First came President Obama’s State of the Union address. Four times, at the start of the speech and at its conclusion, Obama repeated the phrase, “We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” He said, “My fellow Americans, we, too, are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times.”Anti-family politician do not directly say that they are anti-family. They try to re-define the family.
Second came Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, in which the governor, a Democrat, quoted his father, Mario Cuomo, who recently died. Governor Mario Cuomo had said, “those who made our history taught us, above all things, the idea of family; the idea of mutuality. The sharing, the benefits and burden, fairly for the good of all, it is an idea essential to our success and no state or nation that chooses to ignore its troubled regions and people while watching others thrive can call itself justified. We must be the family of New York feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings, reasonably, equitably, honestly, fairly, without regard to geography or race or political affiliation.”
Andrew Cuomo commented, “My father was right then and he is right now. That is the New York spirit. That is the New York essence.”
So the president is trying to tell us that all America is not just an extended metaphorical family, but “a strong, tight-knit one.” And the governor of the Empire State is claiming that New York, too, is a family—not even one full of nasty divorces or bitter sibling rivalries, but one characterized by sharing “fairly for the good of all.”
The problem with both these claims is that, not to put too fine a point on it, they are total nonsense.
The economist Friedrich Hayek saw this coming, as he did so much else. In his book The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, he warned, “If we were to apply the unmodified, uncurbed rules of the micro-cosmos (i.e., of the small band or troop, or of, say, our families) to the macro-cosmos (our wider civilisation), as our instincts and sentimental yearnings often make us wish to do, we would destroy it.”Karl Marx observed long ago that the Left will never achieve their goals unless they can destroy the nuclear family.
In other words, a society in which we try to treat everyone the way we’d treat our parents or our children just wouldn’t work. It would break down. Acknowledging this doesn’t make us unpatriotic or callous or somehow disloyal to the “New York spirit.” It just makes us realistic.
Plenty of us like the family members we have just fine, thank you; the last thing we need is tens or hundreds of millions more family members by virtue of presidential or gubernatorial edicts.