Pete's Paternity Perturbation and Dudebro Conservatism
"Conservative" voices are not making the point they think they are making
There has been a lot of focus in the conservative internet sphere recently about the paternity leave of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during the transportation crisis regarding supply chains.
The Department of Transportation revealed late Thursday that Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been on paternity leave since mid-August amid the massive ongoing supply-chain crisis that is threatening the timely delivery of everyday consumer goods and holiday gifts, according to a new report.
Matthew Kaminski @KaminskiMKThey didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies. https://t.co/LqXOJOnnbJ
There is a lot to unpack there and in other places on the internet. A lot of what we are seeing in online discourse has to do with men on Twitter saying a variation on three common themes:
Buttigieg should immediate end his paternity leave to address the supply chain crisis;
As a gay couple who is adopting a child Buttigieg should not be entitled to paternity leave; and,
Men should not need to maximize the amount of telework they take when they have a child or adopt a child.
Now, let's be clear here; Pete Buttigieg was a terrible choice to be the Secretary of Transportation. Being the Mayor of a medium size town was no qualification for this role (or to be President, for that matter). Anybody whose focus is only on cycling and mass transit as viable transportation solutions lives in a liberal bubble
But all of the points that are being made here are self-defeating arguments.
Talking Point #1: Buttigieg should immediate end his paternity leave to address the supply chain crisis
Pete Buttigieg is a mid-size city mayor. He has no specialized experience in supply chains, trains, shipping, or any of the other issues that actually matter here. The Department of Transportation has plenty of experts who work in the Department who actually understand these issues at a level that far exceeds what virtually any Secretary of Transportation has;
There is a Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Polly Trottenburg, who is acting as the Secretary in Buttigieg's absence, much as he would if Buttigieg were to resign; the Deputy Secretary has the same amount of power and access that Buttigieg would have during Buttigieg's absence.
Deputy Secretary Trottenburg is a former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, served as Undersecretary of Transportation during the Obama Administration, and has served in leadership positions in for both the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She has far more experience in port operations and transportation logistics than a McKinsey consultant who never worked in transportation like Buttigieg.
Talking Point #2: As a gay couple who is adopting a child Buttigieg should not be entitled to paternity leave
This talking point sounds more like an anti-gay argument than it is anything else;
One of the things that pro-lifers have emphasized for years is that adoption is a viable option in lieu of abortion. There are already a number of hurdles that are in place for couples adopting a child. This argument surmises that "pro-life" conservatives who are making this case really don't think that adoption is important, despite the fact that some of the same people make arguments in that manner. It makes it seem like these people view adoption as "less than" biological parenthood
Talking Point #3: Men should not need to maximize the amount of telework they take when they have a child or adopt a child
There are men whose wives gave birth to biological children proud of the fact that they took limited leave when their wives had their child, regardless of the consequences to the wife or to the family dynamic;
This completely defeats conservative arguments about the importance of fatherhood and the importance of the nuclear family.
The number of so-called conservatives who are making these arguments runs in total opposition to a number of conservative talking points that focus on family values. For a party that focuses on fatherhood, there sure are a lot of fathers making a case that fatherhood is not important. For a party that focuses on promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion, there sure are a lot of pro-lifers who are making a case against adoption.
This entire thing sounds like more of an excuse to smack down Buttigieg as a gay Democrat than it is anything else.
Look, like a majority of the country I know that kids are best raised in a nuclear family with a mother and a father. Like most of the country, I'm not enthused about the idea of a child being raised by two fathers in a relationship that is outside what God intended for us.
But guess what? I'd much rather have a child raised by parents that love them instead of being stuck in an orphanage, a never ending stream of foster parents or, worst of all, being killed in utero.
This entire discourse regarding Buttigieg shows a hyperfocus by certain elements of the "new right" that are focusing on personal issues and fringe issues of culture war issues at at time where the Biden Administration is mishandling our economy. There are plenty of political points that can be scored right now talking about supply chain issues, spending, and inflation.
But instead of focusing on those issues, we have people on the internet pretending to be manly men about how little paternity leave they take.
What exactly do they hope to accomplish with this argument?
This is a perfect example of "Dudebro Conservatism", a stream of conservatism where people are all too willing to fight over minor, irrelevant points. That has been a key feature of conservative online discourse for over a decade now. But it is combined with this macho manly man ethos that some on the right like to pretend they have. They are the first to tell you how manly they are but, in all likelihood, are just beta males cosplaying online as tough guys. While Donald Trump is the ne plus ultra of this genre, he is hardly alone and there have been dudebro conservatives in the movement long before him.
Realistically, most of them just sound like assholes who are shitty fathers.
While I share everyone's frustration with the supply chain crisis and Buttigieg's presence as Secretary of Transportation, Buttigieg's paternity leave is not the cause of or the solution to the problem. What this entire discourse is, however, is a distraction from the real issues facing our country and an easy way to turn off voters who may otherwise be predisposed to conservative ideals.