With several state primary elections over and the field of Republican Party, presidential hopefuls narrowed down, I thought this a good time to highlight where the candidates stand on a few issues that impact families. As I mention last week in The History of Fatherhood in the United States, the family became a fully politicized issue by the 1970′s and nothing has changed since. In this current election this holds true, more so than ever.
In this post, I spotlight former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Ironically, when it comes to family, the majority of the attention Mr. Gingrich has received is focused more on his marital debacles than his political ideology on the topic. And his ideology isn’t without controversy either if you recall his remarks on poor children and their work ethic.
Before moving on, it’s worth reviewing Mr. Gingrich’s childhood and background. Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Mr. Gingrich was adopted as an infant by his stepfather who was a career infantry soldier. This regimented, conservative upbringing no doubt had an impact on his views of the family. Later he went on to earn a Ph.D and then taught history at West Georgia College. In 1979 he was elected to Congress and retired in 1999, earning a reputation for being controversial. Since then, Mr. Gingrich has acted as a political consultant, while also authoring 27 books.
Note: In gathering the following material, I attempted to use objective information based on voting record, quotes, and non-partisan sources. At the moment, I fall in the category of “undecided” with respect to both the candidates and the parties they represent. Therefore, the views expressed here are not necessarily my own.
Gingrich on Poverty 1 of 8Gingrich believes education is the key to ending poverty, not welfare. Orphanages like Boys Town and group homes for unwed mothers would, in fact, be better options than such government programs. He wants welfare to be limited to 2 years and would deny additional funding support for children born while the mother is still covered by welfare. Outreach to the poor should be handled at the state and local levels where volunteer groups can be more effective in his opinion. Gingrich has voiced his stance that poor children need to learn the importance of hard work.
Notable Quote: Give Poor Kids A Job 2 of 8"… kids ought to be allowed to work part-time in school, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, both because they could use the money. If you take 1/2 of the New York janitors who are unionized and paid more than the teachers, an entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half of those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria and the school library and front office. I'll stand by the idea, young people ought to learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely. We should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness." (Source: Yahoo's "Your Voice Your Vote" debate in Iowa , Dec 10, 2011)
Gingrich on Abortion 3 of 8Mr. Gingrich is a strong Pro-Life proponent, pledging to appoint only anti-abortion officials, and he favors ending financing for Planned Parenthood. He further believes that parents should be notified prior to performing abortions on minors. Gingrich's answer to this is adoption. He has been criticized for saying that he would support colleagues who voted against banning late-pregnancy abortions.
Notable Quote: Reward high-school girls who graduate as virgins 4 of 8As part of his conservative stance, Newt Gingrich aims to impose order with a vision like a surreal projection of his own past; a family structure as strict as [his father] Bob Gingrich's military hierarchy and an educational system that, as he outlines for me, rewards high-school girls who graduate as virgins. In his book To Renew America, he suggests that one could communicate values to children by simply getting out "the Boy Scout or Girl Scout handbook, or go look at Reader's Digest and The Saturday Evening Post from around 1955." In his dream of perfection, as marketable and soothing as Father of the Bride, there are none of the ordinary dramas of family life. (Source: PBS Frontline: "The Inner Quest of Newt Gingrich" , Nov 11, 2011)
Gingrich on Education 5 of 8Mr. Gingrich sees education as the most important factor in our future prosperity and national security. However, he plans to "dramatically shrink" the Department of Education, and supports parents of elementary children picking any school they wanted them to attend. Furthermore, he sees high schools as obsolete and would make schools compete against each other as a means to improve results. Gingrich also thinks that we should focus on patriotic education instead of multiculturalism, and that school prayer should be allowed. For college students, he thinks they should be free of student loan debt upon graduation or at the least, interest should not be charged to those students majoring in math and science. He would bring back school prayer with a Constitutional amendment and thinks that federal aid should go only to schools that allow voluntary.
Notable Quote: Education Rests on Parents 6 of 8Our public school system is increasingly geared toward serving the needs of government employee unions and other special interest groups instead of the educational, moral, and emotional needs of our children. With public schools becoming increasingly bureaucratic, hostile to religious expression, and unresponsive to parental input, American families are increasingly choosing alternative education methods for their children such as private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling. Such options allow parents to customize their child's curriculum and learning environment, provide a safe environment free of drugs and violence, and impart strong religious values. (Source: A Nation Like No Other, by Newt Gingrich, p. 95 , Jun 13, 2011)
Gingrich on Taxes 7 of 8Mr. Gingrich is staunchly opposed to higher taxes as per his party's cornerstone platform. He does, however, realize that taxes are necessary, but also supports getting rid of the marriage tax and cutting middle class taxes. Mr. Gingrich feels that the tax code should be geared towards reinforcing families through such items as a tax incentives for adoption, and an elderly dependent tax credit. Gingrich has also stated that he would like the public to weigh in on major tax reform.
Notable Quote: Marriage penalty hurts low-income couples 8 of 8"And then you have politicians," Gingrich says, "who say, 'Gee, we have too many births out of wedlock.' And your government wants to encourage you to get married by taking from you 25% of your income?" Gingrich doesn't blame individuals for socially damaging behavior. His target is the system that fosters it. He wants instead a system that guides citizens to the proper choices. (Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 43 , Jun 1, 1995)
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Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons (Top: Wiki Commons, Gage Skidmore)