Glenn Sacks has written a stimulating essay on What Will the Obama Presidency Mean for Fathers?, with a list of positives and negatives. He invites us to contribute to the discussion, which I shall do here:
Positive: As Governor of Iowa, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promoted custody reform that would strengthen families. The rest of his record on family issues is highly questionable.
Negative: Like all presidents, Obama will reward his supporters with jobs, money, and power. His principal constituencies are the bar associations, social work bureaucracies, and feminist organizations. Regardless of his rhetoric about “restraint,” Obama will reward these friends with federal appointments and federal spending. They will take up positions directing the welfare agencies such as HHS, housing, and education. These officials will be very hostile to fathers, parents generally, and intact families. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – both of whom push an aggressively feminist agenda –will help distribute the largesse.
The spending spre-- uh, the economic stimulus will massively exacerbate all this. Administration economists are talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars for its own sake and are simply looking for programs to spend it all on. With the country very unwilling to engage in foreign adventurism, the vast bulk of the spending will be domestic. It will go to programs that further erode families, encourage single-parenthood, and criminalize fathers.
Obama and his court intellectuals have rationalized a free-for-all for leftist programs (and perhaps some apparently conservative ones, to diffuse opposition by ensuring that conservatives too have a place at the trough). It is a prescription for a massive federal patronage machine, centralization of power, and destruction of constitutional protections. This is precisely what was begun by the New Deal and has been steadily growing ever since. The present administration starts way ahead of where the New Deal began. It is a power grab on an unprecedented scale.
All this will do little or nothing to stimulate the economy but, on the contrary, run the economy into the ground. As more fathers become unemployed, they will be divorced, unable to pay “child support,” and jailed without trial.
Few will notice immediately the expanding power of the already burgeoning and authoritarian federal police forces: child protection, child support enforcement, the various agencies dealing with "domestic violence" such as the Justice Department. The welfare state is already becoming a police state, but now many more parents will be criminalized and incarcerated. The incarcerations will seldom be reported in the news, and there will be no information about them, as there is none now, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Positive: Obama is good to his children.