Mike Huckabee: Wrong on Single Moms (and most everything else…)
Melissa Harris-Perry is dead right. It’s this type of context and clarity to issues that is needed more in the media and it’s time we hold our politicians accountable.
After his un-presidential and inaccurate portrayal of President Obama being raised in Kenya and having anti-colonial views of the British based on a fictitious report of the President siding with the Mau Mau’s during the revolution Kenya last week (The President was never in Kenya during his childhood and had very little interaction with his father at all), the “Huckster” went after single moms as he tracks further and further and further to the Right as he positions himself to pander to those hard-right voters during his future presidential run. Upon closer review, his comments about the President and Natalie Portman reveal his true perspective; one of a white supremist and a paternalist. Even though the President was not there and has not commented on the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya, had he been there (or you) and his country was being colonized by foreigners for financial gain, who would blame him for fighting against this sort of imperialism? The idea that you would smacks of racism and white supremacy. And while ignoring Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol out of wedlock pregnancy, the “Huckster” turns his claws on a economically stable, soon to be married, middle-aged, liberal woman. As if he knows what is best for her…
Mike Hukabee is no more presidential and has no more credibility on this issue than anyone that buys into white supremacy or paternalism. But too often that perspective gets all the media play.
My mom’s experiences were tough enough to convince me that I never wanted to be a single parent. So I followed all the rules: I dated a man for five years, got a PhD, then got married, then bought a house, then had a baby. I assumed all my “good choices” had protected me from the fate of single parenting. But my first husband left me before our daughter was two and I suddenly found myself shouldering all the financial and personal burdens of parenting. Although my education and income meant I never descended into poverty, the costs of single parenting were real. Despite our tough experiences I know that both my mother and I are good, loving parents and that neither of us, nor most other unmarried mothers, deserve to be scapegoats for social or fiscal problems facing America.
In fact, my lived experiences of single parenting are more representative of the unmarried mom experience than Huckabee’s fantasy of starving children fed by the state. Data from a 2009 report on unmarried parents show that 80% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed and fewer than 10% are recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). Poverty rates are certainly much higher among single parents. Nearly 27% live below the poverty line. But this number does not approach the “most” which Huckabee claims. These data show that although they are more often poor, most single mothers work despite the obvious difficulties of working while raising children without a spouse. They further show that our government actually does very little to support these women. These moms are hardly cash-sucking drains on national or state economies. Many of these women and their children could use more support, not less.
Maybe what Huckabee meant to designate was not single mothers, but teen mothers. Teen mothers do face far more difficult economic circumstances than do unmarried mothers more generally. Only about 50% of teens who become pregnant before graduating will ever finish high school.The children of teens have poorer health outcomes, which can have real and lasting social costs. But if Huckabee is concerned with glamorizing teen pregnancy he need look no farther than his own political party. The GOP’s embrace of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy during the 2008 convention was a powerful endorsement by America’s “family values” Party for precisely the kind of pregnancy that often has the most difficult social outcomes for moms and kids: the pregnancy of an unmarried teen without a diploma. – Melissa Harris-Perry