Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Thursday doubled down on controversial comments he made about single parenthood in his 1995 book.
"My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn't changed at all," Bush told MSNBC. "In fact, since 1995 … the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate."
The likely 2016 presidential candidate wrote in the book Profiles in Character that public shaming would be an effective way to curb the "irresponsible behavior" of single parents, teenage criminals and people on welfare. He pointed to Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as an example of shame's "strong historical roots" in American society. In the 1850 novel, the main character is forced to wear a red "A" for "adulterer" on her clothes as punishment for having an extramarital affair that produced a child.
One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.