Red Families v. Blue Families identifies a new family model geared for the post-industrial economy. Rooted in the urban middle class, the coasts and the "blue states" in the last three presidential elections, the Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready. By contrast, the Red Family Paradigm--associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America--rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis.This political perspective on the family is a big part of my book, The Daddy Shift--a fact that puzzled, and perhaps alienated, some of my readers. Everything in the book points to the last chapter, which argues that the "daddy shift"--the expansion of good fathering from pure breadwinning to include caregiving as well--necessitates a shift in law and public policy. I end the book by asking dads who have made the private shift to help make that public shift happen, to allow their caregiving experience to drive their political participation and inform their votes.
Of course, some folks would have preferred that I stopped with the (genuinely moving and complex) stories about stay-at-home dads and breadwinning moms. But since finishing The Daddy Shift, I've come to feel even more strongly that a specific political agenda flows from the emergence of what Cahn and Carbone call "the Blue Family Paradigm." We need policies, such as paternity leave and flextime, that will help us to be the fathers that we want to be.
Indeed, Red Families v. Blue Families makes a very compelling, research-tested case for the idea that the kind of family you're in is tightly linked to where you live, how much education you have, what you do for work, how much money you make--and how you vote come election time.
Does that sound unlikely to you? Well, I hope you'll join us this Sunday the 18th--you'll be able to put your toughest questions directly to the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, who will be on hand to answer. The book salon will be the top blog entry at Firedoglake from 2-3 pm PST / 5-7 pm EST, and you'll be able to participate by posting comments.