Votes Only for Parents?

Terry H. Schwadron

July 29, 2021

Unless one is really pursuing politics for a living, the rest of us generally try to avoid spending actual time outside of elections thinking about individual partisan candidates.

That is, unless they do and say things that are just so nuts that it seems to question whether we live on the same planet.

Enter venture capitalist and Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, the emergent conservative in next year’s race, who has landed on a core issue: Democrats have “become controlled by people who don’t have children.”

Thus, as he explained in a speech to the Future of American Political Economy Conference hosted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the politicians running the country do not have a “personal indirect stake” in improving it because they do not have children.

It’s not quite Jewish space lasers starting wildfires in the West or seeing Capitol rioters as “loving people,” but it comes close.

Vance — who himself has had to adopt a belated love for the Donald Trump he used to detest, noted that potential future presidential candidates in the Democratic Party, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, all do not have children. Why, he asks publicly, is it just a “normal fact of American life that the leaders of our country should be people who don’t have a personal indirect stake in it via their own offspring, via their own children and grandchildren,” Vance asked, noting that he was not referring to people who are unable to have children.

In Vance’s world, apparently only pols with kids can think seriously about national debt or committing U.S. troops to foreign locations or whether we should erect Border Walls.

By the way, George Washington had no children of his own, but did have a step-daughter via Martha.

Children, No Children?

Wait a minute! Isn’t the Republican line on Democrat Joe Biden a constant near-impeachment because he does have a son, Hunter, who has an unerring ability to stick his business foot in his famous-name-influenced mouth?

And is Vance really arguing here that Trump, who loves to claim that he knows nothing of how government actually works or how policy is made, is more responsible because he has three millionaire children who run his businesses and violate every ethical line that government lawyers can invent?

Skipping over the fact that Harris has two step-children from her husband Doug Emhoff’s previous marriage, the Vance doctrine seems to be that parents who go to the polls should have more power than adults who do not have children.

“When you go to the polls in this country as a parent, you should have more power, you should have more of an ability to speak your voice in our Democratic republic, than people who don’t have kids,” he said. “Let’s face the consequences and the reality; if you don’t have as much of an investment in the future of this country, maybe you shouldn’t get nearly the same voice.”

So, parents with several children should get yet more votes, right?

Maybe the Republican stereotype of a welfare queen mom with a hive-ful of kids should then have multiple votes as opposed to say a single, unattached big financial guy and would-be predator like, say, Jeffrey Epstein, who long was befriended by Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. Is that what Vance wants?

In a conversation with conservative media personality Charlie Kirk earlier this year, Vance explained, “We need more American children because American families, American children are good for us,” Vance said. “They make fathers more invested — there’s all kinds of research on this. They make our economy more dynamic. They make fathers more empathetic, more invested in their communities.” And so they should have more votes?

But, he noted, he is always accused of being racist for elevating new children over population increases through immigration because “just no comparison between the positive effects of children and the positive effects of an immigrant.” Immigrants apparently don’t have children, but then again, non-citizens don’t vote at all, unless Donald Trump is counting their imagined ballots as part of fraudulent elections.

So, is Vance just arguing that we need more White children, more White politicians with children, or is he actually ready to acknowledge that demographic shifts show more children in non-white families?

Who’s Got Children?

Just as a reality check, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducts a biennial national General Social Survey, a broad poll of Americans on a range of social issues that includes questions specifically about politics and children. The most recent data says conservatives are more likely to have children than liberals — and are also more likely to have more children — but not children at home, because conservatives also tend to be older.

Families with children at home is more or less equal between liberals and conservatives.

None of that explains how people vote or how they view the current “culture wars.”

Do you have to have aging parents to be able to vote about Medicare? Do you have to be an excluded voter of color to consider national questions of voting rights? If we were really voting with children in mind, wouldn’t we be seeing wide votes of support in Congress for widening child-care, adding to food stamps, public education and health care.

As a party, Republicans, kids or not, obviously don’t think so on any of these issues.

Maybe Vance should be braced on his support for actual policies relating to the well-being of children and the future, from economic justice to climate.

Vance believes that conservatives “have lost every single major cultural institution in this country. . . Think about it. Big finance, Big Tech, Wall Street, the biggest corporations, the universities, the media and the government. . . There is not a single institution in this country that conservatives currently control, but there is one of them, just one, that we might have a chance of actually controlling in the future and that’s the constitutional republic that our founders gave us,” Vance said. “My argument is that we need to fight woke capital, woke corporations and the governments that enable them, because we can’t win anywhere else.”

Maybe we should skip the middleman and give the votes directly to kids.

Vance said that the culture war is a “class war” against middle- and working-class Americans, and also claimed that it’s an economic war against conservatives.

Vance wrote a memoir called Hillbilly Elegy, about Appalachian values of his Kentucky family and their relation to the social problems of his hometown of Middletown, Ohio, where his mother’s parents moved when they were young. He now is a principal at Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, Mithril Capital, far from Appalachia, where he took interest in biotechnology issues before entering a primary to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman.

Thankfully, he has two sons and therefore can be a serious candidate.

Journalist, musician, community volunteer