopranos), gave both comics the boot. He simply would not have it–jokes about hurting babies caused immediate disqualification.
Yet, he was (and still is) the exception. So often, when we watch comedians on TV, they are anti-child. Sometimes I just want to go up to some of them, take them by the neck, and ask, “Who’s baby do you want to kill or punch out? Mine? Why do you hate my child?” Yet, people at these comedy shows knowingly laugh at these so-called jokes. And the comedians tell these jokes with confidence, because they know they will get laughs.
None of it is funny.
There is a cultural divide in this country, but it is not necessarily east-west, or city-country. It is a divide between people who have families–often sacrificing greatly for them–and people who don’t. The mass media is geared in many ways to cater to those who do not have families–urban professionals who are young (actually, not so young anymore) and single, or who are married but behave as though they were single.
When I first got married, one of my favorite TV programs was Seinfeld, because he and the characters on the show were so much like our friends. Many years later, I watch reruns of Seinfeld and I am nauseated and appalled by what I see, because the narcissism and selfishness displayed by the characters stands in diametric opposition to everything my life is now about. I personally know no one like these people today. But how could I? I am married and have five kids. Sacrifices have to be made. It is simply impossible to be married and have children, and to maintain such a lifestyle and such friendships. Something has to go. This is also why a show like Friends is a fantasy. The characters get married (or pair up) and have kids, but somehow still have each other and the coffee shop. Not in any real world that I know of. You get married and have kids, and your unmarried friends begin to drift away. Coffee becomes something you get in a can at a supermarket. More often than not, instant will have to do.
Many of the people living in the media centers of the US are married but nevertheless maintain a single lifestyle, because they make a lot of money and can afford to do so. There are always nannies, au pairs, or women who do not quite speak English to manage the little ones, and if there is not enough money for help, then there is always abortion. These people sacrifice, as well, but not like people with families do. They give up having a normal life for being on the ball 24/7, and hanging out with their friends, because that is where all the deals are made. And when their 1.5 children graduate from that expensive university and finally come home after all of those years away, they return as strangers, sometimes hostile, but certainly not as family.
To compensate, singles try to define family down, and talk about extended or alternative families. In many cases, what these actually amount to are a group of unrelated singles living together, with one or two stray kids hanging around and being treated not much differently than the furniture.
A family, real family, is despised by people living a single’s lifestyle. Real families remind them of everything that they have put on the altar: caring for others, self-sacrifice, patience for a screaming child, and the willingness to live for others. They gave up all of this so that they can have a career, and so that they could freely live as they wanted. They do not want reminders that there might be something different–or better–out there, because they do not want the guilt. After all, the most important thing in their lives is feeling good about themselves.
In many ways, this describes the battleground for 2012. On the one side, there will be upwardly mobile professionals who despise families (for example, they might delay getting a promised family dog for a year, and then run focus groups to decide if they really have to keep the promise to their kids, and polls to see what breed they should get). And on the other, there will be people with families. Nearly every program being put into place by the current administration is anti-family. The only people who can afford this mess are singles or people who have put their careers first. The ones who will suffer most under all these new plans will be children, who will be deprived of some of the hard-earned income their parents are providing, and parents, who will see the inheritance they struggled to pass on to their kids frittered away. Yet, the media supports this new agenda, and will keep on supporting it, because it is an agenda that suits their lifestyle and culture.
This is also why the media and the political elite want to see Palin destroyed. It is not her words or policies–in many ways she is actually quite moderate. Rather, it was her choice to have children, especially her choice to have a child with Down’s syndrome. This choice strikes at the very core of what they are about. If she had had an abortion, she would have no doubt been offered a cabinet post or an ambassadorship by Obama. The press would adore her. But she did not have an abortion. For this reason, her accomplishments are belittled, and she and her child are mocked.
My wife was in her forties when she had our last child, less than a month ago. By all logic, the child could have had Down’s syndrome or some other birth defect. However, there are no signs of any abnormality at present. While I count us fortunate to have had a child with no obvious problems, I count us nearly as fortunate and blessed merely to have had a child at all. And if the child had had a birth defect, my wife would not have had an abortion, but would have counted herself blessed to have born a child. And if my wife’s life had been in immediate, dire danger, she would not have had an abortion, but would have counted herself blessed to have born a child. This was her choice.
So there is a part of me, when I hear some of the things said about Palin and her baby, which wants to rise up and say, “Who’s baby do you want to kill? Mine? Why do you hate my child?” Because after all, these are just babies who have done very little in their short lives. When these people curse one baby, they curse them all.
And I won’t have anyone curse my child.