Teddy Roosevelt was convinced that the family was the fundamental cornerstone of society. Anything that eroded the family’s strength or vitality, anything that sought to undermine its authority or integrity, and anything that subverted its holy purpose or virtue was a dastardly threat to everything that he held to be good and right and true.
In his State of the Union message in 1905, he highlighted his grave concern for America’s deteriorating moral climate in general and the family’s diminished cultural relevance saying: “The transformation of the family is one of the greatest sociological phenomena of our time; it is a social question of the first importance, of far greater importance than any merely political or economic question can be.”
He went on to describe a rather simple agenda for protecting the family against the encroachment of those men and women he called “the foes of our own household.” He said: “There are those who believe that a new modernity demands a new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. All else is immorality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.”
His analysis was utterly scathing: “All these blatant sham reformers, in the name of a new morality, preach the old, old vice and self-indulgence which rotted out first the moral fiber and then even the external greatness of Greece and Rome.”
In a very real sense, Roosevelt was the original family values social conservative.
It is not surprising then, that when a new wave of Eugenic Racists and Child-Killing Abortionists made their way onto the American scene and into the public arena, Roosevelt was one of their chief opponents—in fact, apart from the hierarchy of the Catholic church, he was one of their only opponents.
He railed against their “frightful and fundamental immorality,” calling their cause a submission “to coldness, to selfishness, to love of ease, to shrinking from risk, and to an utter and pitiful failure in sense of perspective.” As he argued: “Artificially keeping families small inevitably involves prenatal infanticide and abortion--with all its pandering to self-indulgence, its shirking of duties, and its enervation of character.”
But he did not simply hurl invectives their way--he acted. He was instrumental in mobilizing Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives against the awful specter of Eugenic Child-Killing—building a solid coalition that was to resist the siren’s call of abortion for another three-quarters of a century. As he said: “The foes of our own household are our worst enemies; and we can oppose them, not only by exposing them and denouncing them, but by constructive work in planning and building reforms which shall take into account both the economic and the moral factors in human advance. We in America can attain our great destiny only by service; not by rhetoric, and above all not by insincere rhetoric, and that dreadful mental double-dealing and verbal juggling which makes promises and repudiates them, and says one thing at one time, and the directly opposite thing at another time. Our service must be the service of deeds.”
He went on to assert: “The most dangerous form of sentimental debauch is to give expression to good wishes on behalf of virtue while you do nothing about it. Justice is not merely words. It is to be translated into living acts.”
The infamous Eugenic Racist, Margaret Sanger, who founded the vast Planned Parenthood abortion network, rightly saw Roosevelt as “a holdover from the old Christian religion,” and thus a serious obstacle to her revolutionary program which called for “no Gods and no masters.” She railed against him as “a disgraceful blight upon any modern scientific nation’s intent to advance.”
For a leader who had staked his reputation and risked his career for the sake of traditional family values, that was high praise indeed. For, no commendation can be greater than the condemnation of one’s fiercest sworn enemies.