TBT: Federalism Denied

It’s a late #TBT post today, faithful TPP readers, as the school year is gearing up and constraints on my time increase.  Better late than never, yes?

This week’s throwback post discusses the Seventeenth Amendment, which ended the election of US Senators via their respective State legislatures, and instead moved that choice directly to the people of the several States.

One of the Progressive Era Amendments—which gave us such chestnuts as the graduated income tax (Sixteenth Amendment), Prohibition (Eighteenth Amendment), and women’s suffrage (Nineteenth Amendment)—the Seventeenth Amendment was part of a broad cultural and political shift toward, paradoxically, greater choice and enfranchisement for the electorate on the one hand, and greater government control and oversight on the other.

Americans were optimistic in the power of the government at all levels—and, increasingly, at the federal level—to solve problems like poverty and privation, naively believing that, in a democracy, the people would make wise decisions about selecting its technocratic, managerial elite.

Not surprisingly, the managerial elites gained enormous power, and the people got the shaft.

This essay explores the consequences of the direct election of US Senators, as well as why State legislatures came to support the idea.  On the one hand, States lost their representation in Congress—the Senate was designed to represent State-level interests nationally—but State legislatures were also relieved of responsibility for what was becoming an onerous duty, susceptible to corruption, or even carelessness.

Here is “Federalism Denied”:

In last Wednesday’s post, “Politics, Locally-Sourced,” I urged readers to become more interested in and educated about their local and state governments.  A keystone of modern conservative political philosophy (and of the classical liberalism of the Framers) is decentralization, the idea that power should be spread broadly, both in terms of population and geography.  Due to the massive power the federal government accrued during and after the Second World War, decentralists also argue that power should devolve from the federal government back to the States.  The federal government, of course, plays an important role in maintaining the national defense, conducting foreign affairs, and regulating interstate commerce, among a number of other constitutionally delineated areas, but a great deal of power is reserved for the States in the X Amendment.

The X Amendment reads thus:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Clearly, then, where the Constitution is silent, the States are reserved broad powers.  They cannot become dictatorial–their constitutions must not conflict with the national supremacy of the US Constitution–but they can have broad latitude in determining statewide regulations, taxes, and the like.

In theory, at least, this federalist structure is how our nation is supposed to operate, and it manages to do so, despite significant hobbling from the federal government.  Congress has forced upon the States a number of unfunded federal mandates.  Essentially, a large portion of State budgets are consumed with fulfilling orders from Washington, D.C., without any form of assistance.  Additionally, States are often coerced into adopting certain policies or passing certain laws, lest the federal government withdraw their funding (this tactic was used to increase the drinking age from 18 to 21–not necessarily a bad thing, but the means matter almost as much as the ends; such coercion circumvents the proper amendment process).

What brought about this change, and how can we reverse it?  How can we restore the proper balance between the States and the federal government?

There are no easy answers here, and the centralization of power in the federal government occurred for a complicated host of reasons:  the acceptance of a desperate people of a greater role for the government in the economy during the Great Depression; the (temporary) success of a massively planned economy during the Second World War; the massive expansion of the welfare state during the Great Society; the (necessary) fight at the national level to protect the civil rights of black Americans; and more.

However, I would argue that a major source of this problem was the passage of the XVII Amendment.

The XVII Amendment replaced the old system of selecting senators with their direct election.  Prior to its passage, senators were selected by their state legislatures, which were themselves chosen in local elections.

There are a number of compelling arguments for why this amendment was adopted.  For one, many states had already moved to a de facto system of direct election, in which voters essentially “elected” their senator, and the state legislatures were duly pledged to vote in accord with the people’s choice.  Also, there were several scandals in which senate candidates merely bribed state legislators for their votes.  Finally, many state legislators found that voters cared more about who the legislators would elect to the Senate, not what they thought about state problems.

You can review these arguments in a (rather condescending) piece from Slate by David Schleicher entitled “States’ Wrongs.”


“[T]he States no longer have a constitutional role in the federal government.”

However, while there certainly appeared to be need for reform in senatorial elections, many of these problems still persist.  Voters are still overly-fixated on national politics, even more so than voters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  If anything, state elections are even more focused on national issues than they were before.  Special interest groups still manage to exert influence over the Senate, and can do so even more effectively by whipping up voters.

Most importantly, though, is that the States no longer have a constitutional role in the federal government.  The Senate used to serve as the representative of the States’ interests, while the House still operates as the representative of the people’s interests.  Now the people have direct influence over both branches of Congress, and an important, necessary brake on the fickle will of the majority is gone.

States’ rights has become an ugly phrase, associated as it is with slavery and segregation.  However, just because states’ rights has been invoked to defend the indefensible doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea.  The States function as an important bulwark against tyranny, and federalism affords many opportunities for policy innovation and experimentation–Louis Brandeis’s “laboratories of democracy.”  Also, the geographical, ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of the United States practically demands states’ rights, as different States have different needs, goals, and desires.

Repeal of the XVII Amendment is extremely difficult and unlikely:  people like to vote (actually, people like to know they can vote, even if they often choose not to do so).  But Congress, specifically the Senate, can do much to keep the further expansion of federal power in check.  Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska is spearheading this effort through his speeches, delivered from the Senate floor, about the proper role of the Senate and its obligation to be an august, contemplative chamber.

We, the people, can also take steps to become more involved in state politics.  Ultimately, the drive to restore federalism starts with us.

***

For more information about the XVII Amendment and different approaches to addressing it, here are some resources:

The Campaign to Restore Federalism (pro-repeal of the XVII Amendment):  http://www.restorefederalism.org/

“Repeal the 17th:  Problems to Address” by constitutional scholar Rob Natelson:  http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2013/08/26/repeal-the-17th-problems-to-address/

“Repeal the 17th Amendment?” by Gene Healy of the Cato Institute (great piece that is sympathetic to the idea, but recognizes the political problems involved):  http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/repeal-17th-amendment

“States’ Wrongs” (mentioned above) by David Schleicher of Slate (anti-repeal, with some interesting historical background and a lot of elitist sneering at movement conservatives):  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2014/02/conservatives_17th_amendment_repeal_effort_why_their_plan_will_backfire.html

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Dr. Bradley Campbell on Tucker

A very quick post today, as my time is somewhat limited:  a guy that I went to church with way back in the day, Dr. Bradley Campbell, was on Tucker Carlson’s show recently to talk about hate crime hoaxes in the wake of the Jussie Smollett incident.

Dr. Campbell is ten years older than me, so I didn’t know him as well as my older brother, who, like Campbell, is an academic.  Campbell is a sociologist, and works at California State University-Los Angeles.

You can watch Campbell’s appearance below (about halfway through the four-minute video):

He offers a solid, two-minute summary of his latest book, The Rise of Victimhood Culture:  Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, which is available on Amazon (and very affordable for an academic work).  Essentially, Campbell explains to Tucker Carlson why we’re seeing a rise in hate crime hoaxes.

Campbell has another book on Amazon, The Geometry of Genocide:  A Study in Pure Sociology, which sounds interesting based on the description.  An interesting quotation from the description:

Campbell considers genocide in relation to three features of social life: diversity, inequality, and intimacy. According to this theory, genocidal conflicts begin with changes in diversity and inequality, such as when two previously separated ethnic groups come into contact, or when a subordinate ethnic group attempts to rise in status.

It sounds like a more scholarly, nuanced version of the Internet formulation “Diversity + Proximity = War.”

Regardless, kudos to Campbell.  It’s good to see someone from back home comport himself well on national television.  Tucker didn’t rip into him about anything, which is always a good sign.  Congratulations, Brad!

The Desperate Search for Meaning

Despite this post’s lofty title, the focus is somewhat narrow.  Many Christians and other people of faith believe there is an innate desire in all humans to believe in something higher than themselves—God.  I’ve heard this desire inelegantly (but accurately) described as a “God-hole,” a hole that cannot be filled with anything other than the Divine.

The West today is awash in cynicism and nihilism, and an aggressive form of anti-religious sentiment.  Just witness the amusing, angry lengths to which strident Internet atheists will go to denounce religious (almost always specifically Christian) beliefs.  It’s pedantic to write, but it bears repeating:  atheists ironically fill their “God-hole” with the religion of hating and/or denying God’s Existence.

The net effect of this existential nihilism is manifest in abundant ways:  high suicide rates, debased morality and behavior, the destruction of the family, and spiritual emptiness and confusion.  We overthrew God—or at least, we tried to remove Him from our lives—but the void, the “God-hole,” within us remains.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so something is going to fill that hole.  It was with interest, then I read this piece from The Daily Dot that I stumbled upon while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day.  The piece is about a “healer” and lifestyle blogger named Audrey Kitching, who by all accounts is a duplicitous fraud:  she resells cheap Chinese jewelry at a huge markup, billing them as “energy crystals” and the like, and her gullible followers/victims eagerly lap it up.

What caught my attention, though, was not that a woman was trading on her looks and Instagram filters to build an online business, but rather the women who sacrificed their lives and good sense to someone who is, essentially, a bubblegum-haired freak with a penchant for codependent, psychologically abusive relationships.  Kitching convinced one of her employees to sever all ties with her family for a full year, and essentially used the poor, misguided woman as slave labor.

Men seem to succumb to the supposed “logic” of atheism, priding themselves on their assumed intellectual superiority for refusing to believe in anything beyond themselves.  Women, on the other hand, love quasi-spiritual garbage like Kitching’s baubles (it’s humorous reading how allegedly “legitimate” healers are opposed to Kitching for diminishing their corner on the medium/spiritualist market—I guess she’s not in their Scammers Guild).

Kitchings and her ilk—palm readers, dime-store oracles, astrologers, “good witches,” etc.—offer spirituality on the cheap:  all the “feel-good” stuff about loving other people and being part of the Universe, without any of the obligations—forming a family, living chastely and soberly, etc.  In the absence of strong men and strong institutions—namely the Church—and in an age of #MeToo feminism and “you go grrrrrl”-ism, women are easy prey for bubbly charlatans (if you’ve followed Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology, the fourth installment, “New Year, New You,” beautifully satirizes this kind of Instagram-friendly quasi-spirituality—and its horrifying consequences).

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t discount this stuff out of hand.  Indeed, I believe we’re always struggling against principalities and demonic forces, which is precisely why we should take this seriously.  Witchcraft and its associated branches is a real spiritual threat, and we’re losing a generation of women (and soy-boyish men) to a new wave of New Age spirituality and feel-good bullcrap.  It’s most insidious in the Church (by which I mean broadly all of Christianity, although I think High Protestant churches are particularly susceptible to this kind of infiltration), where its pernicious influence is far more subtle.

But the rise of witchcraft and other forms of knock-off spiritualism represent physical and metaphysical dangers.  Metaphysically, we shouldn’t be messing around with the spiritual world outside of our relationship with Christ.  Just look at what happened to King Saul when he consulted with the witch at Endor.

Physically, men and women are debasing themselves in the name of a “if it feels good, do it” mentality in a desperate attempt to fill their empty “God-holes.”  Women are literally prostituting themselves via Instagram—a terrifying intersection of online media attention-whoring and real-life whoring.  That kind of cheapness only comes in a culture that discourages traditional values and encourages riotousness and spiritual rebellion.

I always warn my students—I’m sure they occasionally roll their eyes—not to mess around with the spiritual world.  Angels are real—but so are demons.  And Satan always comes clothed in light—and shiny Snapchat filters.

Lincoln’s Favorability

One of Scott Rasmussen’s recent Number of the Day entries for Ballotpedia deals with the Abraham Lincoln’s current high favorability ratings:  90% of Americans have a favorable view of the Great Emancipator.  88% have a favorable view of our first president, George Washington.

That was certainly not the case when Lincoln was president.  He was an unlikely figure when he first took office, and many in his own party—the young Republican Party—doubted his ability to see the United States through the American Civil War.

It’s easy to forget—or even to imagine—that Lincoln believed he would not win re-election in 1864.  Thus, he picked Andrew Johnson, a pro-Union, pro-slavery Democrat from Tennessee, as his running mate.  (Of course, Lincoln never dreamed his symbolic gesture of political goodwill and unity would lead to an unqualified boor becoming president.)  Regardless, the fall of Atlanta and subsequent Union victories boosted Lincoln at the polls, securing his reelection (he was touched to find that soldiers overwhelming supported their Commander-in-Chief).

Blogger SheafferHistorianAZ at Practically Historical posted a piece recently entitled, “Finest Two Minutes,” about Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address.  That speech is, indeed, one of the most moving and powerful political speeches in the English language, and it’s less than 300 words.

What caught my eye was this quotation:

The Chicago Times recorded, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”

It’s instructive to remember that, while history views Lincoln fondly (SheafferHistorianAZ rates him as a “Great”-level president), he was not universally beloved at his time, and only won in 1860 because the race was split four ways:  there were two Democratic candidates (Northern and Southern), the Republican (Lincoln), and John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party.  Lincoln did not even appear on the ballot in many Southern States.  Lincoln had to earn his greatness, and much of it came with posterity.

Similarly, President Reagan was not universally beloved in his own party when he was elected in 1980.  The parallels to our current president, Donald Trump, and his own struggles with his adopted party are striking.

The lesson seems to be to aim for greatness, regardless of contemporary naysayers.  Few Americans remember George McClellan, but everyone remembers the Great Emancipator.

Lazy Sunday – APR Pieces

It’s been a busy weekend, so I’m very far behind on today’s post (about twelve hours late!).  That said, I’m worn out, so I’m phoning in this Sunday’s post.

I used to be associated with an online radio station, American Patriot Radio, in a mild way:  I would occasionally fill-in for the station’s most popular host, and I contributed some pieces for the site’s blog.

There’s no good way to navigate to these pieces on the site now, but they are, remarkably, still there.  I do not know the current status of the station, but while seeking out these pieces, I heard some streaming audio, so it may still be active, or it may be recycling old content.

Regardless, I thought it would be worthwhile to link to my writings there, as they reflect the heady days of early 2017, when the young Trump presidency seemed full of promise, and it looked as though populist uprisings would continue all over the globe.

Enjoy this grab-bag/impromptu archive of TPP submissions to APR.

8 May 2017 – “A Disheartening, but Expected, Defeat” (about the defeat of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen to France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/08/a-disheartening-but-expected-defeat/

8 May 2017 – “Pat Buchanan’s America” (about the impact of Pat Buchanan’s economic and foreign policy thought on the Trump ascendancy): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/08/pat-buchanans-america/

9 May 2017 – “A New Conservatism?” (a rumination on the future of conservatism, and the possibility of a new “fusionism” to include Trumpism): https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/09/a-new-conservatism/

10 May 2017 – “Comey-tose” (about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, as well as a brief discussion of my frustration with National Review‘s hand-wringing over decorum):  https://americanpatriotradio.com/2017/05/10/comey-tose/

Enjoy this self-indulgent blast from the recent past.

–TPP

Nehemiah Follow-Up

Yesterday, I posted about the Book of Nehemiah, and how the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem was a practical and symbolic form of national renewal and spiritual revival for the Israelites.  I drew the obvious comparison between Nehemiah’s effort, which his enemies scorned, mocked, and undermined, and that of President Trump’s to build a border wall and to enforce immigration laws.

A good friend and fellow blogger, with whom I share some Nehemiah-Trumpian parallels—for example, we’re both former secretaries for the Florence County GOP—Ms. Bette Cox, of the blog Esther’s Petition, e-mailed me the following comment.  It is reproduced here, in full, with her permission:

Good job with Nehemiah, Tyler. The most critical points, however, are found in 1:4 ff. The wall was, and is, not the most important thing in God’s eyes. Mourning. Grief. Repentance. Intercession. Far more important and essential, then and now. “Ask God what he wants prayed; pray that. Ask God what he wants to do; do that.”

Nehemiah 1:4 (KJV) reads as follows:  “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”

That’s a key point that I overlooked in my original post, and I wanted to write this brief follow-up to draw attention to this verse, and to thank Ms. Cox for highlighting it.  Indeed, verse 4 is the key to the entire Book of Nehemiah:  upon hearing the condition of his nation and his people, Nehemiah falls to his knees in tears, crying out to God for direction.

Another important detail:  Nehemiah asks, just two verses later, for forgiveness, not just for his people, but for himself.  He confesses his own sins to God, knowing that without full confession and repentance, he cannot follow God’s Will—indeed, he would be unable even to know what God’s Will is!

I don’t know the state of President Trump’s spiritual life, but I do believe he wants what is best for his nation.  Just as Nehemiah wept upon hearing the reduced condition of his people and their holy city, so did candidate Trump mourn (metaphorically) the degraded state of America.

For Christians, we should pray ceaselessly for God to spare the United States and to bring about national, spiritual revival and renewal.  I believe He granted us a reprieve with the unlikely election of Donald Trump, a man that, in his personal life, does not fit the mold of the “ideal” Christian.  What comes next is unclear, but we have to walk in faith, and trust in God—especially in the face of progressive lunacy and violence.

Nehemiah and National Renewal

This past Wednesday, I was asked to fill in for the pastor at the small church I attend.  Being such a small church—our average Sunday morning attendance is about forty—the pastor works another job, and he had a rare business trip.  I suppose he figured he could do worse than asking a high school history teacher to fill in for him.

Fortunately, the lesson was fairly straightforward:  he sent me a handout on Nehemiah 1:1-11, and the focus of the lesson was on the idea of spiritual renewal.

For the biblically illiterate—a shocking number of Americans today, I’m finding (I once had a class full of philosophy students who had never heard the story of the Tower of Babel, which is pretty much Sunday School 101)—the story of Nehemiah is simple:  after an extended period of exile in Babylon, the Israelites were sent back, under the auspices of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, to Jerusalem.  Cyrus sponsored the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, but the city itself, as well as its walls, remained in a state of disrepair.

There were two waves of Israelite resettlement over the span of a century, but many Israelites remained in Babylon or other parts of the Persian Empire, such as the imperial capital.  Nehemiah was one of those, and would be part of a third wave of resettlement.  He served as cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, the Persian emperor at the time.  The position of cup-bearer was an important and trusted one:  he handled the emperor’s food and drink, ensuring it was not poisoned.

Beyond serving as the royal taste tester, the office carried with it important administrative duties, and gave incredible access to the emperor.  In short, it was a position of great influence, power, and prestige, which positioned Nehemiah nicely for what was to come.

Nehemiah spoke to a fellow Israelite who was visiting the imperial capital, and was distraught to hear of the poor condition of the city and its walls.  He fell to his knees, weeping and crying out to the Lord.  Nehemiah 1 details his prayer to God, calling out in adoration; confessing his and his people’s sins; thanking God for His mercy and gifts; and supplicating God for His Will to be accomplished through Nehemiah.

Specifically, Nehemiah asked God to be used to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  As cup-bearer, Nehemiah was able to present his petition to the emperor, who agreed to send Nehemiah to oversee the construction project.  In addition, Artaxerxes provided lumber from the royal forest, as well as funds to bankroll the endeavor.  He also sent letters with Nehemiah detailing his endorsement of the project.

Nehemiah’s work was not finished there, and it was anything but easy.  Initially, surrounding tribes criticized and mocked Nehemiah, questioning his loyalty to Artaxerxes, and saying that rebuilding the walls was a silly waste of time and effort.

However, once the wall reached half its height, his critics began plotting violence.  The plot to attack the workers reached Nehemiah, so he divided the work crews into those building the wall, and those defending their fellow workers from attack.

Having failed to stage an attack on the workers, Nehemiah’s enemies realized that the man himself was the target—cut off the head, kill the snake.  Again, God revealed this plot against Nehemiah, and he was able to avoid assassination.

Finally, the wall was rebuilt in an astonishing fifty-two days, an incredible feat of organization, ingenuity, and faithfulness.  The naysayers were humiliated, and Nehemiah instituted a period of national and spiritual renewal among the Israelites.  His reforms purified the nation spiritually and even ethnically, as old debts were forgiven and marriages to pagan women were dissolved.

It’s a powerful story—indeed, a powerful bit of history—about trusting in God in the face of extremely difficult odds.  But Nehemiah is also a story about national renewal, and the spiritual revival that came with it.

The wall around Jerusalem served a practical purpose—defending the city and its inhabitants from attack (even though the city was under the protection of the Persian Empire, the ancient Near East was, then as now, notoriously tribal, and the collapse of an empire would lead to dozens of ethnic conflicts)—but it was also a symbol of the Israelite nation.

Indeed, the author of the handout I used Wednesday evening writes that the “enemies of Israel could say, ‘What kind of God do you serve?  Look at the mess of your Holy City?’ It was a terrible witness and was cause for reproach from non-believers.”  The poor condition of the Jerusalem and its fortifications reflected the spiritual decay and corruption of the Israelites—they had intermarried with pagan women, adopting their false gods; they were living in rubble; and their reduced condition suggested that their God—the One True God—was not Who He made Himself out to Be.

It’s a bit on the nose, but I can’t help but recognize the parallels between the United States today and Jerusalem then—and between President Trump and Nehemiah (although I think Trump is closer to Cyrus the Great in terms of his spirituality and outlook).

I’m not suggesting Nehemiah was clubbing with Eastern European supermodels.  But like Trump, he faced overwhelming resistance from other nations to his wall project.  The rest of the ancient Near East feared a strong, renewed Israel.  Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem, and the reconstruction of the wall, led to a period of national revival, as the people regained their identity, expelled the corrosive foreign influence in their midst, and renewed their commitment to God.

America is, spiritually and culturally, in similarly dire straits today.  President Trump has presented himself as a modern-day Nehemiah, come to control our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and restore America’s greatness on the world stage.  While he has made great strides in these areas, he meets resistance, duplicity, and mockery at every turn.

The story of Nehemiah tells us, however, that the struggle is worth the slings and arrows our enemies, both foreign and domestic, will lob at us.  To President Trump, I would urge the following:  stay the course, ignore the haters, take it to God, and BUILD THE WALL!

TBT: Family Matters Follow-Up Part II: The Welfare State and the Crisis of the Family

TBT for this week: https://theportlypolitico.blogspot.com/2016/08/family-matters-follow-up-part-ii.html

Last week’s #TBT featured a follow-up to one of the most read pieces on my old site, “Family Matters.”  That piece generated so many questions and comments on Facebook back in 2016 that I wrote two lengthy follow-up posts.  This post deals with the deleterious impact of the welfare state upon the family, looking first at the effect of the Great Society on the black family.  It then examines how those negative consequences spread beyond racial barriers to destroy traditional and nuclear family formation across races.

Now, over half of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock, regardless of race.  Economics doesn’t explain that story entirely, but misguided government policy, which placed perverse incentives on single motherhood, have driven what is ultimately a cultural and spiritual decline.

The details are in the post below, so without further ado, here is 10 August 2016’s “Family Matters Follow-Up Part II: The Welfare State and the Crisis of the Family“:

My series of posts on the decline of the traditional family unit in the United States and the West has generated a great deal of discussion (and, occasionally, some bitter recriminations).  Thus, after the overwhelming feedback and requests for clarification I received to “Family Matters,” I decided to expand upon some portions of that piece (click here to read “Follow-Up Part I” about divorce and sex education).

One of the claims of “Family Matters” concerned the “havoc” President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society/War on Poverty wreaked on the black American families.  In the original post, I failed to link to any data or articles to substantiate this claim, but I’ve since updated the post with links to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous “Moynihan Report” (actual title:  The Negro Family:  The Case for National Action) and a piece from 2015 that summarizes some of the main points of the report.

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan–who would go on to serve as US Ambassador to India and the United Nations, then as a Democratic Senator for New York–enjoys a rare respect as a liberal among conservatives.  Though he was a leftist on many issues, he was first and foremost a scholar with a commitment to following the data wherever it took him.

The so-called “Moynihan Report”–which he wrote while working as a bureaucrat in the Department of Labor in 1965–demonstrated that many of the problems of the black community were caused only in part by discrimination, but much more so by a decline in marriage and stable family formation.  While racial discrimination was (and–I would like to think to a lesser extent–still is) a major problem in the 1960s, it alone could not explain adequately the plight of many black Americans.

Instead, what Moynihan discovered was that well-intentioned government programs inadvertently subsidized single motherhood, and were destroying the black family.  Indeed, the “national action” for which Moynihan called was that which would reinforce “the establishment of a stable Negro family structure.”  This national goal would be “difficult,” but “it almost certainly offers the only possibility of resolving in our time what is, after all, the nation’s oldest, and most instransigent, and now its most dangerous social problem.”  (Moynihan, The Negro Family)

I once heard a conservative black gentleman from Darlington, South Carolina, summarize Moynihan’s argument thus:  at a time when black men faced legitimate discrimination in the workforce, and could lose their jobs on the flimsiest of pretexts, the federal government came along offering generous support to single mothers.  By 1975–ten years after Moynihan’s prophetic report–a head of household would have to earn $88,000 (in 2015 dollars; about $22,000 in 1975) to out-earn the benefit from the federal government.  (Jack Coleman, “Juan Williams:  Daniel Patrick Moynihan ‘Had it Right’ About Breakdown of the Black Family”)  As Jason Riley, author of Please Stop Helping Us:  How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed wrote in a 2015 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, “In effect, the government paid mothers to keep fathers out of the home–and paid them well.”

Not surprisingly, many women took note of this benefit.  Some of them–and, yes, I know what you’re about to read will be hard to believe, but it actually happened–calculated that they were better off divorcing their husbands or having a child out of wedlock, especially given the real, costly discrimination their husbands faced.  Government do-gooding, coupled with a legacy of racial discrimination, caused many young black children to grow up without fathers.

Initially, that might not have been a huge problem… but it metastasized.  Young boys grew up without father figures to shape them, and came to expect that leaving a woman, or having children with multiple women, was natural.  Young girls grew up thinking they had no reasonable expectation of their man sticking around.  With each generation, the problem grew worse and worse, until now roughly 72-73% of black children born in America are born to a single parent.

“[S]imply replacing one parent with a paycheck does not fulfill a child’s many needs.”

Single parenthood is sometimes the only option, but it’s a tough row to hoe.  Not only does it place financial burdens on the parent; it also removes from her or him the ability to parent a child adequately.  To quote economist Walter Williams at length:

“Whether a student is black, white, orange or polka-dot and whether he’s poor or rich, there are some minimum requirements that must be met in order for him to do well in school. Someone must make the student do his homework. Someone must see to it that he gets eight to nine hours of sleep. Someone has to fix him a wholesome breakfast and ensure that he gets to school on time and respects and obeys teachers.

“Here’s my question: Which one of those basic requirements can be accomplished through a presidential executive order, a congressional mandate or the edict of a mayor, a superintendent of schools or a teacher? If those basic requirements aren’t met, whatever else that is done in the name of education is for naught.” (emphasis added; Walter Williams, “Can Racial Discrimination Explain Much?”)

In other words, simply replacing one parent with a paycheck does not fulfill a child’s many needs.  Children born out-of-wedlock and raised by a single parent are more likely “to experience a variety of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems,” according to Dr. Paul Amato in “The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Well-Being of the Next Generation.”   That creates ripple effects for generations to come, and the cycle is difficult to break.

***

The problem was prevalent even before Moynihan wrote his report (which, not surprisingly, caused many of his fellow-liberals to accuse him of “racism” and bigotry–common tactics when faced with an unpleasant truth).  Ronald Reagan, while campaigning for Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, told the story in his magisterial “A Time for Choosing” speech of a mother who divorced her husband to get a check from the government, and how she learned to do it after talking to two other women who’d also gamed the system.

We’ve now had fifty-one years of the Great Society, and while some of its programs helped alleviate malnutrition and other problems that are, thankfully, dwindling issues, its good intentions created a host of other problems.  In 1965, one could still plausibly claim that government do-gooders merely didn’t know any better.  Now, the argument seems to be, “Well, we’re trying to do the right thing, so that’s all that should matter.”  That’s prime paving stone for the road to hell.

“The decline of the family is a problem all Americans will have to address.”

Moynihan argued that black Americans in particular were experiencing the decline of family formation most heavily because of the “tangle of pathologies” stemming from centuries of slavery and a century of legal, social, and economic segregation, and that this legacy dovetailed disastrously with the perverse incentive toward divorce and single motherhood.  As he predicted, this tangle morphed into a multi-generational cycle that has ground many black Americans further into poverty.

In 2016, the negative consequences have not only magnified the problem among black Americans; it’s spread throughout American society.  There’s been a crisis among black families for fifty years; we ignored it at our peril.

The experience of black American families since the 1960s is a sad story, though there are many brave black mothers and fathers who raise their children with love and support.  They are struggling to break a dangerous cycle, one that swirls in a murky stew of cultural, social, and economic pressures against the two-parent family and traditional marriage.

Racism appears to have enhanced the deleterious effects of the welfare state in the case of black families, but now those negative consequences are increasingly color-blind.  The decline of the family is a problem all Americans will have to address.

(For additional reading, check out the works of Walter Williams, a brilliant economist and political conservative who, as it happens, is black.  Start here for an appetizer:  http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/can-racial-discrimination-explain-much/article/2556814; after that, get Race and Economics:  How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?)

The Deep State is Real – Silent Coup Attempt and Andrew McCabe

One reason I’m not overly concerned about President Trump’s national emergency is because the normal constitutional order has not operated effectively or as designed for a very long time.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect the Constitution and the process, but there are so many extra-constitutional shenanigans going on already, it seems we’re missing the forest for the trees when we fixate on the president’s completely statutory, legal national emergency declaration.

Remember, Congress delegated the national emergency power to the executive branch in the National Emergency Act of 1976.  Whether they should have done so—or been allowed to do so—is a matter of debate, but they did, and it empowered President Trump to fulfill his Article II obligation to defend our national sovereignty.

Regardless, the media and Never Trumpers’ fixation on the national emergency distracts from the real threat to our constitutional republic:  the active attempt by the Deep State to stage a silent coup of the President.

Democrats and Deep Staters have made it clear they want to remove President Trump from office, not for any actual “high crime or misdemeanor,” but simply because they can if they either a.) get enough votes in the House and Senate or b.) stage a 25th Amendment, Cabinet-level coup.  Both of those are extremely unlikely, but they would set a dangerous precedent:  whenever there’s a president one side doesn’t like, that side can attempt to remove him from office for the flimsiest of reasons.  The breakdown of our constitutional norms would only accelerate.

Andrew McCabe’s current media tour is premised on his ostentatiously prideful boasting that he encouraged a 25th Amendment removal of President Trump, or at least wanted to explore the option.  Keep in mind, McCabe was considering this option even before President Trump had a chance to do anything that might be considered a “high crime.”

The accusations of “Russian collusion,” and the subsequent Mueller witch hunt, still have not yielded any actual evidence against Trump, and has only succeeded in rounding up some fringe characters on tedious process violations—they made mistakes in testimony as part of an investigation that itself is out-of-control and useless.

That a large portion of the federal bureaucracy and the intelligence community want to overthrow President Trump is not a sign of their desire to maintain a healthy republic, but is rather symptomatic of their disdain for the Electoral College and the American people—indeed, of the entire electoral process.

Put simply, their candidate lost, and they don’t want President Trump bringing their heinous misdeeds and conspiracies against the public to light.

Drain the Swamp!  The sooner the better.  And put McCabe behind bars for seditious activity.