One of the reasons the GOP has such a hard time selling “family values”, at least to the mass political market, is that those values have slowly changed over recent history.
Johnathan Fitzgerald in the DBeast chronicles the slow, steady drip of decay:
The sitcoms from the 1980s and 90s were on the leading edge of this shift. What those cheesy shows with nontraditional family arrangements like Full House or Who’s the Boss were doing back then was preparing the American public for a radical redefinition of family in a safe—and comical—environment.
But the shift in the moral landscape goes back much further. Television in the 1950s portrayed a stringent vision of a traditional family—think Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, or Father Knows Best—shows that one can easily imagine playing on repeat in the Romney living room. But it wasn’t long before new sitcoms appeared and began to show the cracks and break the model. In the 1960s, Bewitched, The Addams Family, and The Munsters maintained the traditional family model, but used nontraditional characters, a witch and an assortment of monsters, to change the formula. In shows like Family Affair, The Andy Griffith Show, and My Three Sons, single parents—because of death, not divorce—appeared for the first time.
And then the “family” became a vehicle for writers with agendas:..
In many ways, the 1970s revealed just how influential the primetime sitcom could be. In a recent review in The New York Times of the DVD box set of the popular 70s sitcom All in the Family, Neil Genzlinger noted that, “before All in the Family sitcoms were largely something to tune in for escape and reassurance. But as of Jan. 12, 1971, when All in the Family had its premiere on CBS as a midseason replacement, comedies suddenly had permission to be relevant.”
…as well as reflect the results of the agenda with a big happy face:
And in the 1980s and 90s, popular culture began to explore dysfunction in families, as in The Simpsons and Married With Children, both objects of consternation from the GOP at the time.
The whole thing is worth a read, not because it’s especially prescient – doy, it’s history – but as food for thought to explore the following question:
Conservatives ceded the culture war to liberals forty years ago. How much has America suffered for it?