Decades of Distortion - Page 13

Complex Agendas Within The Right



The success of the Right's campaign against welfare stems from its ability to weave together diverse anti-welfare themes from different submovements, creating a powerful synergism and unity among many sectors of the Right. AFDC proved a common theme that captured for the Right the resentment generated by the country's conservative religious revitalization, the contraction and restructuring of the economy, and white race resentment and bigotry.68 That is not to say, however, that there is always agreement over welfare reform among the Right's submovements. 69 For example, I have discussed earlier the ongoing tension over the proper role for women. The dominant formulation- housewife and mother for middle class women and wage-laborer for poor women, especially poor Black women- is not universally supported within the Right.

A spokesperson for the California-based Traditional Values Coalition criticized Governor Wilson's proposed welfare cuts because one result might be an increase in abortions among poor women.70 Yet the Christian Coalition criticized the "welfare reform" plan proposed by the National Governors Association in 1995 because it was "too soft on out-of-wedlock births."71

Representative Newt Gingrich, then a member of the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS), a group of "young Turk" Republicans in the House, argued in COS's "manifesto", Window of Opportunity, for tying welfare benefits to desirable patterns of behavior,72 but stated that "[r]unning a cheap welfare state cannot be our goal."73 The libertarian publication, Reason, criticized how "COS members have worked assiduously, often in alliance with the Moral Majority and other New Right groups, to erode individual freedom in several areas."74



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