The Baby Bust and the New Progressive Turn against Marriage

Despite a robust economy and low levels of unemployment, U.S. fertility rates have continued to fall, as they have done for roughly a decade. While some have pointed to such possible causes as the cost of childcare and other material factors, Ross Douthat observes that—however worthy of discussion these issues may in themselves be—the fertility rates of married couples have actually remained steady. This suggests that the real problem is the declining marriage rate—a trend Douthat connects with a “third phase” of liberal attitudes toward marriage:

This new phase is incomplete and contested, and it includes elements—in #MeToo feminism, especially—whose ultimate valence could theoretically be congenial to cultural conservatives. But in general the emerging progressivism seems hostile not only to anything tainted by conservative religion or “gender essentialism” [the now-derided belief that biological sex differences are meaningful] but to any idea of sexual or reproductive normativity, period, outside a bureaucratically supervised definition of “consent.” And it’s therefore disinclined to regard lifelong monogamy as anything more than one choice among many, one script to play with or abandon, one way of being whose decline should not necessarily be mourned, and whose still-outsized cultural power probably requires further deconstruction to be anything more than a patriarchal holdover, a prison, and a trap. . . .

[I]t does not feel like a coincidence that the new phase tracks with the recent decline in childbearing. If the new liberal hostility to marriage-as-normative-institution is not one of the ideological causes of our latest post-familial ratchet, it is at least a ex-post-facto ideological excuse, in which the frequent prestige-media pitches for polyamory or open marriages or “escaping gender norms” entirely are there to reassure people who might otherwise desire a little more normativity (and a few more children) in their lives, that it’s all cool because they’re in the vanguard of a revolution.

Certainly the new phase of liberalism is increasing the political polarization of both marital practice and marital beliefs. . . . [I]n the aggregate, Republicans marry more and divorce less than Democrats, ideological conservatives are much more likely to be married than ideological liberals, and conservatives are more than twice as likely to describe marriage as something “needed” for “strong families.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at New York Times

More about: American society, Family, Fertility, Marriage, Progressivism

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship