Oftentimes, especially after a tragedy, the instinctual reaction of a nation is to call upon the government to “do something.” But every once in a while, we’re reminded that the government cannot solve all of our problems. Our flaws run deeper and are too complex for a simple bill to fix.

This is the topic of a great new op-ed by Sen. Marco Rubio in The Daily Caller. In it, Rubio argues that in order to have a strong nation, you must have strong families. Unfortunately, most families in the United States are not doing well.

Rubio demonstrates that families, particularly working-class families, are suffering. He writes, “As Charles Murray documented in ‘Coming Apart,’ the percentage of American children living with both biological parents was identical for affluent and working-class families — 95% — in 1960. By 2005, a chasm had opened up, with 85% of affluent, and just 30% of working-class families, intact.”

He also notes the staggering increase of suicide among youths within the past decade. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 17 that the “youth suicide rate increased 56% in a decade.” The article notes that, “While the 10- to 14-year-olds had by far the lowest rate of suicides, that rate nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017.”

This increase is tragic and a symptom of the deep unrest and dissonance many Millennials and members of Generation Z feel. 

Rubio suggests two important points in addressing the cultural decline we are witnessing among working-class families. 

First, he believes that whatever the government can to do help alleviate the symptoms of this decline, it should do. Rubio mentions the use of tax laws to help easy the burden on families. He writes, “I’ve worked to expand the federal per-child tax credit and proposed that we create an option for parents to use their Social Security benefits for paid parental leave.”

Second, Rubio honestly assesses that the government cannot solve the entire problem. “While those proposals are important, they only serve to treat the symptoms, not the cause. They may make it more affordable to raise a family, but they do not tell young adults why they should take on the sacrifice that starting a family and raising children requires. We need deeper cultural revival to do that.” 

Indeed, while government policies are able to help families raise children monetarily, they cannot force a couple to have children. And according to a recent survey, the U.S. birth rate has fallen to a 32-year low. NPR reports, “The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births — representing a 2% drop from 2017. It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years.” One demographer at the University of Southern California stated, “It’s a national problem. The birthrate is a barometer of despair.” He continued telling NPR that with the roaring economy, birthrates should be climbing, yet they’re not.

Sen. Rubio also touted the importance of life with a hard-hitting message on abortion. “Marriage should be a lifelong commitment between two people. Married couples should have and raise children. Similarly, abortion at any stage of pregnancy ends a human life that has been created by God. That the declining strength of families has occurred during the same period since abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade should be no surprise. These truths should guide the interpretation of our existing laws.”

Rubio concluded his article reminiscing on the opportunity he’s had as a result of his parents’ hard work. “My parents’ hard work enabled me and my siblings to enjoy a secure, comfortable childhood and grow up into the people we are today. But without a productive economy that offered them those opportunities in the first place, things would be different. For the sake of the next generations of American families, it is incumbent on us to make sure that promise remains open.”

Let’s be thankful that some in our government, specifically Sen. Marco Rubio, recognize that strong families make a strong nation. Since we all have a family, strengthening our nation starts in your home!

Photo by Gage Skidmore