US Sen. Rand Paul to visit Grand Rapids next week

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

No edge for Rand Paul among young Americans, poll finds.

During a radio interview yesterday, Senator Rand Paul weighed in on the ongoing unrest in Baltimore. “I came through the train on Baltimore last night,” the Kentucky Republican and 2016 presidential candidate told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.The need for a national conversation on race, policing and the crisis that exists in so many of our cities becomes greater with each event like the tragedy that is now gripping Baltimore. And try as he might, he can’t keep from having father problems. “There are so many things we can talk about,” Paul said, by way of trying to explain what had happened. “It’s something we talk about not in the immediate aftermath but over time: The breakdown of family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of sort of a moral code in our society.” He added: “This isn’t just a racial thing; it goes across racial boundaries.” The comment about “lack of fathers” was quickly picked up by liberal media outlets (in part thanks to the unhappy coincidence that Paul’s own son was recently busted for DUI in Kentucky). The survey, the latest in a twice-a-year project to gauge the views of the millennial generation, found no front-runner among the Republicans hoping to become the party’s nominee for president.

It’s often levied as a sort of broad-brush critique, along the lines of “why don’t they talk about black-on-black violence” (which we’ve addressed before). Reached by phone, a spokesperson for Amtrak, the owner of Baltimore’s rail transportation hub, confirmed that all Amtrak routes that travel through Baltimore make stops in Baltimore. “Amtrak continues to operate and make all scheduled stops at Baltimore Penn Station [and] the station remains open to ticketed passengers.” The implication in mentioning the absence of black fathers can be — but isn’t always — that there is a shortcoming in the black community that leads to bad behavior among young black people.

Paul has frequently suggested that his positions on issues, including support for changing the nation’s marijuana laws and skepticism about overseas commitments, would help him attract younger voters who have spurned the GOP in recent elections. Paul’s brief mention of it, however, likely isn’t meant to be a shorthand, but instead to be a placemark for the discussion that he himself says should result from the violence in Maryland. He called for “a commitment to the rule of law” and said there should be a quick investigation into Freddie Gray’s death “so that people know that the system works for them.” On the fringe of the campaign, Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon and supposed presidential aspirant who never has anything useful to say, said the problem in Baltimore was that parents don’t have enough control of their children.

Further complicating Paul’s path, younger Americans also appear to have grown somewhat more interventionist in their views of foreign affairs, the survey found. Hillary Clinton, at least, tried to address the real issues behind the eruptions of racial violence like we have seen in Baltimore, calling for an end to “the era of mass incarceration” during a speech at Columbia University today. Last week, the New York Times looked at America’s “missing black men” — the gap between the number of black women and black men that is often the result of incarceration.

A majority of respondents, 57%, said they would support sending U.S. ground troops to take part in a military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. The share who said the U.S. “should take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts” has risen to more than one-third, up from about one-quarter, where it stood during the last two years. Clinton said, “I do not know all the answers.” But she correctly identified this country’s racist incarceration policies as a wrong that must be righted, though sadly not the only one.

Whoever wins the GOP contest will have to contend with the fact that, overall, Republicans continue to lag well behind Democrats among those age 18 to 29. That 15-point gap is somewhat narrower than the 23-point margin by which President Obama won 18- to 29-year-olds in 2012, according to exit polls, but exceeds the 54%-45% edge that John Kerry had among young voters in the 2004 contest against President George W. It’s also worth noting that black fathers who didn’t live with their children were as engaged with their kids as were white and Hispanic fathers — and were more likely to talk with them multiple times a week or help them with their homework.

There are studies that correlate single-parent households to increased rates of incarceration, but the correlation overlaps with a number of other factors, including poverty. Paul’s too-quick comment missed the nuances of single-parent households that these statistics convey, and, in trying to point out that there are complex factors involved in what happened in Baltimore, oversimplifies the discussion by mentioning a controversial one without qualification.

In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem. In December, the president announced his plan to temporarily shield from deportation millions of people who came to the U.S. illegally, and several surveys have shown an increase in Latino support since then.

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