Newt Gingrich doesn't agree with this idea.
Every single time you think the Republicans can't get any worse, they do. It’s getting so bad now that the main problem facing progressive columnists these days is outrage fatigue.
We felt that way about the overtly political attempts to disenfranchise students, the elderly and minorities from voting. We felt that way about the attempts by conservative governors across the country to end collective bargaining, which wouldn’t do anything to create jobs but would increase corporate profits and defund progressive campaigns. We felt that way about the continuing attempts by corporate conservatives to defend Wall Street and defend tax cuts for millionaires. We felt that way about the frightening number of misogynist restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, culminating in the odious personhood amendment in Mississippi.
And yet even with all that, certain things seemed inviolate. Things like a respect for the opinion of mankind that children should be allowed to be children without being forced into hard labor to put food on their parents’ tables. But then, along came Gingrich.
Not very long ago in American politics, it would have been hard to imagine a scenario in which the frontrunner competing for the nomination of a major political party in America would be advocating for the repeal of child labor laws and suggesting that the children of poor families do the often-dangerous work of cleaning up after their wealthier classmates. But Newt isn’t the only one to do so. Paul LePage, the arch-conservative governor of Maine who was swept into power last cycle, made noise by advocating for the repeal of his state’s child-labor laws when he wasn’t too busy removing murals honoring the labor movement or trying to make it more difficult for residents to vote. Steve Benen's blog at Washington Monthly mentions other incidents of Republicans attempting to weaken child labor laws, including the opinion of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who believes that such laws are unconstitutional. Benen states his outrage thus:
Remember when there were accepted political norms that helped define the American mainstream? Basic policy tenets that both major parties accepted, largely without question?
I don’t know when or if those days are coming back.
Those days are not coming back any time soon. When Republicans won at the state and federal level in 2010 because of voters' dissatisfaction with the performance of the Democratic majority on jobs and the economy, they took it as validation of their entire economic agenda. Little did the voters know, however, that the actual Republican agenda consists repealing the entire twentieth century and returning to the gilded age, where massively wealthy robber barons got to influence government policy at will and exploit everyone else in the country in search of increased profit. At the outset of this election cycle, however, this effort took shape around the usual debates: trying to convince people, for instance, that the labor movement that gave them the weekend, an eight-hour workday, and safety regulations was actually the cause of their economic distress. Or that regulations that prevent companies from poisoning our air and water are counterproductive.
But child labor laws? Few things can raise emotional hackles like the pictures of children slaving away at factories during the industrial revolution, or in modern sweatshops in countries less regulated than the United States. And now, Newt Gingrich—someone who has held one of the highest political positions in the country—believes that we should return to those days, all in the name of teaching children how to have a stronger work ethic. It's just too bad for Speaker Gingrich, Gov. LePage and Sen. Lee that we don't have nearly as many factories for the children to work in: after all, the modern robber barons whose water they carry decommissioned them and shipped them overseas years ago.
Comments are closed on this story.