Trump’s ‘Purple’ Family Values

In contrast, almost all of the people I know in my hometown in Nebraska proudly supported him. They glossed over his infidelities and stressed that he seemed to be a good father. They were impressed by his “respectful” sons and admired the success of his daughters.

The people I know in Nebraska have the same moral views as my religious acquaintances in New York, yet they had a totally different view of Mr. Trump as a standard-bearer for family values. What made the difference? In a word, class.

.. Blue families prize equality and companionship between spouses while putting a low value on childbearing. Red families tend to be inegalitarian or complementarian, viewing the man as the primary breadwinner and the mother as the primary caregiver. Early marriage and multiple children are typical.

.. Red families tend toward conservatism, and blue tend toward progressivism, but the models share an upper-class stress on respectability and a strong taboo against out-of-wedlock birth.

.. A third model can be found among working-class whites, blacks and Hispanics — let’s call it purple. In these families, bonds between mothers and children are prized above those between couples. Unstable relationships are the norm, and fathers quickly end up out of the picture.

.. Liberal professionals decried his sexism, which violated the prime value of the blue family model: equality. Elite evangelicals decried his infidelity, which ran counter to the red family model’s stress on fidelity.

.. Mr. Trump’s board is overwhelmingly drawn from the Southern Baptist Convention and various Pentecostal and prosperity gospel churches. Figures at the Wheaton conference were more likely to be from Presbyterian churches, or conservative offshoots of the Episcopal Church.

.. An Episcopalian is more likely to have an advanced degree than a Southern Baptist is to have a college diploma.

.. Mr. Trump embodies a real if imperfect model of family values. People familiar with the purple family model tend to view his alienation from his children’s mother as normal and his closeness to his children as exceptional and admirable. I saw this among my acquaintances in Nebraska. Even those from red families were more likely than my acquaintances in New York to know someone who has had a child out of wedlock or is subject to a restraining order.

.. Mr. Trump’s purple family values may even explain some of his populist appeal. Global leaders like Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker appear to have stable and loving marriages. But their childlessness makes them worse exemplars of family values in the eyes of some non-elites than divorcees who have multiple children

.. Contempt for elite respectability is reflected not only in the respective party platforms, but in the personal lives of these populist leaders.

..  Barbara Bush said, “However you define family, that’s what we mean by family values.”


Richard Rohr Meditation: Protecting and Also Bridging Differences

humans need concrete and particular experiences to learn the ways of love. [1] We don’t learn to love through abstract philosophy or theology. That’s why Jesus came to show God in human form, revealing a face we could recognize and relate to.

..  it must begin with somehow seeing the divine (ultimate value) in the other. If we really see someone in their fullness, we cannot help but treat them with kindness and compassion.

.. The problem is that the ego likes to assign lesser and greater value based on differences. Until all people everywhere are treated with dignity and respect, we must continue calling attention to imbalances of privilege and power. Arbitrary, artificial hierarchies and discrimination are based on a variety of differences: for example,

  • gender,
  • sexuality,
  • class,
  • skin color,
  • education,
  • physical or mental ability,
  • attractiveness,
  • accent,
  • language,
  • religion,

and so on.

.. “Intersectionality” is a rather new concept for most of us to help explain how these attributes overlap. You can be privileged in some areas and not in others. A poor white man has more opportunities for advancement than a poor black man. [2] A transgender woman of color has an even higher risk of being assaulted than a white heterosexual woman. [3] Someone without a disability has an easier time finding a job than an equally qualified candidate who has a disability.

.. “admitting one’s privilege can be very difficult,” especially for those who consider themselves tolerant and prefer to not use labels, “calling themselves color-blind, for instance.”

.. When we finally recognize our unearned benefits—at the expense of others—we may feel ashamed and that may lead us to make excuses for ourselves or overly identify with a less privileged aspect of our identity (for example as Jewish or female).

.. We must work to dismantle systems of oppression while at the same time honoring our differences and celebrating our oneness!

This takes a great deal of spiritual maturity. Unity, in fact, is the reconciliation of differences, not the denial of them. 

Our differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love (exactly as in the three persons of the Trinity). We must distinguish and separate things before we can spiritually unite them, usually at cost to ourselves, especially if we are privileged (see Ephesians 2:14-16).

God is a mystery of relationship, and the truest relationship is love. Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them.

The Class Struggle According to Donald Trump

the fact that a worker’s wealth and well-being is much more dependent upon her employer than the employer is on a given worker tilts things in the employer’s favor.

.. Two trends demonstrate the decline of labor and the ascent of business. Since 1979, after-tax corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product have grown by 22.8 percent, while the share of nonfarm business sector income going to labor has dropped by 10.3 percent.

The decline in worker bargaining power in the United States is the cumulative effect of numerous small and large changes over recent decades reaching into almost every area of law and policy. This combines with a decline in the enforcement of existing laws that could protect workers’ bargaining power — laws protecting unions, laws against wage theft, nondiscrimination laws, and more.

.. Among these changes is the requirement that employees sign what are known as “noncompete” and “no-raid” agreements, both of which restrict workers’ ability to extract pay hikes by threatening to take similar jobs at competing companies.

.. “less than half of workers who have non-competes also report possessing trade secrets.”

When entry-level workers at fast food restaurants are asked to sign two-year non-competes, it becomes less plausible that trade secrets are always the primary motivation for such agreements.

.. The treasury report estimated that 30 million American workers have signed noncompete agreements.

.. 94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.

The growing emphasis on “shareholder value” has provided additional justification for all of these anti-worker developments.

.. “the shareholder value movement starting in the late 1980s and now institutionalized through industry analysts” was crucially important in the devaluation of employees:

.. Accounting in business is mainly about costs. Finance people hate fixed costs because of the challenges they raise to share price valuation when there is uncertainty, and the biggest fixed costs are labor. Simply moving the same labor costs from employees to outside staffing companies moves it from one part of the accounting ledger to another and makes analysts happier.

This mentality, in turn, encourages “the use of temps and contractors” to fill high-wage jobs because “that way the employer doesn’t have to raise wages for all their employees.”

.. Companies could outsource work to areas with cheaper labor and less of a union presence. This both weakened the union and ramped up competitive pressure on the companies that were unionized. The result was fewer unions.

.. In 2017, 6.5 percent of the private sector work force was unionized, down from 35 percent in 1955.

.. The contemporary weakness of organized labor and the threatened status of employees has roots in the breakdown in the 1970s of the postwar capital-labor accord — what A.H. Raskin, the legendary labor reporter for The Times, called a “live-and-let-live relationship” that held sway for 30 years.

.. First, they would alter antitrust enforcement to require consideration of the likely effect of mergers on concentration in the labor market, in order to prevent “too high a risk of wage suppression.”

.. Second, Krueger and Posner would support legislation making noncompete agreements “uniformly unenforceable and banned if they govern a worker who earns less than the median wage in her state.”

.. ban no-poaching arrangements altogether:

We propose a per se rule against no-poaching agreements regardless of whether they are used outside or within franchises. In other words, no-poaching agreements would be considered illegal regardless of the circumstances of their use.

.. In the 2016 election, Trump profited from the conviction of rural and working-class voters that they were on a downward trajectory. If anything, Trump appears to be gambling that letting those voters’ lives continue to languish will work to his advantage in 2020.

.. His administration has turned the executive branch, the federal courts and the regulatory agencies into the sworn enemy of workers, organized and unorganized. Trump is indisputably indifferent to the plight of anyone in the bottom half of the income distribution:

  • look at his appointments,
  • look at his record in office,
  • look back at his business career and
  • look at the man himself.

The Man Who Discovered ‘Culture Wars’

James Davison Hunter coined the phrase in 1991, a year ahead of Pat Buchanan. Now he reflects on how the struggle has evolved over three decades.

For much of American history, the most salient cultural fault lines were between religious groups. Hostility between Protestants and Catholics prompted bitter battles over school curricula in the mid-19th century, and the fight over Prohibition pitted mostly Protestant “drys” against mostly Catholic “wets.” But by the 1960s cross-denominational conflicts had begun to fade. As America became more culturally diverse, the Protestant consensus gave way to a Christian consensus, and later a “Judeo-Christian” one.

Yet social peace did not arrive. Quite the opposite. A new set of issues emerged out of the sexual revolution and identity politics: not merely abortion, Mr. Hunter says, but everything from “condoms in schools” to “ Christopher Columbus, is he a villain or a hero?” These questions didn’t track with traditional left-right economic debates, he continues; nor did they seem to put believers of different denominations in opposition. Instead, the new divide was within religious groups

.. The two sides, he explains, had “fundamentally different understandings of national identity.”

.. “The state is the institution that holds the reins of legitimate violence,” Mr. Hunter says, “and this is one of the reasons why our disputes tend to be litigated more than they are actually debated.” When your cultural adversaries are in power, it can feel as if you are under hostile occupation. “The state becomes the patron of a certain vision of the world,” he adds.

.. On one side is a traditionalist vision that holds truth to be “rooted in an authority outside of the self,” Mr. Hunter says, be it Nature or “the Bible, the Magisteria, the Torah.” Thus this view’s emphasis on maintaining “continuities with the truths of the past.” On the other side is a “post-Enlightenment” vision that rejects “transcendent and authoritative traditions.” In the progressive view, “freedom is predominant”—especially freedom for groups seen as oppressed by tradition.

.. Many of the cultural skirmishes Mr. Hunter started writing about in the 1990s remain at the center of politics, including abortion, campus speech codes, multiculturalism, and religion’s place in public life

.. the disputes have grown more vituperative

..  culture is “about systems of meaning that help make sense of the world

.. why things are good, true and beautiful, or why things are not. Why things are right and wrong.” Culture “provides the moral foundation of a political order.”

.. Mr. Buchanan was on to something, Mr. Hunter suggests, when he tied the culture wars to the end of the Cold War: “Identity is formed not only by our affirmations but by our negations. The Soviet Union—communism generally—was an enemy against which we could define ourselves.” When the Berlin Wall fell, “that need for an enemy became internal to the United States.

..  America’s culture war is “the kind of conflict that societies can go through when nothing else is at stake.”

.. The traditionalists “chose to fight the culture wars politically,” Mr. Hunter says. “They are going after the Supreme Court; they are going after the White House.”

.. But outside government, progressives have a clear cultural advantage in major institutions, from universities to movie studios to publishing houses to advertising agencies. Such institutions matter because “culture is not only a system of meaning” but also an “economy,”

.. conservatism’s “cultural production is mainly operating on the periphery.”

.. “For people to remain in the middle class or achieve an upper-middle-class life,” Mr. Hunter says, “they have to go through the credentialing institutions of our society.”

.. “There is now a consolidation of wealth and power and influence, within that top 18% to 20% of the population,” Mr. Hunter says. “They have largely different values, different speech codes, different ways of talking.”

.. As elite institutions increasingly repudiated the values of the masses, the culture wars took on what Mr. Hunter calls a “Nietzschean” quality: The stakes began to seem so high that coalitions would “abandon their values and ideals in order to sustain power.

.. the Harvard Law School prides itself on its diversity, but it’s a diversity in which basically everyone views the world the exact same way.”
.. If “there is a hope that the state can secure the world, even by someone as imperfect as Trump, ” then “religious people, are willing to make all sorts of accommodations”—willing “to justify pretty much anything.”
.. Enlightenment thinkers attempted to “retain Jewish and Christian values, understandings of the world, but without any of the creedal foundations
.. This is one way of thinking about the project of today’s culture-war progressives: expanding universal equality and dignity, but without a foundational source of authority outside reason and science.
..  “A metal detector cannot tell you everything about what’s buried at the beach, but it can tell you about the buried metal things. Similarly, science may not be able to tell us how to live, but it can tell us about physical reality and its laws.”