We are Americans. We measure and self-evaluate ourselves in a world we construct actively and incessantly, one filled with followers, requests, and online polls instead of the human relationships of the past. We worship at the altars of the convenient distraction. We believe ourselves audacious to invest our hope in a man who has no ideology that is rightly understood as audacious or hopeful. We place our trust in the mastery of unchecked government, that one example of eternal life on earth, because we have no children to care for us as we get old.
We have accepted a very great lie. Call it the Persistence of the Founders — the idea that Americans are by their nature exceptional, and are always making their nation so, the myth that this exceptionalism is not something that can be lost. We were wrong: American greatness is no birthright, but constantly forged in adversity, in conflict, in fearfulness and flame.
The part of his argument where he discusses our reproductivity has elicited some no altogether friendly responses from conservatives, to which he replies here. Here’s the core of the critique:
I’d also like to push back against Mr. Domenech’s culturally driven arguments, which seem to assume that delaying marriage and family imply devaluing those things. Maybe that’s happening, but I’d argue that the opposite is going on too. Young people in the middle and upper classes in America delay marriage partly out of a desire to avoid the rampant divorces that plagued their parents’ generation. The conventional wisdom that some folks "just married to [sic] young" leads to years long relationships wherein the participants are cautiously "making sure" that they are "ready to get married." They may be right to do so!
Reproducing is even more fraught. Young people raised by relatively prosperous Baby Boomers know that if they reproduce in their early twenties, it is possible -- even likely -- that they’ll be unable to afford their children all the same advantages they remember. Even among my Catholic high school friends who married young and desire children, there is a widespread practice of waiting many years to do so, a period that is one of financial and emotional preparation. The middle class notion of what it means to be a good parent is simply much higher today than it was in the past.
Conor Friedersdorf, the author of the critique, thinks that delaying marriage is a "responsible" reaction to the prevalence of divorce and to economic uncertainty. It’s certainly not a bold reaction, and I’m tempted to regard it--at least in some of the instances I’ve watched from afar--as evidence of an immature fear of commitment, especially on the part of men. All of which is to say that I’m leaning in Domenech’s direction on this one.