Mike Huckabee’s cultural reactionarism isn’t the solution for America, liberty is

Mike Huckabee has joined a group called World Congress of Families (are they Workers too?) in opposing “sexual radicals” who previously opposed their upcoming conference in Australia. Unclear if the group also opposes long-haired hippie music, flowers, and Woodstock.

The letter signed by Huckabee and dozens of other theocrats and social reactionaries, including former Texas Congressman and terrible dancer Tom DeLay, claims to support the “international pro-family movement”. They of course specifically define the “natural family” as “a man and women united by faith and tradition, raising their children in a loving environment.” They don’t say if the combination of singular “man” and plural “women” is an intentional endorsement of polygamy or an unintentional one, nor if non-religious or childless couples count as families. They would probably grudgingly admit they are, as long as the genders were of the approved variety.

The end of the letter illuminates the real problem with Huckabee & Co’s worldview (and subsequent politics):

The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past. Like all social experiments that attempt to create a “new man,” these are doomed to failure.

You know what’s actually doomed to failure? Extreme cultural conservatism (really, reactionarism) by definition. An ideology based on preserving the culture of the past by any means necessary has an inherent shelf-life of one, maybe two generations. You didn’t grow up in the same society as your parents. Your kids won’t grow up in the same society as you. They therefore have no incentive to save it, and political trends over the last 50 years prove they haven’t before and won’t now.

Beyond that, what is so terrible about a society that is “unrecognizable to generations past”? The past was pretty terrible. While society has been allegedly rotting at the core from the destruction of the “family” (strictly defined) and all of us turning into what 60 or 70 years ago would be seen as radical libertines, crime has gone down, life expectancy up, poverty down, abortion down, teen pregnancy down, and on and on. Nearly everything about modern life (outside of microeconomic indicators) has improved dramatically with the decline of the family.

This is not to say that the family is the problem and we should destroy it, of course. Quite the opposite. I happen to love my family, which just so happens to fit most of Huckabee’s strict definition, and it has been an edifying and civilizing force in my life and many others. But that strict definition clearly isn’t necessary for the salvation of the republic and Western society.

What is necessary, though, is liberty. Huckabee and his theocratic brethren seek to enforce their vision of society, terminal as it may be, through government regulation, via same-sex marriage bans, adoption restrictions, and other “pro-family” policies. Young voters, even young Republicans, don’t share this statist approach to culture, primarily because they’ve grown up in an already rapidly evolving culture that isn’t as bad as the bogeyman puppeteers portray.

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