I was quoted in an Associated Press story that ran today about the role of the families of candidates in political campaigns. I pointed out what is, of course, obvious: candidates feature their families in campaigns because that is what voters like to see. And why do they like to see it? I mentioned two things:
First, voters want to know that a candidate is just like them--or rather (I didn't say this in the story) they want to know that the candidate is like how they would like to see themselves, and most people see themselves in terms of a traditional family.
Secondly, candidates know that voters consider traditional families healthy and normal, and that's the way they want to appear to voters: as healthy and normal. The Current Wisdom has it that the traditional family is obsolete. Politicians know better. If that were really the case, then political ads would be completely different from what, in fact, they are. Notice that even openly gay candidates do not feature picture of their boyfriends (or, in the case of lesbians, girlfriends) on their campaign literature--even in liberal districts. Why? Because it would prove unpopular with the electorate.
In fact, you can almost completely ignore polls and studies when it comes to what people think about something. All you have to do is to see what politicians are appealing to. Candidates have a much more perceptive finger on the pulse of their electorate. They are out talking with real people on a regular basis. Politicians are a much better barometer of where people are on an issue than any artificial measure our statisticians have come up with.
And what does the political barometer tell us? That most people still consider the traditional family is the ideal.