On This Week with George Stephanopoulos former House Speaker Newt Gingrich smugly tried to bully former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, presumably about who was best suited to deal with income inequality America, Democrats or Republicans.
We know only too well and so sadly that conservatives are not coping well with Pope Francis and his strong statements about economic inequality in the world. Conservatives like to think they are Christian, after all, and the pope is, well, not just a Christian but also the leader of a very conservative branch of Christianity.
No worries if your a conservative, however, the Pope is just another bothersome expert — a man who has committed his life to the faith of Christianity — and we can’t be bothered with experts. See a pattern? (cf. Economics, environment, social welfare, education…and on and on.) Conservatives have no need for facts, experts, or even common sense, especially if it doesn’t square with ideology.
So now back to Gingrich, an expert at twisting opinion so it appears to square with fact and fit neatly into a tight little ideological box.
Gingrich seem to argue that Republicans, not Democrats, were better suited to deal with inequality and economic injustice because the proof exists in America’s cities. How? Well, Gingrich claims that “every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats.” One could ask what exactly he means by this…and one might quibble about where most poverty exists in the United States (e.g., rural red states), but who cares? We’re talking with a Republican so he certainly won’t.
I think there is a simpler and more elegant conclusion to draw from Mr. Gingrich’s convenient conclusion. Let’s presume he is correct. Perhaps we have a chicken-or-egg problem. Because it seems to make sense to me that a place which is a “center of poverty” would be led by Democrats. Who could imagine a the people living there voting for Republicans, politicians set on pushing them further away from opportunity and security?
It is important to note that cities — unlike the federal government or even states — have very little influence over the economy. Cities cannot survive without regional, national, and even global purpose. Certainly cities can and do plan for their economic futures, but when the economics that established and built a city change or disappear, the city will suffer. Much of the poverty in America’s cities today has more to do with the financial support they don’t get, the trade agreements that don’t balance with their losses, and the globalization of our economy. We can argue if this is bad or good, but arguing that city poverty is the fault of Democratic leadership stands on faulty premises. All Gingrich proved today is he spins a good story for those already eager to hear it.