My Point of View: Democrats most likely to support families

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Republicans talk a lot about “traditional family values,” while Democrats work to undergird family life with tangible resources.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

By “traditional family values,” Republicans mean patriarchal order. Women are subservient to men, children are under the unquestioned authority of parents, workers are acquiescent to bosses, and followers are obedient to leaders.

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Patriarchy protects abusers. It perpetuates inequality. It denigrates intellectual thought, moral development and scientific endeavors that could threaten its control.

Yes, it’s “traditional,” but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

An egalitarian model of family defends human rights, seeks to nurture the full potential of every child no matter their station and finds all people worthy of basic health care, safe water and clean air. This is what Democrats stand for.

You can vote for “family values” either way, but the difference between Republicans’ and Democrats’ competing visions has grown increasingly stark.

I find it interesting that Brad Kramer devoted a column to Republicans’ “traditional family values” with so many recent examples of Republicans acting otherwise.

Republican Congressman George Santos previously performed as a drag queen (“sexualized”!), fabricated his entire resume and is under investigation for financial crimes, including stealing the money he raised for a wounded veteran whose canine companion needed life-saving surgery. (The dog died.)

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker was revealed to have fathered children with multiple women he wasn’t married to and paid for one of their abortions.

A Republican state Senate candidate in South Dakota, Joel Koskan, was charged shortly before the November election with felony child abuse regarding a female family member he allegedly groomed, molested and raped.

A Republican candidate for local office in Arizona, Randy Kaufman, was charged with public sexual indecency after a police officer observed him masturbating in his vehicle while watching a pornographic video near a preschool in October.

A Turning Point USA staffer, Adam Hageman, was convicted of receipt of child pornography and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in federal prison last September.

Josh Duggar, former lobbyist for the Family Research Council, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for a child pornography conviction last May.

A former Republican National Committee staffer, Ruben Verastigui, was convicted of receipt of child pornography and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in federal prison last April.

Anthony Lazzaro, Republican donor/friend of former Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Hagedorn, is scheduled to go on trial for sex trafficking of minors in March. A former Minnesota College Republican has already pled guilty for her role in the sex trafficking ring.

These are just some of the scandals among Republicans and Republican-affiliated actors in the past year. In addition, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the country’s largest Protestant denomination and whose members heavily tilt Republican, is under federal investigation after an independent report released last summer revealed evidence that SBC leadership mishandled sexual abuse accusations against clergy for decades.

Abuse of power is a feature, not a bug, of patriarchy. Again, when Republicans refer to “traditional” family values, they mean patriarchy. In its religious context, this bearing is aligned with Old Testament times, not the teachings of Jesus.

In the New Testament, Jesus didn’t get hung up on gender nonconformity, abortion, illegal immigration, communism or whatever FOX News is baiting viewers with this week.

Jesus said to feed the hungry, care for the sick and clothe the naked. He traveled around on foot and preached about fulfilling basic needs. He criticized accumulation of personal wealth. If politicians who call themselves “Christian” are ignoring that, they’ve appropriated the name of Christ in service to other ends — namely power, profit and greed.

Our state representative, Peggy Bennett, voted in committee against free lunch for all public school students. She explained, “This is using a shotgun effect where a more surgical targeted effect would make more sense.” (Given school shootings, perhaps she could choose other metaphors, especially when assigning them to Democrats’ proposals on feeding students.) Bennett asked, “Why would we use taxpayer dollars to pay for the lunches for families who can afford this — wealthy families in particular?”

A blanket approach would serve our district best. My child attends Hawthorne Elementary where 64% of students already qualify for free and reduced lunch. Free lunch would help the overwhelming majority of parents, including middle class parents squeezed by higher grocery prices. Wealthy parents will still pay their fair share in income taxes.

From a moral standpoint it’s a no-brainer, and from an economic standpoint, feeding children when their brains are rapidly developing yields a great return on investment. The DFL majority has the right priority on this matter.

Once again, it’s Democrats who are most likely to nurture the full potential of children and support families from the bottom and middle out.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.