Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's push to restore shame to society appears to have been a part of his regular stump speech as head of the Foundation for Florida's Future, an organization he founded to stay publicly active during the time between his first, failed run for governor and his second successful run.
In a chapter "The Restoration of Shame" of his 1995 book, Profiles in Character Bush bemoaned the loss of the stigmatization of having children outside marriage and the need to restore shame to society for having kids out of wedlock, taking public assistance, and in schools. He fondly cited the use of corporal punishment in one school district to institute shame noting the school district had never had a school shooting.
In an October 1995 speech on public policy in Georgia, Bush made similar remarks on the need to restore shame to society. Bush singled out public assistance and the lack of the "shotgun wedding" as key areas where there was less shame than the 1960s.
"First, we need to restore shame," Bush said. "There is no shameful behavior anymore in America. You can do just about anything you want to do, and no one minds. In fact, we are so numbed by what's happened around us that we've turned it off.
Bush described a conversation about a young student killing a each shrugged off by a bystander as an ordinary event.
"As I've described, my disgust and sadness for a teacher getting killed by a 10 year old, how troubling that is — I was in an elevator and the person next to me kind of shrugged it off and said, 'Well, it happens all the time.' And I can understand how people respond to this, because, if you don't, you can go crazy. If you saw the things that are going on it would be very difficult to do it. So the natural response is to say, 'Well, that's just the way it is.' I don't think so."
Bush said the "sense of shame" needs to be restored to society so certain attitudes become perverse in your family, neighborhood, and community.
"I believe that we need to restore a sense of shame, so that certain behavior makes you blush. Certain behavior becomes such that you don't accept it. And little by little perhaps that type of attitude becomes perverse not just in your family, but in your neighborhood, and perhaps in your community. And over time begin to restore a sense of shame for behavior that is outrageous."
Bush said such shame existed in the 1960s saying in that decade many people declined public assistance and adoption was a more accepted option for newly born children than abortion.
"It is the type of shame that existed for example in the 1960s, when half of the people who were qualified to accept public assistance didn't take it because they thought it was shameful. It's the type of activity that made adoption a much better option than bringing a child to term without the ability to take care of that child or abortion. It's sense of shame that created the shotgun wedding. Does anybody hear about the shotgun wedding anymore? It's the sense that used to exist about people who were very talented or intelligent cheating in school. It's the sense we don't have that makes our culture so debased and so appreciated over time."
On Thursday, Bush spoke about the book with reporters during his European trip.
"As it relates to the book, the book was written in 1995," he said. "My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of their children hasn't changed at all. In fact, since 1995, if you look at the — I spoke in the book about cultural indicators — the country has moved in the wrong direction, the 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate and you think about this from the perspective of children, it puts a huge, it's a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we're in today. And it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to lives of purpose and meaning."