The Post-Familial Election

HOW did we get here? How did it come to this? Not just to the Donald Trump phenomenon, but to the whole choice facing us on Tuesday, in which a managerial liberalism and an authoritarian nationalism — two visions of the president as essentially a Great Protector

.. For a while, conservatives have worried that this revolution is a boon to liberalism, to centralization and bureaucratic control — because as families thin people are more likely to look to politics for community and government for protection.

.. This idea is borne out in voting patterns, where marriage and kids tend to predict Republican affiliation, and the single and divorced are often reliable Democratic partisans.

.. For this reason mass immigration, the technocratic solution to the economic problems created by post-familialism — fewer workers supporting more retirees — is a double-edged sword: It replaces the missing workers but exacerbates intergenerational alienation, because it heightens anxieties about inheritance and loss.

.. In this landscape, the white-identity politics of Trumpism or European nationalism may be a more intuitively attractive form of right-wing politics than a libertarian conservatism. Right-authoritarianism offers some of the same welfare-state protections that liberalism offers to its Julias, it offers tribal solidarity to people whose family bonds have frayed — and then it links the two, public programs and tribal consciousness, in the promise of a welfare state that’s only designed for you and yours.

.. They can hope that with time the racial and ethnic differences between the generations will diminish, and that eventually state programs can more smoothly substitute for thinning families without ethno-cultural anxieties getting in the way.

.. In either case, the demagogues of the future will have ample opportunity to exploit the deep loneliness that a post-familial society threatens to create.

.. A fear of a world in which no one is bound by kinship to take care of you, and where you can go down into death leaving little or nothing of yourself behind.