Actually, there is no pat meaning or definition for the phrase "family values." Like obscenity, I guess, you just know it when you see it. Often used by social conservatives to conjure up a mythical America of yesteryear, "family values" refers to a time when everyone's lawn was green, thick and well manicured, kids were obedient, and "Lassie" had no genitalia--long before we all turned into gay, pot-smoking abortionists, before minorities and women got so noisy and before movie stars said naughty words on screen.
Today many Republicans use the term "family values" as a weapon against same-sex marriage, legal abortion, the decriminalization of marijuana and a zillion other issues they find unacceptable.
To clarify our terms I suggest we define "family values" as "valuing the American family." "Republicans" will mean, "the movers and shakers of today's dynamic GOP."
Valuing the Family" the Republican Way
To be fair, I think Republicans do value families, but only their own; everybody else's family is either trying to stay in the country illegally, getting rich and lazy on welfare, undeserving of a living wage, a terrorist cell, or immorally trying to become a family while being gay.
Though many Democrats share the blame in the Great Stacking of the Deck Against American Families, these Democrats tend to be of the sneaky, corporate shill variety who are often at odds with American families' wishes and their own party's positions (see Public Option). Republicans, however, are very open about their willingness to throw the American family under the bus in the name of big business, bigotry, big business, bad judgment and big business.
There is really no reason--or enough room on my hard drive--to go into all of the sordid, headline-grabbing "family values" hypocrisies of Republicans like Sen. David "Escort Service" Vitter and Sen. Larry "Strokin' in the Boys Room" Craigs. Though these indiscretions do highlight the dilemma of a party that professes to love America but can't tolerate American lifestyles, they are not the result of official Party policy, as far as I know. Rather, it's the official, loudly-touted policies of today's lockstep Republican leadership that amply demonstrate the party's disregard for the vast majority of American families.
With the possible exception of Republican support for a proposed Wendell Willkie postage stamp, every major item on today's Republican wish list would either be disadvantageous to most American families or devastating if ever put into effect.
Here are a few:
As homeless shelters burst at the seams with newly impoverished families, and old folks wonder how on earth they're going to get through their golden years now that their 401 Ks are in tatters and their homes are worth borscht, Republicans are clamoring to let the Wall Street Greedmasters who drove our economy into a ditch continue to speed along with even fewer rules of the road.
Rather than offering to commit public seppuku for creating the Reagan-Gramm deregulation free-for-all that made the banking greed orgy possible, Republican enablers like Sen. Mitch McConnell and others call Obama a socialist for wanting more governmental oversight of the industry, whining in chorus that such intrusion into the private sector would kill jobs and stifle innovation.
Yeah, we saw the kind of innovation Wall Street guys are capable of. And by the way, whenever you hear a sentence containing any form of the words "job" and "kill" spoken by a Republican, remember who held the ship of state's tiller when the jobs began to die. You've got to admire Republican testicular strength, though--if nothing else--for even mentioning "deregulation" and "job-killing" in the same sentence.
For the last thirty years Americans have been watching their wages decline while CEOs have increasingly taken home salaries and bonuses that would seem excessive to the Sultan of Brunei. According to a New York University study, the top 20% of households owned 85% of all privately held wealth in 2007--leaving the rest of us 80% to divvy up the remaining 15%. Where did America's middle class go? Into the yachts and private jets of the corporate elite, that's where.
Interestingly enough, it was also during this time that Republican policies, votes and propaganda made it more difficult for workers to unionize. Organized labor has gone from representing one-third of America's workforce in 1950 to just 12.4% in 2009 with half of those union members working in the much-easier-to-organize public sector.