On One Hand

September 1, 2008

If Bristol Palin were a low-income black girl…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:55 pm
Tags: ,

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard white people attribute teen pregnancy rates among low-income African-Americans (and low-income people of all races) to irresponsibility, promiscuity or laziness – and say those people are living proof of the corruption of the welfare system.

But in less than a minute they’ll turn around for the pregnant 17-year-old daughter of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and say the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy speak highly of the Palin family.

So if Bristol Palin were a low-income black girl in high school…

If all it took to turn Right Wing America around is to have this happen to someone they like – someone they need to win, which marks the first time they’ve had the slightest desire to respect or understand someone who lives a different experience, then maybe there was a divine hand in John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as VP after all. In a heartbeat America has apparently reversed its position on judgment and condescension toward people in a difficult situation and will instead shower praise and support.

Bristol Palin comes from a presently upper-class family (daughter of a governor and vice presidential nominee, no less) and her child will be well taken care of. She and the baby’s father will probably get to go to college in spite of her situation, her family will offer concern to make sure her daughter’s haphazard marriage has a fair shot at working out, she can count on her hospital bills being paid for, and she will be fed and clothed even if she and her fiance can’t get straight to full-time jobs with benefits when the baby is born. (I don’t suppose they’d advocate that the Palins dump their daughter on the streets and let her fend for herself and her child with a minimum-wage job as a way to live up to their ideals about “personal responsibility.”)

And it follows that, to be fair, Conservatives will finally want to fund programs that will offer low-income mothers similar care and support – which means more food stamps, subsidized day care, free healthcare, rent assistance and childcare counseling.





    I think you’re blurring the distinction between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives within the Republican Party. There’s certainly condescension by some social conservatives circles toward inner-city, minority teen pregancies. And this feeds into their positions on abstinence, marriage and sex education.

    But, to me, social conservatives are not altogether pre-occupied with condemning the welfare state. That’s the primary fight of fiscal conservatives who use mostly a utilitarian or libertarian sort of critique against the welfare system.

    My point is that even if social conservatives became more sympathetic to teen pregancies in general that wouldn’t necessarily translate into support for welfare related policies. Fiscal conservatives would be unmoved and their same arguments would remain.

    Comment by sleepyreaderz — September 2, 2008 @ 5:35 am | Reply

    • Re: Comments

      I understand the distinction – and if you know any libertarians, the distinction will be pounded into your head.

      But I also a lot of evangelical Christians, and YES, DAMN, they are just as fiscally conservative as socially conservative. Republicans are generally in line on all fronts on that 28-or-so percent of the American population that still likes President Bush.

      Comment by ononehand — September 2, 2008 @ 6:20 am | Reply

      • Re: Comments

        But I also a lot of evangelical Christians, and YES, DAMN, they are just as fiscally conservative as socially conservative.

        No fiscal conservative worth his or her salt would support Mike Huckabee, but lots of evangelical Christians did. And as I think we’ve seen over the last seven years of Bush and Republican Congress budgets, social conservatives are all for free-spending big government when they’re in charge.

        Comment by jdhenchman — September 2, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

      • Re: Comments

        But there is some distinction between their spending and that of the Democrats; they’ll spend on the war or the military or the kinds of programs they like, but they dislike welfare. They are also fiercely anti-communist and just as likely to call moderate Democrats “socialist” as a libertarian is just for supporting higher education funding or better healtchare. When it comes to talking about poor people, the fiscal conservative streak emerges.

        Comment by ononehand — September 2, 2008 @ 11:57 pm

      • Re: Comments

        Hmm, I don’t see much of that – certainly from the Huckabee folks. If the Republican base was as fiscally conservative as you say, I think I would be a lot happier with the White House, the Congress, and the state of things these past few years.

        Comment by jdhenchman — September 3, 2008 @ 1:42 am

      • Re: Comments

        Pizzuit, I concede that many social conservatives will in varying contexts offering a standard reading of fiscal conservative positions, when it suits them. Especially when they are engaged in a strictly partisan fight.

        But, I maintain my original position and think that Henchman really hits at the perfect example. Huckabee’s popularity with social conservatives is a perfect example of the major fault line within the Republican coalition. Romney offers a compelling counterpart (loved by fiscal hawks and detested by evangelicals).

        Social conservative really do have their own priorities apart from fiscal conservatives. The alliance between them needs constant renewal in order to keep things going. But, as with anything, this is never easy because the sides are distinct. Social conservatives – in my intrepretation – are not fully committed to most fiscal conservative concerns.

        Comment by sleepyreaderz — September 3, 2008 @ 6:01 am

      • Re: Comments

        So you think that Mitt Romney and the other Romney Republicans will refuse to defend Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy?

        Comment by ononehand — September 3, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

      • Re: Comments

        I had upper-class Country Club Republicans in mind when I wrote the entry, not necessarily religous people.

        Comment by ononehand — September 3, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

      • Re: Comments

        Right – I think that distinction brings us closer together. Romney Republicans (Country Club) are a little bit different of a bunch. They are more like a middle ground between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. They will talk up and down about traditional values – although at some level I think the more blue collar evangelicals have suspicions of this group due to class lines.

        In my mind, when I’m saying fiscal conservatives, I’m thinking CNBC’s Larry Kudlow – who would never, no what other motivations, support welfare government. Social conservatives, I’m thinking Huckabee or Dobson or any other figure like that.

        So, I guess all this boils down to is how you cut up the Republican Coalition. Looking at it through your view, with the target on Country Club Republicans of the type I think you mean, I do see your point.

        Comment by sleepyreaderz — September 4, 2008 @ 4:17 am

      • Re: Comments

        The Country Club Republicans are what the party is really all about. That’s Ronald Regan for you. Other groups are bought and sold – even the evangelicals are bought and sold – but the CCr’s are always at the heart of the party. Neoconservativevs came in with Bush and will be scorned later, Evangelicals were scorned with McCain.

        Bush was in some ways an evangelical, some ways not – I’ve heard many times that his wife is pro-choice, after all. Did Bush end abortion? No. Did he even want to? He appointed conservative judges but ultimately I don’t think it was his core issue. If it was his core issue he woudln’t have backed off social conservatism when it became politically difficult. His core issue, above all things, was tax cuts. Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts. It was the first thing he did and the thing he fought the hardest to defend.

        Comment by ononehand — September 4, 2008 @ 5:11 am

    • Re: Comments

      Plus there are people like my parents. My mom was 17 when I was born, and both her and my step-dad are extremely conservative. They are always very sympathetic to teen pregnancy issues for obvious reasons.

      Not all conservatives suck that much, nor do they have a monopoly on hypocrisy.

      Comment by bradfordneal — September 2, 2008 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

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