Today in Great Ideas

[Content Note: Poverty; domestic violence.]

Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed thinks that making divorce more difficult is a better solution to poverty than food stamps:
In an interview with MSNBC's Morning Joe to push his latest book, Reed asserted that the national debt was connected to the decline in the nation's morality.

Host Mika Brzezinski wondered why Reed had compared divorce to drug use, human trafficking and legalized gambling to prove the country was in decline.

"I personally think the no-fault divorce revolution in the 60s and 70s has not been good for society," Reed explained. "Certainly, I recognize that couples are not going to be able to stay together. That's been true throughout society, but do we really want to make it easier for a man to discard the wife of his youth than it is for him to fire his secretary, for him to basically go in and say goodbye when 40 percent of all child support is never paid?"

"And when we know, 40 percent of the women and children that are thus cast aside end up in poverty," he added. "A woman is far more likely to end up in poverty. A man's income goes up. So, a lot of the poverty problem in America is a problem of women and children abandoned by the husbands and fathers."

MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle pointed out that Reed should support more federal programs like food stamps if he was concerned about poor women and children.

Reed, however, argued that making divorce more difficult was a "better solution" than food stamps.
The "no-fault divorce revolution" made it easier for women who were being abused by their husbands to divorce them.

Among the many deplorable conservative fantasies about marriage are:

1. All men are the primary breadwinners in their families.

2. That a man who is forced to stay married will be a good husband and/or father. But a man who refuses to pay child support and/or alimony is just as capable of controlling finances and withholding funds inside a marriage.

3. That a woman and/or children are better off forcibly held together to an abusive husband/father than they are away from him, even if they're impoverished as a result. Which, of course, is not an inevitable result, if only we would robustly fund the social safety net.

4. That children always need a father. This argument often comes up in discussions of households headed by single mothers, multi-generational female relatives, and lesbian parents, in a framework of how children need a strong male role model (which, many conservatives assert, only a father can be). Less discussed is the fact that some fathers are so shitty that their presence does harm to their kids. No, it's really not necessarily better to have a present father who abuses and/or neglects you than it is to have an absent father.

(That's not a comprehensive list of problems with conservative views on marriage and parenting.)

Reed says that the no-fault divorce revolution was a disaster and that "a lot of the poverty problem in America is a problem of women and children abandoned by the husbands and fathers." But the truth is, the no-fault divorce revolution was very important for women, and a lot of the poverty problem in America is a problem of women and children abandoned by their government, at the urging of conservatives like Ralph Reed.

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Fun Fact! The first protest in which I ever participated was protesting Ralph Reed coming to speak at my university campus. We won. Fuck you, Ralph Reed.

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