Parenting is hard enough, now this.
In case you missed it (ICYMI) click here for the link to the story making the news rounds today. Here is the summary: The ten year old and six year old children of Alexander and Danielle Meitiv were playing the park, alone, near their Maryland home when agents of Child Protective Services picked them up. When the kids didn’t come home on time, the parents became worried and searched all evening for their children. Eventually they found out their children were at CPS, and around 10:30 that evening were allowed to leave with their children, but only after they agreed to sing a “safety-plan” in which the promised to not leave their children unattended at all.
The juicy bit is that this happened back in January too, and it has sparked a big debate about the issue of child safety and unsupervised play.
I have some opinions about all of this, but that is not what is on my mind this morning. What I am thinking about is how the nature of the debate on such issues has changed dramatically during my life time. Here is what I am talking about: If we had told this story back in the glorious 70s or 80s, it would have been assumed that it was Republican conservatives forcing values down the throat of culture by making those children go home because children loose on the roads and in the parks was dangerous, they might learn something to liberate their minds or something. It would have been Democratic liberals who would have triumphed the cause of letting these children play–the kids are alright–they can have their own adventures to self-discovery and knowledge without the constant shadow of mom and dad and the totalitarian state breathing down their neck.
Today that those views have flipped completely. It is the liberal agenda to let the government control families, education, and distill what is and is not acceptable knowledge, what is proper language, and how a person should think. To the contrary, it is the conservative agenda to rail against the nanny state, the intrusion of big government, and to espouse the reliability of the family and the primacy of the individual even if there are obvious dangers in such a course of action.
If this news story had happened back in the 70s or 80s, liberals would have been up-in-arms over this kind of governmental abuse, while conservatives would have probably accused the family of being communist or something.
The change in perspective of this is probably a reflection of the change of direction that civil discourse has taken in the United States. It is no longer about liberal or conservative, but about progressive and (little L) libertarian. These are the cultural ideals that will shape the future. Progressives generally believe that government should regulate every aspect of life to make certain that everyone gets the same. Libertarians generally believe that people should govern themselves with as little intrusion from the government as possible.
Currently, progressives have landed in the Democratic party, while libertarians have settled into the Republican party. Yet neither one is completely at home in either. I think the next few years of elections could prove interesting, especially as technology makes libertarians more prevalent and the growth of government colors the imagination of new voters who don’t remember anything other than the officially sanctioned thought police.
image from http://www.wusa9.com