In response to a question about banning assault weapons, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shared this piece of information with the rest of the country during Tuesday night’s debate: “If there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically.” That may seem rather obvious, particularly if both parents are working. But Romney also offered this “secret”: “The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically.” This rings true because money too often buys better schools, better programs, and more opportunities.
But if a President Romney truly intends to improve the opportunities afforded to single-parent homes, he should revise his policies rather than answering questions about AK-47s with endorsements of two-parent, heteronormative homes. Also, it stands to reason that he would not have picked Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.
While Romney maintains he is not campaigning on Ryan’s budget, his V.P. choice indicates his approval of Ryan’s general budget proposals, which hit single parent homes hard, pulling the social safety net out from under them. Single-parent homes comprise nearly 30% of all households in the United States, and 35.3% of all those households live in poverty. Instead of telling those households to find a spouse, he should propose policies and/or programs that would support them. But as he has frequently reminded us, he is “not concerned about the very poor” because they are doing so well thanks to the safety net.
Implicit in Romney’s remarks on single-parent homes is that raising a child alone is always a choice–and a bad one. A parent leaving an abusive relationship damages the child; a parent not settling for a spouse damages the child; a parent working any number of jobs to provide for their family damages the child because they don’t have time to find someone to marry. But those kids with heterosexual parents, whether they’re abusive or not, whether they’re home or not, whether they care or not, are always better off.
What Romney did not say directly Tuesday night, but also implied, was this: “If marriage remains in ruins among African Americans, we risk that they become a permanent underclass. If other ethnic minorities follow the same downhill path, they could suffer the same tragic outcome.” That’s an excerpt from his 2010 book No Apology.
In this way of thinking, Romney forgets the suspects in two recent, highly publicized instances of gun violence: white supremacist Wade Michael Page, who killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, and Aurora, Colorado movie-theater shooter James Holmes, who killed 12 people. Feministing editor Chloe Angyal argued Thursday in the Sydney Morning Herald that the coded language Romney and Ryan have been using on the campaign trail translates to “black people are lazy and culturally inferior, and that’s why they commit gun crimes. America’s gun violence has nothing to do with lenient gun laws or drugs. It’s the stupid black people, stupid!”
At the end of the day, it’s just stupid to blame crime on one ethnicity, or on a type of household.