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Conservative family values are a fraud

David Strand
Columnist

Mitt Romney addressed the GOP Convention in St. Paul and said, “The liberals don’t have a clue.” The Country Club audience loved it!

As proud conservative Romney preaches family values and points his finger at liberals, he has three fingers pointing at himself.

Conservative and family values when combined make a contradictory term, an oxymoron.

Among all our peers, the failure of the family is greatest in America. Moreover, compared to all other modern democracies our families receive the least community support, a product of a nation unwilling to match family value rhetoric with genuine family value policies.

Nowhere was that driven home so powerfully than when working with abused and neglected kids in Hennepin County. Poverty, lack of health care and general hopelessness are widespread conditions among bottom rung families in this so-called “developed” country.

What does John McCain’s party plan for struggling families? It’s revealed in the newly created Republican Platform. Under “Protecting our Families,” it states “the two most effective forces in reducing crime and other social ills are strong families and caring communities.” What will Republican government do about it? Nothing.

The Platform explains, “government bureaucracy is no longer a credible approach to helping those in need.” Their answer? “Faith based organizations, which tend to have a greater degree of success than others in dealing with problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence.”

No disrespect intended, but while Sundays see America’s churches and pro-football stadiums full, so are homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food shelves, hospital emergency rooms (with uninsured sick people), and prisons. We have the highest child poverty among our peers, as well as the highest prison inmate rate in the world. When families fail and kids fall through the cracks into crime, the monetary losses to our nation are catastrophic.

To enlighten Mitt, it is the liberal influence that has erected strong family support proven effective again and again in all Western democracies – except in America.

Want proof? Go to the experts, the professionals who work for The Project on Global Working Families at the Institute for Health and Social Policy, a collaboration at Harvard and McGill Universities. “We (the U.S.) are enormously behind on every single measure of protecting working families,” according to Director Jody Heymann. Family breakdown in America is not a surprise, it is the expected outcome.

Will John McCain and Norm Coleman do anything about our shameful infant mortality rate, 36th in the world, or will Barack Obama and Al Franken? It’s not even close.

And what about families without health insurance? Paid maternity and parental leave? Women’s guaranteed right to breastfeed at work? Universal access to pre-school child care? Guaranteed paid sick leave for illness and family care? All of our peers provide these vital benefits to support families. Most of them mandate five or six weeks of paid vacations, providing families with valuable bonding experiences. And nearly all guarantee that a full time job provides pay that keeps a family out of poverty. We guarantee none of these.

When the Democrats passed a bill that would cut uninsured children by two thirds, the Republicans voted to uphold President Bush’s cowardly veto. Conservatives vigorously oppose guaranteed living wage legislation. Right wing think tanks like American Enterprise Institute and Cato argue that the minimum wage should be abolished.

While greedy and ethically retarded executives at collapsed giants Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch get $multi-million golden parachutes to country clubs, poor families who steal food and clothes out of the desperation of poverty get the book thrown at them.

The GOP family value rhetoric is fraudulent. Millions of American families are struggling in poverty and it isn’t even acknowledged in their spanking new platform. Working families are on their own. The Bush administration prescription for the economy in free fall? Hundreds of billions to bail out Wall Street, and stale breadcrumbs for working families.

You think Minnesota has a better record? Think again. Between 2002 and 2007 under a conservative Pawlenty-led government, Minnesota has fallen backward in 10 measures of Child and Family Services performance, none meeting the national standards.

If you love your country and care about its future, you should support community investments in our human capital, the single most important resource any nation has.

It isn’t liberals who don’t have a clue about family values. It’s conservatives who preach them and then divert government welfare to Wall Street and fat corporations instead.

David Strand was a volunteer Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem

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