It's About Far More Than Politics

Joseph Backholm is senior fellow for Biblical worldview and strategic engagement at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in WORLD Magazine on June 18, 2024.

Trump and Biden supporters value marriage and family differently 

While much of the focus in the upcoming rematch between President Trump and President Biden will be on personality, the difference in their voters is not superficial. A poll from Pew Research Center found only a minority of Americans, 39 percent, agree with the statement “society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority.” This is a sobering look into the worldview of America today, but these results are consistent with declining birth and marriage rates that have been observed for decades.

In 2020, the general fertility rate in the United States dropped to a record low and the marriage rate in the United States has declined 35 percent since 1980. Meanwhile cohabitation has become the new normal, and 59 percent of adults aged 18-44 have cohabited at some point.

As you would expect, the cultural change in attitudes has had real social consequences. Today, only 65 percent of American children live with both their married parents. In the 1960s, 90 percent did. This change matters greatly because children who do not live with both married parents are more likely to suffer academicallypsychologicallysocially, and economically.

The apparent indifference to marriage and children is troubling, but not all Americans are equally indifferent to the value of the nuclear family. It turns out a person’s politics have a lot to do with how important they think marriage and family is. Or it may be more accurate to say that how a person thinks about marriage and family has a big impact on their politics.

The survey found only 19 percent of Biden supporters agreed that “society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority” while 59 percent of Trump supports do. While those categories are imperfect, and both numbers are too low, the difference is meaningful. The general indifference on the left to the importance of the nuclear family has long been visible in their political priorities. No-fault divorce, abortion, the redefinition of marriage, the redefinition of sex, drag queens, and the effort to destigmatize prostitution are all consistent with the worldview that prioritizes self-expression and personal happiness above all else.

Anyone who places a high value on personal comfort and short-term happiness will necessarily devalue marriage and children. Though worth it, spouses and children are nothing if not ongoing threats to short-term comfort and self-indulgence.

So, it makes sense that so many of the left’s political priorities are not only indifferent to the impact on children but lead to having fewer of them in the first place. The most obvious example is abortion, which exists to remove babies from the world. While the redefinition of marriage and the mainstreaming of same-sex relationships may not be done for the purpose of creating genetic dead ends, that is the undeniable result. Similarly, the gender revolution is sterilizing a growing number of people—even children—and we’re supposed to applaud. Beyond that, young people are repeatedly told not to bring children into the world because the earth can’t handle their carbon footprint. When it comes to progressive values and social policy, all roads lead to fewer babies.

This may seem like merely a choice in the short-term, but as countries like China, Japan, and Italy are now experiencing, a societal decision to value personal comfort over babies creates a civilizational crisis sooner than later. A civilization with no babies is a civilization with no future. This is the practical reality.

Marriage and children aren’t God’s plan for every individual, but it is God’s plan for humanity. Any attempt to build a stable, prosperous society on a different foundation is destined to fail. If you do not think a healthy society depends upon strong families, you are likely to think a healthy society depends on a strong government that will protect the planet and everyone’s feelings. These are very different worldviews that will create very different futures. Now that these sides are identifying themselves more clearly, the scale of our challenge comes into clearer view.