R. Usher and Representative Cynthia Davis
January 13, 2011
Every day we read articles bemoaning the lack of marriage and complaining about marriage-destructive Progressive federal law. Now is the time to move beyond armchair hand-wringing about the demise of marriage and destructive laws. We must take a firm lead with better policy that will accurately target social problems, consistent with Conservative principles, while restoring marriage for the benefit all Americans.
Conservatives can win the war on marriage by working toward workable legislative answers that make more sense than the anti-family ideas being promoted by organized progressives around the Beltway and in state capitols across America.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is an example of government erroneously treating a consequence rather than impacting the source of the problem. Domestic violence is usually a symptom of a much larger problem brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. Due to the emotional nature of this issue, we missed the root cause of the problem.
Surprisingly, was pushed through a Republican-dominated Congress in 1994, despite the fact it was exclusively promulgated by radical feminist Progressives. Republican leadership merely rubber-stamped legislation by Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone (a former Alinsky community organizer), and then-Senator Joe Biden (a National Organization for Women operative).
VAWA is often misused to unilaterally take over families, destroy marriages and dole out extensive welfare entitlements, housing guarantees, and immigration guarantees simply on unverified statements of fear. Since its passage, VAWA has actually increased family violence that had been on a downward trend since 1976!
VAWA funding was re-authorized in 2000, 2005, and 2008 with nearly unanimous Republican support despite a continuing storm of well-founded complaints. Phyllis Schlafly, RADAR, and other ranking conservatives know that VAWA is destructive policy often misused to fund a plethora of anti-marriage feminist pogroms.
How is it possible that over this sixteen-year time period, not one conservative organization has proposed better legislation to deal with domestic violence? When will we set forth sensible social policy, founded on substance rather than symbolism, conforming to conservative principles and simple human science?
I entered public office in 1994---about the same time VAWA was passed and have held office on the local and state level, including time as chair of the Missouri House of Representative’s Children and Families Committee. As a conservative, it frustrates me that there is such a dearth of sound logic to counteract the misinformation being promoted by the left. By the time a domestic violence bill gets to a vote, legislators from both parties fall all over each other trying to support it. Legislators from all political parties want the reputation of being the “champions of the poor women and children,” but we are completely amiss on how to accomplish this.
Progressives now want to enact I-VAWA – designed to directly entitle U.N. feminists to destroy marriage, promote abortion, and foster lesbianism worldwide. This is at the top of Joe Biden’s agenda. Republicans will likely cave-in as they have in the past unless we show them the way on social policy matters.
The Lesson: Republicans will continue losing ground if we continue to fall for the same old tricks of anti-marriage progressives. We can win most important social policy matters if we set forth better legislation.
Our necessary goal: Just like Ronald Reagan implemented trickle-down economics, we must establish wise social policies adhering to a “trickle-down social policy” model under development by the Center for Marriage Policy. Ronald Reagan succeeded in strengthening our economy.
However, our budget bloated under liberal spending because conservatives of the era did not understand the necessity or mechanics of trickle-down social policy.
Trickle-down economic policy builds jobs and business. Likewise, trickle-down social policy will strengthen marriage, benefit children and conserve social expenditures. The portion of taxpayer funds spent on welfare is placing America and some states on the verge of insolvency. Conservatives must take strong stands on social policy in order to strengthen marriages and save America from financial ruin.
A simple example of trickle-down social policy
can we positively impact and prevent domestic violence with trickle-down
social policy? We must focus on the leading causes of domestic violence
and directly addressing them. Alcohol
and drug abuse is associated with eighty-six percent of serious domestic
violence. It is by far the leading factor in family violence as
well as being a major factor in motor vehicle accidents.
Substance abuse is often the predicator of cheating, squandering marital assets, getting fired, motivational problems, crime to support addiction, and an inability to maintain family relationships. Millions of marriages can be saved, but only when the substance abuser recovers.
ignores substance abuse in the family, and dangerously encourages continuing
substance abuse when the individual seeking a VAWA restraining order
is also the substance abuser.
Responsible spouses dealing with a substance-abusing partner have only two awful choices under VAWA: to “live with it” or “get a divorce.”
If we could give spouses a power tool to help them leverage the troubled spouse into successful substance-abuse treatment, it would change everything.
The Center for Marriage Policy is encouraging all legislative bodies to replace VAWA with a gender-neutral “Family Violence Act”. A major component of this Act will be the “Family Intervention Order” (FIO). The FIO is a low-cost tool directed at substance abuse problems. When implemented successfully, it can empower spouses to keep their marriages on track, make divorce unnecessary, prevent future violence, child abuse, and neglect -- and also prevent future motor vehicle accidents. The FIO can be used only by spouses and does not give agencies any power.
The FIO is similar to existing restraining orders in force, but the impact is targeted to achieve positive results for spouses and the State at extremely low cost:
A spouse seeking an FIO demonstrates by simple evidence that his or
her partner is abusing drugs or alcohol and that substance abuse is
causing marital disruption, work impairment, or violence in the family.
• The court orders the substance-abuser to attend a prevention/intervention interview at a state-approved chemical-dependency treatment center within four weeks. The Center also interviews the Petitioner to get a better understanding of the family dynamic and see if the Petitioner may be a co-substance-abuser.
• The Center responds to the court with a form indicating whether the alleged abuser appears to have a substance abuse problem. Treatment centers cannot be subpoenaed.
• If indicated, the court orders the Respondent to undergo treatment and stay clean and dry for a five year period.
• The court may issue a temporary restraining order removing the Respondent from the home, at any time, to ensure that the Respondent “gets the message” and takes recovery seriously.
• A small percentage of TANF reserves shall be set-aside for a state-sponsored loan fund to facilitate low-income individuals paying for their treatment. It is well-known in the field of substance abuse treatment that individuals are much more likely to take recovery seriously if they have to pay for it.
As conservatives, we want our government smaller. Government often inappropriately interjects itself into human relationships when marriages are in trouble. While the FIO may seem like a new program, it preempts the need for VAWA, by resolving the leading cause of family problems at comparatively low cost. The national government decided to involve itself when it passed VAWA in 1994. Instead of reauthorizing VAWA, we should eliminate it through better ideas that will strengthen families.
While this still won’t guarantee success for every situation, the longitudinal recovery rate for Betty Ford (Hazelden) recovery programs is very high. Marriage is the safest place for women, children, and men. It creates taxpayers, and is only institution preventing tragedies driving the necessity for massive social service spending.
Many leading social conservatives have become disillusioned with the Republican Party. Republicans cannot retain control in Washington without the dynamic involvement of powerful social conservative networks.
According to Dr. Donald Devine, Vice President of the American Conservative Union, “Regnant progressivism–whether in liberal or “moderate” or “third way” or socialist guise–has one solution. Do more of the same national government, expert-led, one-size-fits-all, welfare-statism that has led us to the current alienation. Continuing to do the same thing after it repeatedly has failed is one definition of insanity.” Republicans need strong social policies so that they aren’t duped into following the same misguided path of progressives who seek to erode and minimize the importance of family. Achieving a sane and prosperous America is inseparably linked with restoring marriage.
At the 2010 Values Voters Summit, Mike Huckabee emphasized the long-overdue need for economic conservatives to include a Marriage Values policy (or a similar active model) within core party agenda: “What would happen if we truly did believe, that the single most important thing we could do to create a stable economy and fiscal responsibility is to have a stable family, and family responsibility?”.
Marriage Values policies agree with Conservative, Libertarian, and deTocqueville’s principles. We can strengthen voluntarily marital relationships, supported by traditional local networks, at miniscule cost, without bureaucrats having ability to steer or decide who wins or loses.
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If economic conservatives and Libertarians work with us to execute trickle-down social policy, our children will not have to pay the price for the financial and societal degeneration that is crippling us now. It’s time to stop placating pro-homosexual organizations that have no pro-social purpose. These groups bring to the table dangerous feminist legal principles promising more social problems with a price tag America can no longer afford to bear.
© 2011 David Usher - All Rights Reserved
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Cynthia Davis is a former State Representative for Missouri’s 19th District.
David R. Usher is President of the Center for Marriage Policy, and a co-founder and past Secretary of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.