CPAC Panelists Debate Whether State of the American Family is Stronger now Than It Was 30 Years Ago

American Principles Project Executive Director Terry Schilling (R) speaks during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland on Feb. 28, 2020. He was joined on the panel by Mary Eberstadt (middle-right), Matthew Spalding (M), Rachel Greszler (middle-left) and David Harsanyi (National Review). | The Christian Post

The state of the American family was among the many topics of discussion at the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference, with some speakers disagreeing about whether the strength of American families is better now than it was decades ago. 

On Thursday afternoon, expert panelists took part in a breakout session titled “The Future of Family” in which they discussed the ongoing debate in conservative circles over what the government’s role should be in helping families grow.

“I think family is in better shape now than it was 35 years ago,” David Harsanyi, a senior writer with the National Review, said at the start of the discussion.

Harsanyi, who describes himself as a “classical liberal” with socially conservative views, pushed back against a notion that families in America today are in trouble.

“The foundation of the debate that people have on this today … I don’t accept that the family is in huge trouble,” said Harsanyi, who used to write for The Federalist. “Obviously, we are not in a utopia. There are problems, but I think we are doing better.”

Harsanyi was asked if he is upset by the changing sense of what defines a family.

“People probably call me Libertarian on many things but I am also sort of socially conservative in the sense that I believe in science and life and protecting life and protecting families,” he said. “So yeah, that upsets me. But I am not sure we are going to be making people more moral by having more government. I have never seen that happen.”

Terry Schilling, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank American Principles Project, pushed back on Harsanyi’s assertion that the state of families in America is the best that it has been.

“I completely disagree with that,” Schilling said. “The two stats that I would point to is the record-low marriage rate and birth rates that we have.”

Schilling contended that families today generally are “not forming” as well as they used to.

“When they do form, they form with record amounts of student loan debt, they are putting off having children longer and longer and longer,” Schilling stressed, adding that having children and getting married is “important to the pathway” to strong family life in the U.S.

“Those are the two statistics that I am very concerned about … from an economic standpoint,” he added.

As more people are getting married later in life, Schilling also noted that online pornography is a serious “cultural threat” to families.

“We have an online pornography industry that is completely unregulated, except for maybe child porn,” Schilling said. “If you think about it, today an 11-year-old with a smartphone has access to more hardcore pornography than even the worst of the worst porn consumers of the 1970s.”

“They have it instantly, they have it privately. There is no tracking it,” Schilling continued. “What that leads to is that young men don’t really need women as much as they used to.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith