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Is anyone in the Biden administration having an “are we the baddies?” moment yet? The administration is poised to yank lunch funding from any school that doesn’t adhere to the entire rainbow agenda. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect example of the left’s abandonment of the poor and working classes than literally taking food away from poor kids in order to force schools to allow males into the girls’ locker room.
Leftists used to see themselves as champions of the poor and working classes. They viewed government as a means to protect and provide for the economically vulnerable. They wanted to rein in the power of the rich, and to ensure a decent life for the ordinary working man and his family.
This was a winning political message for the Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his successors, even though the reality fell short of the promises. As those on the right pointed out, big government has inefficiencies, injustices, oppression, and corruption of its own. Nonetheless, conservatives are not opposed to all government welfare and regulation, and we can recognize some virtues in the left’s old economic vision, even if we remain skeptical of big government’s ability to achieve it.
The left used to dream of economic and social solidarity. Then sex broke the left. The sexual revolution suddenly had the left talking like the most radical individualists imaginable; solidarity, commitment, and obligations were abandoned if they got in the way of pursuing a good time in bed or pursuing the next romantic relationship.
Sexual Liberation over Solidarity
This was not entirely new; some of these currents had been circulating around the intellectual side of the left for a long time. Politically, as well as personally, there was also not a neat divide between Republicans and Democrats on social issues.
For example, back at the beginning of his career Joe Biden was, or pretended to be, anti-abortion. But the times, and political parties, change, and politicians such as Biden have changed with them. The left chose sexual liberation over solidarity, and the Democratic Party followed.
Abortion is the preeminent example of this; the subject causes socialists to suddenly talk like radical individualists. The shift between a sentiment of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” to radically libertarian assertions of individual autonomy would be jarring if we were not so used to it. But we have come to accept that there is a womb-shaped hole in the left’s understanding of solidarity.
The left’s prioritizing of sexual freedom over family duties and caring for others does not end there, of course. It extends throughout family life, and has been particularly harmful toward children, whose well-being is routinely sacrificed on the altar of adult desire.
Destroying Stable Families
We now take it for granted that parents are not necessarily committed to each other or to their children. We know that this culture of family instability has dire consequences for many children, and is a leading contributor to many social evils, but there is no political or social will to address the problem by restricting sexual and relational freedom. Of course, people across the pollical spectrum are guilty of this selfish approach to sex, but it is the left that has made this part of its ideological project.
The left aims for liberation from the permanence of family. For example, though children are seen as a choice that should be available on demand — hence the embrace of commercial surrogacy, which literally rents wombs and breeds children like livestock — under leftist policies families are also dissolvable at will, with, at most, financial obligations to fulfill. Requiring, or even just expecting, people to conform their lives, especially their sexual lives, to social norms that are directed toward family stability and flourishing is seen as tyrannical.
Leftists now see the locus of societal oppression less in terms of economic class than in terms of sex and gender. They believe that those who are most oppressed and in need of help are not those clad in rags, but in rainbows.
The Rainbow Rich over Regular Workers
Consequently, leftists view the state less as the protector of poor families than as the ally of sexual liberation, especially for LGBT-identified individuals, against the oppression of traditional family life and the social norms that sustain it. They increasingly see welfare and government programs as a means of freeing people from unchosen family obligations, rather than as a way to help strengthen families. This shift has coincided with the left becoming dominated by college-educated professionals, many of whom disdain the poor and working classes for their perceived social backwardness.
Evidence of this change in power from the regular workers to the rainbow rich is found in a multitude of areas, from the demands for student loan forgiveness to the soft-on-crime policies favored by well-off white progressives. Union-busters are even using diversity, equity, and inclusion as tools to keep workers from organizing.
The heart of today’s Democratic Party isn’t the union hall, but white-collar professionals with pride flags in their Twitter profiles. This class is eager to pressure everyone else into accepting their social views, especially as regards the rainbow agenda. Hence the order to take food from poor children to force schools to adhere to the whims of LGBT activists.
Nathanael Blake is a senior contributor to The Federalist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.