U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris does not have any biological children and grew up middle-class. Meanwhile, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, a Mormon with five kids, was born into wealth and has substantially increased it for his family.
Their lives prefigure very different futures for the country and its children.
If those in the U.S. who are privileged enough to be able to follow Romney’s example of having unearned family privileges and a large family choose to do so, then the entire country will eventually arrive at an ecologically degraded and unsustainable future, as well as a crowded political system, where the day-to-day reality of life is defined by massive inequity driven by family wealth. The increase in population, which is “rising unevenly,” is one of the contributing factors leading to an “unprecedented” decline in nature that is “accelerating” species extinction rates, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The continued and unchecked growth of the human population might exacerbate this situation further.
Meanwhile, if we follow Harris’ example, and especially if she uses her earned wealth to further social justice in her current position, we arrive at a more sustainable future and an optimal world population, where every vote counts, and privilege is earned rather than inherited.
Which of these two futures do parents want for their children?
Parents have a right to protect their children’s future by not following the example and choices of people like Mitt Romney, whose life is like a microcosm of what it means to exploit the environment and capitalize on one’s birth position.
In March, the Senate passed legislation, urged on by Romney, that while appearing to lift children out of poverty, is probably better characterized as an attempt to nudge people to have more kids. The legislation does nothing to truly eliminate child poverty by moving toward recognizing every child’s right to a fair start in life and does not help to promote smaller and more sustainable families amid the climate crisis or provide solutions for preventing future population-driven pandemics. The legislation also does nothing to address fundamental problems that will continue to grow with the push for more babies. It does nothing to prevent child abuse and the horrific acts of torture some children continue to face at the hands of their caregivers. It does nothing to restore the natural world that previous generations enjoyed and that is likely to be stolen from future generations if nothing is done to remedy the situation.
What can people in the U.S. do to fight for their rights to a natural and democratic future when even a more progressive Congress ignores them? While many have lauded President Joe Biden’s plans as a modern-day New Deal, there is also a need to envision a more physical and intergenerational revision of the social contract where the people of this country can prioritize children’s right to an ecologically and socially fair start in life simply because future children represent the constant restarting of the agreement. The rights of the children, in this sense, override all competing rights, including the rights of the uber-wealthy—like those paying millions to be space tourists—to hoard resources that could instead be used for improving family planning.
This change can come from the grassroots, not just by telling political leaders what’s important to them, but also by engaging in their communities to spread information about the connection between ensuring a better future for children in terms of climate, democracy, and other opportunities. Given what’s at stake, it would be immoral not to recreate the social contract to make it fair from the start and move the country as a whole a bit more toward making choices that are represented by Harris rather than Romney.
Regardless of the action that people take and the example that they choose to follow, between Harris and Romney, they now have starkly different examples of the kinds of lives children can lead, and what they represent for the future of humanity at large.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.