A conservative-progressive alliance around the protection of working families?

Excerpted from Claire Snyder-Hall in Tikkun :

“What is their positive agenda? Most obviously, Christian conservatives are pro-family. While this term often stands in for “anti-gay,” when you look at some of the non-political evangelical websites, you start to see the positive vision they embrace. For example, consider the conservative women’s site, called truewoman.com. This site immediately grabbed my attention, since I have published on the topic of wifely submission, a very strong movement among conservative Christian women.

Advocates of wifely submission are easy to make fun of, but I believe we need to resist knee-jerk feminism and consider the lifestyle from the perspective of its participants. People who are into the wifely submission lifestyle want to be in a relationship where the man takes the lead, and the woman lovingly supports his leadership. A lot of women claim this approach has radically transformed their marriages for the better by providing an alternative to power-struggles and fighting, which apparently plague many heterosexual relationships. Advocates of this approach valorize traditional gender roles and usually believe that feminism has played a negative role in denigrating the value of homemaking.

A traditionally gendered relationship offers many benefits to those who desire it. First, in relationships with a clear sexual division of labor, women are not responsible for doing every single thing — as is a common lament of heterosexual married women today. Wives are only responsible for the traditionally feminine roles, so husbands actually have to share the burden of running a household. Second, the ideology of wifely submission requires women to prioritize their conjugal relationship, instead of letting their children’s needs and desires completely dominate the household, which also often seems to be the case these days. Third, advocates claim that the dance of dominance and submission helps keep romance alive.

Regardless of what you think about this particular lifestyle choice, it seems to me that its advocates would benefit from economic policies that make things easier for working people. Wouldn’t it be great if a family could actually get by on one income? Wouldn’t it help conservative families to have guaranteed health care, job protection, reliable pensions, and a safety net strong enough to catch them if they fall?

Conservative Christians tend to support the Republican Party, yet the GOP systematically opposes economic policies designed to help families. Republican elites are currently attempting to slash government spending, which means cutting the jobs associated with government spending, both direct and indirect. They claim they are motivated by the desire to cut the deficit, yet they advocated (and succeeded in getting with Obama’s help) a massive tax cut for the extremely wealthy, so they are very clearly not really concerned about the deficit. And of course there’s the attempt to repeal “Obamacare.”

Why do pro-family advocates support the party that seems to want to inflict the most pain possible on ordinary working people and their families?

I may be a hopeless idealist, but I would like to see a new alliance between those who aspire to enact the conservative vision of the family and progressives who are concerned about working people. “

1 Comment A conservative-progressive alliance around the protection of working families?

  1. Avatarkatie

    she would do well to read the old phil agre/red rock eater analysis of right-side character and group traits.

    chris hedges has done some work here, and there are any number of psychological and sociological studies defining conservative/traditional and/or libertarian group boundaries. what’s the matter with Kansas, and a lot of Paul Craig Roberts political thoughts come to mind.

    while the perpetuation of conservative belief systems is primarily by childhood training and example, the final divide or crossover can occur later–and will be often based on simple personality preferences.

    Most of the studies i’ve read, say the primary defining conservative traits are founded in in-group/out-group rancor and exclusion, xenophobia of many kinds, and externalization of personal challenges or blocks: it is always the fault of someone else, or some external group or institution. There is usually a disinclination for conservatives to consider how they may contribute or exacerbate or create the problem. And their analyses start from unstated assumptions about the nature of truth and reality, so their conclusions are always going to be self-justifying.

    that does not mean they are always wrong, just that they don’t have an intellectual mechanism for looking at their own place in the larger scheme and the underlying dynamics.

    and i think her wan and wistful hope for a new alliance, is, on the other hand, an absolutely self-identifying “liberal” personality trait and tenet of the liberal belief system.

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