24 June 2008

Pro-Family Liberal?

On Father’s Day, Senator Barak Obama affirmed the family is the most important rock “upon which we build our lives.” He rebuked men for acting like boys and described the real burdens borne by single mothers.

He spoke from his experience as a child without a father and as a father committed to breaking the cycle of fatherlessness for his children. He spoke about setting high expectations for children (even criticized eighth-grade graduations), and he stressed setting an example of empathy and compassion.

Then he described the role he thinks Washington should play, expanding maternity, paternity, and sick leave and expanding social and health care programs based on their ability to increase paternal involvement, maternal employment, and children’s readiness for school. Even with Washington’s help, however, Obama warned “the rains will still come and the winds will still blow.”

For many, Obama stated the obvious, but the implications are not exactly common currency in American political discourse—mature, hopeful people invest in their families, Washington cannot eliminate the storms of life, fathers and mothers have roles in the family, and these roles are equally valuable but also somewhat unique.

Pro-family conservatives will disagree with him on Washington’s role in strengthening the family, but Obama seems to recognize family life is more than a government program, and this realization might be even more important.

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