OXON HILL, MD — Sheriff David Clarke blamed the nation’s crippling cycle of poverty and the “myth” of mass incarceration of black males on the Democrats and their “failed, liberal urban policies” which he says have “screwed this country up.”
Clarke said while speaking on a panel titled “Breaking Bad: What it Takes to Rise Above Circumstances,” at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) on Friday:
Mass incarcerations, especially of black males, is a myth. Look, the Democrats did this. They have screwed this country up. They screwed it up with failed, liberal urban polices.” Clarke added his belief that the Democrats did this because while the country is discussing ways to break the cycle of poverty, they call for “more programs, more government intervention, and more spending of your tax dollars.
Clarke was joined on the panel by Ashley McGuire of The Catholic Association, Margaret Iuculano, of the American Conservative Union, and Dr. Wendy Warcholik and J. Scott Moody, who work on the ACU Foundation Family Prosperity Initiative.
Clarke, who has served 40 years in law enforcement, said “By the time these individuals get to us, there’s only one thing we can do: There’s one thing cops do and cops do it well. We lock people up. That’s what we are designed to do, to separate dangerous people from law-abiding society.”
He said when people ask him what has to be done to end crime, he says, “Fix the schools.” When asked what has to be done to end the cycle of poverty, Clarke said, “Fix the schools. What do we have to do to reduce unemployment in these urban centers mainly occupied by blacks and Hispanics? Fix the schools … Education has always been then vehicle to upward mobility in the United States.”
He said the government is spending too much money and not achieving much of anything. “I bet I could cut that [money spent] in half and still get the same results,” he said, asking what Milwaukee Public School (MPS) is doing with $1.2 billion a year. “You know what the budget is for the entire City of Milwaukee, 600,000 people? $1.3 billion. So you have to ask yourselves, what is MPS doing with that $1.2 billion; almost as much as it takes to run an entire city?” He said, “horrible graduation rates, horrible truancy rates, a growing education gap between black students and their counterparts, failing math scores, failing reading scores,” among other things.
He cited Dr. Ben Carson as an example of the “sheer determination of an individual” to succeed despite being born into a less-than-desirable situation. Clarke said Carson’s mother had a third-grade education and swore she would not allow her two sons to end up like her.
“The Democrats don’t want that to happen,” Clarke said. “You have to depend on us to make it … you have to vote this way because we’ll help you out of this plight, and they don’t do it.”
He said he didn’t have a solution but rather a remedy because of the fact that parental responsibility has a great deal to do with this problem.
“Virtues need to be instilled in young people; a virtue being defined as a redeeming quality. They are not born with them. Things like respect, personal responsibility.” He added, “the religious education that I had went a long way.”
Clarke said, “We’ve become a very, very secular society and that is not how this country was started. God has been marginalized, God has been pushed out of public square. You can’t pray in public. It’s amazing, right?”
Ashley McGuire of The Catholic Association said, “There’s a real attack right now on the religious liberty of adoption agencies and parents and parental rights when it comes to public school.” She suggested that parents get involved in their kids’ PTAs. She also said a policy issue to watch is the issue of paid family leave, through “the conservative approach.”
She said society has started to look down upon motherhood and fatherhood and noted that marriage is in the decline:
It’s become sort of politically incorrect to even talk about the differences between men and women, the different things that they bring to a marriage and to a family. It’s ironic because we know now more than ever before how badly children need mothers and fathers and need them to be married to each other in order to thrive. And yet, we are in complete denial, and even talking about those realities, is politically incorrect.
McGuire said all society talks about is “toxic masculinity,” while forgoing the critical role that men play as husbands and fathers. Or society says that women who decide they want to put their careers on the back burner to focus on child-rearing have wasted their education. “I think we need to reclaim, as positive goods, the differences between men and women and the essential roles of mothers and fathers.”
Margaret Iuculano, of the American Conservative Union, spoke of rampant poverty within the foster system. “On any given day, over 400,000 children are being raised by our government. In 2015 alone, over 670,000 children spent time in the foster care system,” Iuculano said. She noted that over half of those children in the 2015 statistics were people of color. “These are alarming numbers and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the role of government is to raise children.”
She said she had gone through the foster system herself and realized first-hand how terrible the system is. She lived in over 15 foster homes, group homes, and juvenile hall by the age of 16. “These children come into the system through no fault of their own and once removed we would like to believe that the government is going to give them a better place than the one we removed them from. But that is not the fact for many of these children.”
Dr. Wendy Warcholik and J. Scott Moody, who work on the ACU Foundation Family Prosperity Initiative, spoke about how societal and economic factors play major roles in the opioid and drug epidemic.
“I’m here to tell you, as an economist, we can’t just focus on the economics,” Warcholik said. “We have to focus on family formation. We have to focus on health outcomes, obesity, alcohol use, substance abuse, STDs, all of these things that impact our lives and the lives of the people that we love.”
She added, “and so we’ve created a model that does just that to create a conversation about those things in our culture that are taboo and we’re not supposed to talk about,” speaking of the Family Prosperity Index.
Moody said, “Utah becomes the poster child for why economic and social factors are interrelated … there are not enough young people in our states to maintain current population levels, except in a state like Utah,” which is highly successful economically.
Moody said in states like New England where the economies are weaker, and not vibrant, people lose hope. “And when they lose hope, they look for other things to fill that void and, unfortunately, that’s been opioids and now heroin and now fentanil, which is 100 times stronger than heroin.”
He said there was recently a bust in Boston where authorities arrested and seized 100 pounds of fentanil, “which could have killed the entire population of Massachusetts if it had been dispersed.” He added, “We need to fix this crisis of hopelessness and we are calling it ‘dynamics of despair.’”
Moody attributed this to “the breakdown of the family, decline in religiosity, and over incarceration,” and noted that people who are religious are healthier.
Wareholik said she would like to see more religious communities involved in helping to eradicate the opioid crisis. “You can somehow act as a messenger or a mediator to get your church involved in the direct service and get your politicians involved in your church, and that’s a really good thing.”