The Politics of Family Destruction/SENATOR Hardiman/PBS - 11/9/02
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Sat Nov 9 13:57:49 EST 2002
subject: The Politics of Family Destruction/PBS/SENATOR Hardiman - 11/9/02
from: Smart Marriages®
More "politicizing" of the issue??
There have been numberous replies to the McManus piece from both sides of
the aisle - things like "Bravo to Mike" or "Mike is such a dunderhead".
However, the observation worth sharing is one expressed by several of you
that, in effect: Anything on which the government spends billions of our
tax dollars is already a "political" issue. The government does spend
billions on the fallout of the breakdown of marriage - on supporting single
parents and their children. There is a battle raging among our elected
officials about whether to allocate a small fraction of the welfare billions
to prevention, marriage education, and marriage strengthening efforts. We,
on this list, have expertise about what is available - the programs,
strategies and research - and as good citizens, both Democrats and
Republicans, it is our job to inform that debate.
And here is yet another position paper about the politics of marriage and
family breakdown. Over a dozen of you have sent this one to me - so it's
making the rounds. It's too long for many of your mailboxes, so I'll
include a clip and the url so that those who are interested can read the
And, REMEMBER, on Thursday night, Nov 14th the PBS Frontline special, "Let's
Get Married", airs and the debate will intensify. Numerous articles and
commentaries stimulated by the mere anticipation of the show are in the
works. I don't know of anyone who has had a sneak preview, so we don't know
what kind of spin to expect but whatever the spin it promises to be
interesting. I have heard that Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Wade Horn, Scott
Stanley, Mike McManus, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and the Smart
Marriages conference (the exhibit hall) - among others - made it through the
editing process. I know they interviewed so many experts, but it's only an
hour show - the editing room floor has to be knee deep. PLEASE SET YOUR
VCRs so you know what we're talking about on this list next week. I think
we should all invite our elected officials over to watch it with us.
Popcorn and the politics of marriage!
AND SPEAKING OF ELECTED OFFICIALS, Mayor Bill Hardiman, chair of the Greater
Grand Rapids Community Marriage Policy and frequent speaker at the Smart
Marriages conference, is now STATE SENATOR BILL HARDIMAN! Perhaps we'll see
some marriage strengthening legislation in Michigan. - diane
I would like to alert your list to an important article written by
Stephen Baskerville which is in the November Issue of Crisis Magazine. It
is titled "The Politics of Family Destruction" and can be found online here:
In addition to educating couples of how to have a successful marriage, we
also must educate everyone how society is acting to destroy marriage - for
profit! This article helps to do this.
Crisis magazine, November 2002.
The Politics of Family Destruction
By Stephen Baskerville
Here are the two opening and the four closing paragraphs of the article:
> The debate on the family is becoming increasingly politicized. President
> George W. Bush proposes federal programs to promote marriage and fatherhood
> and to enlist churches. Liberals respond that government does not belong in
> the family but then advocate federal programs of their own.
> Yet the more polarized the issues become the less willing we are to look at
> the hard politics of the family crisis. Family policy is still discussed in
> terms set by therapists and social scientists: the rate of divorce and unwed
> motherhood, the level of poverty, the impact on children, the social costs.
> As if we don¹t know.
. . . . . . . . . .
> The divorce industry depends on the widespread violation of what most people
> still hold to be the most solemn promise one makes in life. It is no
> coincidence that public officials whose livelihoods depend on encouraging
> citizens to betray their private trust will not hesitate to betray the trust
> conferred on them by the public. Likewise, a society where private citizens
> are encouraged not to honor their commitments is a society that will not
> hold public leaders to their promises. Maggie Gallagher¹s observation that
> marriage has become "the only contract where the law now sides with the
> party who wants to violate it" raises the question of whether we are willing
> to allow our government to be an active party to deceit and faithless
> Our present divorce system is not only unjust but fundamentally dishonest.
> For all the talk of a "divorce culture," it is not clear that most people
> today enter the marriage contract with the intention of breaking it. "If the
> marital vows were changed to ...until I grow tired of you,¹ or ...for a
> period of five years unless I decide otherwise,¹ and the state were willing
> to sanction such an agreement, then divorce would not be such a significant
> event from a moral point of view," attorney Steven L. Varnis writes in
> Society. "But there is no evidence that the content of marital vows or
> marital expectations at the time of marriage has changed." Varnis may be
> only half right, but even so, the point is that the marriage contract has
> become unenforceable and therefore fraudulent. Until this changes, it seems
> pointless and even irresponsible to encourage young people to place their
> trust and their lives in it.
> One may argue that government should not enforce the marriage contract, or
> any contracts for that matter (though the Constitution holds otherwise). But
> I am not aware of anyone who suggests the government should be forcibly
> abrogating contracts, let alone luring citizens into contracts that it then
> tears up. If we truly believe our present divorce policy is appropriate, we
> should at least have the honesty to tell young people up front that marriage
> provides them with no protection. Let us inform them at the time of their
> marriage that even if they remain faithful to their vows, they can lose
> their children, their home, their savings and future earnings, and their
> freedom. Not only will the government afford them no protection; it will
> prosecute them as criminals, though without the due process of law afforded
> to formally accused criminals. And let us then see how many young people are
> willing to start families.
> It is one thing to tolerate divorce, as perhaps we must do in a free
> society. It is another to use the power of the state to impose it on
> unwilling parents and children. When courts stop dispensing justice, they
> must start dispensing injustice. There is no middle ground.
> Stephen Baskerville teaches political science at Howard University and is
> author of Not Peace But a Sword: The Political Theology of the English
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