Virtually every Trump voter, reluctant Trump voter or defender of any policy or appointment of Trump, is being hit with one or more of the following personal accusations: racist, misogynist, bigot, homophobe.
Or maybe you exist as the trifecta. In many people’s minds, the three-part combo of white and male and Christian has become the bane of all that is wrong with society — the real cause of the nation’s problems.
Like most things we tackle at The Revolutionary Act, this is not just wrong thinking. It is irrational, emotion-based and anecdote-reliant, driven by a cultural misinformation machine and ultimately dangerous to the people they claim to want to be helping.
For instance, a recent Facebook debate on poverty focused almost exclusively on racism in the United States. We interjected data definitively showing that the strongest links to poverty are single moms, not graduating from high school and not taking a job, according to the moderate Brookings Institute.
These factors apply to whites, blacks, Hispanics and surely all of the rest of humanity. So the solution is not blaming entrenched institutional racism — which has now become a tiny rump of what it once was — but to tackle the ultimate causes. The solution is connecting personal choices to outcomes.
Now, try posting that on Facebook. The responses are irrational, emotion-based and anecdote-reliant. A recent fad is to be labeled a “scold.” Anything except the actual merits of the point.
Irrational: “What about the men who get these single moms pregnant!?!?! This hatred of women is why Hill lost.”
Emotional: “I’m a single mom and the proud daughter of a single mom! Quit telling me I’m the problem!!!”
Anecdote-reliant: “Plenty of kids succeed coming from single-parent households. Look at Ben Carson.”
There you have it. Toss out the scientific data — actual facts — and fall back on irrational charges, emotional defenses and Ben Carson.
This is why we cannot make any headway against poverty despite our enormous wealth and mind-boggling wealth transfers.
The welfare failure
We’ve transferred $22 trillion to poorer Americans since launching the war on poverty in 1964, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. And yet official poverty numbers have hardly budged at all.
Robert Rector, one of the authors of the NCPA study, wrote: “If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.” Got that? We could write a check to each poor person annually to get them out of poverty — five times over.
OK, so this just must to be excruciatingly clear: the 80 government welfare programs (which does not include Social Security and Medicare) are definitive failures in doing anything to affect poverty. There can be no argument about that. Doing more of what has failed for 50 years is doomed to further failure.
So why do we keep doing it?
The problem of marriage morals
Because to actually fix the problem we would have to declare certain things as true and proclaim the necessary ownership of personal choices.
First, out-of-wedlock births are first-line causes of poverty (as is divorce — and that is stepping on a lot of toes) and that leads to pre-marital sex being at the very least a risky step toward poverty. As that is often conducted unprotected and in the heat of passion, particularly with young people, it is better to not have sex outside of marriage.
Well that’s starting to sound an awful lot like some puritanical Bible-thumping — and the culture drivers in our country simply cannot abide by such a thing. In fact work and personal responsibility also have a bit of a biblical ring to them.
After spending much of the 20th century trying to break down Judeo-Christian moral sexual norms — and we are now all the way up to gay marriage and transvestite men using the women’s room — no one is willing to talk about the need for sexual self-control and fidelity. And certainly no one wants to talk about sex outside marriage being wrong. Watch any TV show or movie. The opposite is glorified, and the image painted is that everyone does it.
But if we did talk about sex only in marriage, and promoted it like we promote the ongoing sexual “revolution,” we would take a huge step toward defeating a lot of poverty. At least, that’s what the actual facts suggest.
But we won’t. Because we don’t want to. So we blame racism because it is cheap, easy and available and makes many feel morally superior.
And poverty remains as it has ever been. Transferring $22 trillion changed nothing. And another $22 trillion won’t, either.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.