You might wonder why the “family values” electoral revolution of 1994 fizzled out promptly after 1996, while illegitimacy and cohabitation exploded, and social spending is still the largest and fastest-growing line item in the federal budget.

The answer is simple: We have listened to the wrong socioeconomic policy luminaries all along.

The Institute for American Values, or IAV, and its president, David Blankenhorn, have been the leading oracle of social thinking since about 1991. “Families First: Report of the National Commission on America’s Urban Families,” issued under President H.W. Bush in 1993, became the northern star followed by leading pro-family organizations when the Personal Responsibility and Work Act of 1996, or PROWRA, was designed.

We now know that PROWRA was not successful. It significantly stimulated illegitimacy, cohabitation and poverty for unmarried mothers and has driven federal social spending to an astronomical level approaching $1 trillion annually.

How did this happen?

Despite volumes of picturesque papers published by IAV expounding the importance of marriage, its only substantial policy accomplishment over the last 20 years is collecting child support (enacted in PROWRA). The jiggling process Blankenhorn applies to juxtapose marriage for child support, and urging expansions of programs that outsource the functions of marriage (the feminists’ plan), has been astonishingly effective.

In his acclaimed book “Fatherless America” (1995), he focused on “fatherlessness” (a consequence of marriage absence). He first laid out a premise: “Fatherlessness” is our “most urgent social problem” (focusing solely on men), and summarily blamed the problem on “paternal choice” (absent one whit of scientific foundation).

Instead of executing the pro-marriage agenda intended for PROWRA, a budget-minded Republican Congress launched a massive child-support-collection inquisition in the name of “family values.” Liberals loved it so much that Bill Clinton later claimed that it was his idea!

PROWRA was a policy tragedy. Collecting more child support only builds bigger government, encourages more divorce and illegitimacy, drives increases in federal and state spending, adds more women on welfare and sends more men to prison via the underground economy.

How could leading pro-family organizations and nonscientific pundits fall for classic socialist agenda? Perhaps I should allow David Blankenhorn to reveal the answer for me – in his own words from the Institute for American Values website:

Before founding the institute, I was a Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizer, and before that, a VISTA volunteer. I am a life-long Democrat. I have never, to the best of my memory, described myself as a “conservative,” neo or otherwise, or as in favor of a political campaign called “family values,” neo or other-wise.

David Blankenhorn is also a pied piper of the “social truce movement.” He became an idol of conservatives for arguing against gay marriage in his 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” but two years later endorsed it in a New York Times article instructing everyone to succumb in return for a shallow promise not to force churches to recognize it.

No truces or mugwumps on same-sex marriage are acceptable. It is feminist-inspired policy designed to establish three classes of marriage. Feminist “marriage” is a three-way contract, with government the third party collecting “child support” entitlements for children borne of extramarital affairs, backed by welfare guarantees. Feminist “marriage” is entitled serial-polyandry, uniquely enriched by one or more substantial income sources not available to the other two planned subordinate classes of heterosexual marriage and male-male “marriage.” Same-sex marriage is “welfarism redoubled” and cannot be rationally deemed a constitutional right.

History demonstrates that the Institute for American Values has never been focused on thoughtful policy designed to restore heterosexual marriage as the social norm. Its game has been to lure conservatives into executing feminist thinking for nearly two decades, while creeping socialism overruns the nation. All it did was blame everything on men, and conservatives jumped on the feminist policywagon in droves.

Even Bill Bennett, perhaps America’s leading pro-marriage spokesman, understands the driving impact of feminist policy – but rivits on men’s disappearance from marriage and society. His recommendation is for everyone to “man up” and “hammer the boys” (via unspecified big-government programs).

Why do so many leading pro-family organizations and pundits still firmly believe in IAV and follow its lead? Perhaps because no other organization previously existed having rock-steady knowledge and policy to lead America out of ratcheting socialism.

This is the reason we founded the Center for Marriage Policy. We have done our homework. We understand the cause-effect hierarchy driving marriage absence. We have well-crafted policy to end marriage absence for the benefit of all men, women, children and taxpayers. We do not bend in the breeze or play with words.

We begin with effective policy to replace no-fault divorce with a hybrid combination of “mutual consent” divorce and no-nonsense “responsible dissolution” where serious problems exist. Our policy is crafted with a sizeable consortium of expert attorneys with whom we are working. No-fault divorce is a combative model, very expensive, and results in attorneys having too many uncollectable fees. Attorneys want less work for a better bottom line. We will deliver that.

For the rest of America, here is my promise: Missouri will be the first state to end the divorce revolution – and then the nation will follow.

We have nine other effective socioeconomic policies to migrate millions of poor Americans from cohabitation and welfare to marriage, rebuild a vibrant marriage culture, reduce poverty significantly and reduce domestic violence by addressing its leading cause – substance abuse.

We urge leading pro-family organizations to walk away from the Institute for American Values and follow our lead. America is going bankrupt paying for the costs of marriage absence. The poor demand change to lift them out of poverty. Let us set them free, lead them off the big-government plantation and into happier, richer lives as invested, productive, married, taxpaying Americans.


David R. Usher is president of the Center for Marriage Policy.

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