American Renewal

America Needs Strong Families To Thrive. That Means Strong Unions

Photo by Everett Historical/Shutterstock, Edits by Grae Stafford/DCNF

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Justin Redemer Contributor
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Many of our political conversations remain superficial, not considering the purposes behind the things that we argue over. What should the minimum wage be? Who should be married to whom and should there be a limit on how many spouses one has? Which substances that produce a mind-altering effect should we legalize? While important debates, these are secondary concerns to an understanding of human flourishing.

Societies don’t exist because of freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, or even freedom of speech, that most cherished and beloved American right. Societies exist because families exist — families are societies. We are born into families and flourish (or not) within them. Without families there is no foundational structure upon which to build a unified and coherent vision of the future. Children without parents are statistically more likely to suffer from mental disorders, physical self-harm and substance abuse. It’s no coincidence that an alarming number of children who grow up orphaned or from broken homes end up within the octopus-like grip of our modern judicial system. If our understanding of God and temporal authority is first experienced in our homes, is it any wonder if those who grow up in fractured homes project that distrust toward school administrators, police officers and judges?

Just as our efforts to stamp out terrorism overseas have at times created an ideal petri dish for more terrorism, so for every man incarcerated we produce the next generation of criminals. A child has had the one most necessary person, the father, removed from his life. It is inequality writ large on life’s only stage. And the irony of it all is that though we are the freest country that has ever existed, or so we tell ourselves, we also keep more citizens penned up than any other.

Families are not a panacea, but a preventative, keeping firm limitations on the potential need for such stringent autocratic measures. Much like a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, families will not fight off the cancer once it has taken root, but they will create an environment less conducive to its formation. (RELATED: Make Baby-Making Great Again: Give Parents A Baby Bonus)

Stable families result in the establishment and preservation of stable social structures. We see this all the time in America. Find families that care about education in the home and invest (not just money, but time and energy) in their children and you will find high performing schools. Youth sports teams with significant financial and parental investment tend to be the most successful. Neighborhoods suitable for raising children are not so because the houses are nice, in fact, the opposite is true: If a house is inhabited by broken families and broken people, the exterior will begin to resemble the internal degradation.

In the same way, stable families create stable children who in turn contribute to and establish stable social structures. You can’t create what you don’t know. Children that grow up without stability will have a much harder time finding their way into stability than those who understand it implicitly. To paraphrase Socrates to Gorgias: How will you teach them Justice if you don’t understand Justice–will they have to know Justice before they come to learn it from you?

The question is this: If families are of such bedrock importance to both creating and sustaining stable social structures, what creates the conditions wherein stable families may thrive? The answer is simple: unions.

Like most the political conversations mentioned earlier, the conversations around unions have remained surprisingly superficial. They tend to deal only with secondary concerns: Will they create competitiveness in the workforce? Will union workers become lazy? Will unions drive up the cost of goods? Will they cut corporate profits and cause limited growth in the stock market?

These questions fail to consider the metaphysics of nationhood. Families create societies, and societies create economies by their trading, buying, and selling. As households attempt to secure their own private goods, they also band together in government to ensure the pursuit of a households’ private goods is also pointed toward the common good. Questions regarding unions and the economy are best answered by seeing if they uphold families and a family-centric society.

Consider what is required for a single-family to exist. A home to live in, continuity of employment, a man and a woman — or for the sake of argument, two men or two women — coming together to establish a locale where they can feed, clothe, and support children. Without having secured the good of families, second-order questions about economic efficiency are unimportant. And it is unions which are necessary to secure that good.

Unions provide stable employment with steady pay that allows workers to live more than just paycheck to paycheck. Unions also provide steady places of employment so that workers are not constantly uprooted, going from one town to another, one state to another, one country to another searching for work. As Tucker Carlson, a Daily Caller co-founder, caustically disputed with free-market libertarian Ben Shapiro on his show in November 2018, “Capitalism asks you to leave your parents’ graves and the town you grew up in to move to some soulless city and become a cog in some thing.” There is emptiness at the heart of a system that values efficiency and profits at the expense of human existence. (RELATED: Corporatism And Solidarity: Why China Thrives And America Suffers)

Unions provide necessary counterweights to the giants of banking and finance, also necessary partners in a well-functioning economy, but again, not the good we seek. The mean of a well-functioning, socially enhancing economy is to have a balance of power between those who capitalize industry and those who do the work.

This is not a Marxist philosophical argument. We should not do away with ownership or seize the means of production for workers. But it is in the best interest of all that workers increase their opportunities to create a stable and productive life for themselves and those they love. On this note, there should be wide agreement within the conservative business community. Republicans and conservatives who claim interest in the common good, but stand against unions, not only undo their own project but also support Marx’s claims against capitalism. They assume the role of some Grendel who, between crunching on human snacks, explains to the horrified villagers that this is all for their own good.

So much of our cultural vision has been conquered by the fake belief that there is no inequality of being. We fail to acknowledge that a “knowledge economy” leaves out a vast majority of people needed to create families for the sake of social stability. If one of our children is unable to meet the demands of the “knowledge” economy and instead seeks a career in manufacturing within a union-stabilized economy, he could still build a life for himself and his children worth living.

It is not that we fail to see this — everyone in the professional-managerial class knows this to be true. We just can’t admit to seeing this. We are so ideologically committed to equality that we can’t bring ourselves to admit (even to admit it to ourselves in the silence of our own mind!) that most people will never be members of our “knowledge” class, or that they will never have a chance at earning as much money as others. We cannot admit that their jobs will be harder on their bodies and less cognitively interesting, that they will have harder lives. In short, it is difficult for us to admit Christ’s admonition that “the poor you will always have with you.”

With manufacturing exported overseas and financial markets soaring while labor markets spit out millions of unemployed, unions have no platform to balance themselves out against our financial interests. The balance has been tipped, and any conception of an ordered good has been left far behind. Is it any wonder that we struggle with virtue? Conservative websites publish pro-pornography pieces while liberals applaud the increasingly despotic and totalitarian intrusion of government into every facet of our daily lives.

Instead, as evidenced so clearly in Chris Arnade’s chronicle of “back row America,” Dignity, many Americans have been disenfranchised, robbed of the hope for a good life, stability for themselves, the ability to raise intact families, and robbed of hope for their children. This goes a long way in explaining the massive increase in both drug-related deaths and general deaths of despair over the past 20 years. These deaths are a bellow for help from the American heartland, inner cities, and other forgotten neighborhoods, a cry from destabilized communities searching for someone to save them from the enveloping waves of despair. (RELATED: Americans Need Jobs. Let’s Create Some)

Not only do unions provide financial stability to workers, they also do so for retirees. Union pension funds allow the individual man or woman to focus on the things of life that matter. They can focus on their work, their families, the upkeep of their house and yard, and the building of their churches, not the increases in their stock portfolios or seeking out the lowest cost healthcare provider.

Some right-wing ideologues like to argue not merely that unions are unnecessary, but that pensions should be placed in the hands of individuals so they can manage their own financial futures. But is that the good toward which we would like to order society? An individual who may be unsuited for our “knowledge” economy told that instead of focusing on the foundational elements of a functioning society — their family — they should be checking market prices, watching business news, and trading stocks in ways that they themselves don’t understand?

This financially focused pseudo-meritocratic rat race will not and cannot lead us toward the good life. Instead, we should focus on true happiness. As Aristotle says, “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” Good people, living decent lives with sufficient external goods will find themselves with the chance to be happy.

This should be the Republican platform. Are these not conservative principles: food, shelter, good cheer, celebrations and reasons for them, children and marriage?

It is absurd that free market, libertarian Republicans cannot see that their economic malpractice of shipping industry overseas while allowing unions to fall into the hands of the Democrats has created massive social instability. They have failed families.

Republican senators like Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley who see the future of an America First economic reality should champion the Union cause and lead us into a 21st century of American Industry, American Stability, and American Dominance. As Tucker Carlson stated so emphatically in his “coming out” monologue about the American worker, “We are not servants of our economic system. We are not here to serve as shareholders. We are human beings and our concerns are real.”

Justin Redemer is a High School English teacher, English Department Chair, Head Varsity Football Coach, and HEA Union member. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and four kids. He is a hunter, a gardener, and the men’s ministry leader at his local church.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.