Why did family issues become more of a political issue in the 1990s ?
*the increase in single-parent households
*concerns over child care
*factors that influenced the passage of the family and medical leave act
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Part of the reason why the notion of "family values" became so important was a matter of political expediency. The Presidential Election of 1992 had George H.W. Bush and his vice president Dan Quayle against Bill Clinton. The primary drive against Clinton was that he was not of sound values and judgment. The family values debate took on multiple forms, raising a level of questioning regarding Clinton's marijuana use in college and his indiscretions in both marriage and as Governor of Arkansas. Both Republicans offered the same argument against proponents of rap music, specifically Time- Warner Records and the rapper Ice- T. Such a debate helped to obscure the discussion about the lack of economic security in America at the time as well as the new role of America in a post- Cold War setting.
The 1990's followed on the heels of the Reagan Revolution of the 1980's, which marked a return to more traditional so-called "family values" which included the sanctity of marriage (in the face of rising divorce rates) and more conservative religious views on family. At the same time, the gap between the rich and poor grew considerably under Reagan, as did the number of households where both parents worked.
As Clinton took over in the Presidency, there was pressure from conservative groups (Focus on the Family, for one) for the government to make it easier to stay married, and to have children. Clinton recognized he could appease both these traditionalists and the working class by passing the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was pretty smart of him politically.
I think that one factor that has not been addressed is the swinging of the social pendulum after the upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the pendulum in American society swung fairly wildly to the left. The counterculture and the sexual revolution and such were part of a huge change in American values.
When such huge changes occur, there is typically a backlash against them. The 1980s and 1990s were when this backlash started to happen. For this reason, traditional values made a big comeback during this time.
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