2020 federal dossier: Social Issues

This is the third part of a multi-part series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, social issues are worth 8 points.

In days past, I used to consider two aspects when it came to social issues: abortion and gay “marriage.” Unfortunately, the former is still with us and the latter is supposedly “settled law.” (I look at both Roe v. Wade and the Obergefell decision as “settled” in the same vein as the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Ferguson were.) So this became more of an abortion question, although one candidate in this field in particular has a deep concern about other issues regarding families.

This was such a rich vein of information that I didn’t need to ask the candidates anything. All the information is gleaned from their websites and social media. Once again, I am presenting this in a random order.

James DeMartino (Senate)

To be perfectly honest, given the trajectory of his campaign and his opponent, this was more of a response to her in as innocent of platitudes as possible than a real stance on social issues. DeMartino states, “The foundation of a strong civilized society is the family. A strong family unit will reduce the ever-growing request for government services. I will propose and support appropriate legislation that will strengthen families financially and incentivize multi-generational households. We must respect, protect and care for our seniors, our youth and the unborn.  Our children require care, guidance and direction from parents not from government agencies.”

He is right in the sense that the family is a foundation, but what I don’t see is the specifics as to how he would help. To some, the idea of strengthening families financially can mean a tax handout when the better solution to me would be to restore the conditions where Mom could stay home with the kids and not be forced to work for the family to survive financially. This would also allow kids to get the “care, guidance, and direction” DeMartino desires.

Lauren Witzke (Senate)

This is one of Lauren’s bread-and-butter issues, to a point where she has said way more on the subject than I can summarize in a few paragraphs. Maybe the best way to put it is her saying, “the American Family has been put on the back burner. It has been sacrificed to turn every American into an economic unit, who lives not to serve his or her family or God, but to serve his or her employer and the false idol of GDP…Lauren will pass legislation to further incentivize marriage and child-bearing, thus increasing American birthrates and rebuilding our culture to center it around the American Family.”

So let’s look at this idea. Lauren has noted the example of Hungary, which has created its own incentives for marriage and childbearing with some success. I think it’s a noble idea, but there are two issues I have with it: first of all, it’s not a legitimate function of government at any level to dictate child-bearing (witness the outcry over the years about China’s one-child policy, which led to millions of abortions) nor should the incentives be based on an income tax – more on that in a future edition of the dossier.

It’s been argued that we can’t legislate morality. Witzke also backs a Constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, which would be the extent of federal involvement I might favor. Until such an amendment is passed – and I’m not holding my breath on that one – abortion should be a state issue.

Lee Murphy (House)

Murphy states right up front, “I am pro-life.” And then he tells me what he is not: “Democrats are advocating for late-term abortion. They are okay with ending a baby’s life at seven, eight and nine months of pregnancy, or even after a child is born. I strongly disagree.”

The slower go comes from this statement, “We should instead provide support to mothers and their families facing hardship, and ensure they have the resources necessary to choose life.” This, to me, puts the federal government in a role in which they don’t really belong. I can buy this a little bit more if he were running for state office – which Lee has a few times over his long, uphill political career – but this is another case where money = strings and I don’t support those.

Matthew Morris (House)

Matthew has engaged with folks on social media regarding this subject, and he has a considerably different take. While Matthew argues he is pro-life, he hides his pro-choice view behind a fig leaf, claiming, “I believe as a man, I do not have a say on this issue.” If you are a defender of life, indeed you do. Perhaps part of that comes from his sexuality, noting “As a gay man, I don’t want people telling me what I can and can not do with my body. It’s just a really touchy subject.”

The trouble I have with that philosophy in the case of abortion is that (in the vast, vast majority of cases) the choice was already made, and another life was created. I believe “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are phrased that way for a reason: you can’t pursue happiness without liberty, and you can’t have liberty without life. So a woman isn’t just choosing her liberty, but also denying the liberty of the baby inside her. If she doesn’t feel she can take care of the child, there are alternatives readily available that would maintain the child’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with a willing set of parents.

This take is made even more different when he calls for, “Nuclear families, proper resources for implementing pro-social behavioral learning, and funding for community centers to be able to ensure the children growing up in fatherless homes are taken care of as well.” (He grew up in such a home.) Again, this is a more appropriate state-level “ask” than a federal one.

The next portion of this deep dive will look at the topics of trade and job creation.

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