If the Democratic Party is interested in garnering men’s votes, one certainly would not know it from its platform. The Democratic National Committee’s “Renewing America’s Promise” is bad news for American fathers.
The platform’s “Fatherhood” plank puts all blame for father absence squarely on men and promises to “crack down” on fathers who are behind on their child support. It also promises to ratchet up draconian domestic violence laws that often victimize innocent men and separate them from their children.
It’s doubtful that many dads wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “My child loves me and needs me; my wife/girlfriend loves me and needs me – I’m outta here.” Research shows that the vast majority of divorces, as well as many break-ups of unmarried couples, are initiated by women, not by men, and that most of these do not involve serious male transgressions.
When a married or cohabiting couple splits up, the father is generally relegated to visitor status and often can only participate in his children’s lives if the mother allows it. Courts tilt heavily towards mothers in awarding custody and enforce fathers’ visitation rights indifferently. In most states, mothers are free to move their children hundreds or thousands of miles away from their fathers, often permanently destroying the fathers’ bonds with their children.
Obama and the Democrats say they’ll gain billions of dollars in revenue by taxing the “windfall profits” of the evil oil companies. Similarly, the DNC promotes the illusion that cracking down on child support obligors will create a windfall for single mothers.
Yet Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data show that two-thirds of those behind on child support nationwide earned poverty-level wages; less than 4 percent of the national child support debt is owed by those earning $40,000 or more a year. There’s no pile of “deadbeat dad” gold out there for the taking, and research shows that heavy-handed enforcement measures often drive fathers away from their children.
More ominously, the DNC platform pledges to “strengthen domestic violence laws,” support the Violence Against Women Act and increase funding for domestic-violence programs. Society rightfully despises the wife-beater, but the specter of the wife-beater has been used to justify many destructive policies and civil-liberties violations. They have also provided easy ways for disgruntled women to kick decent, loving fathers out of their homes and exclude them from their children’s lives.
Domestic violence laws were dramatically altered in the wake of the O.J. Simpson double murder case, and VAWA was passed in 1994. Among the most harmful is the trilogy of mandatory arrest, the primary aggressor doctrine, and “no drop” prosecution policies.
Greg Schmidt, who created the Seattle Police Department’s domestic violence investigation unit in 1994, says that under mandatory arrest laws police officers are forced to make arrests “in petty incidents, often where the abuse is mutual or it is unclear who the aggressor was.”
Attorney Paul Stuckle, a former Dallas, Texas, patrol officer, believes these laws lead cops to make arrests based only on the alleged victim’s statements, and that officers often fail to complete a fair and thorough investigation. Some cops call this “You call, we haul” – all a woman has to do is make a 911 call, and police arrest her spouse or male partner.
When mandatory arrest laws were first passed, they led to a sharp increase in the number of women arrested, reflecting the well-documented fact that women are as likely to initiate and engage in domestic violence against their male partners as vice versa. In response, the VAWA-funded domestic-violence establishment promoted the primary/dominant aggressor doctrine.
Under this doctrine, when police officers respond to a domestic disturbance call, they are instructed not to focus on who attacked whom and who inflicted the injuries, but instead consider different factors, which will almost always weigh against men. These factors include: comparable size, comparable strength, the person allegedly least likely to be afraid, who has access to or control of family resources (i.e., who makes more money), and others.
Third, many if not most jurisdictions have adopted “no drop” prosecution policies. As a result, many cases of mutual, trivial, or nonexistent “violence” are prosecuted as if they are serious crimes, even when the alleged victim recants or asks that the charges be dropped.
For example, last year Suzanne Gassner Weatherford, a Marin, Calif., juror, told the Marin Independent Journal:
“I spent three days as a juror in a case in which it seemed obvious early on that no conviction could possibly result.
“A woman had called 911 complaining her fiancé had been drinking and pushed her onto their bed. The defendant claimed he held her arms to keep her from hitting him with a phone. The next day, the woman phoned police and the district attorney’s office asking that her fiancé not be prosecuted.
“She stated that she had overreacted, and that she would do anything she could to stop the prosecution. … Nonetheless, the case proceeded.
“The only other witness the prosecution had was a policeman who had heard the woman’s original complaint. Part of his testimony was contradicted by facts that could be ascertained from the 911 recording. … In the jury room, some of us speculated about why this case had ever been brought to court.”
The toughening of domestic-violence laws has also led to an explosion in restraining orders. When a restraining order is issued, the man is booted out of his own home and can be jailed if he tries to contact his own children, even though he has never been afforded the opportunity to defend himself in court. Restraining orders are easy to obtain and are often used as child-custody maneuvers.
Fathers’ ties to their children are more tenuous than at any time in American history. Child support and domestic violence policies have helped drive a wedge between fathers and their children. Sadly, the Democratic Party has committed itself to policies that will make the problem worse.