I was born to teenage parents who got married young and divorced early. My mother raised me herself, along with my six younger siblings, in Cleveland, and life wasn’t easy even in the best of times. At age 42, she died, and it fell on me, then aged 22 and working minimum wage, to take care of all of us. At the time, I was newly married with a baby son. And I was deeply afraid for our future.

My mother was born into a solidly middle-class family, but, as all too many Americans understand, everything doesn’t always go as planned—no matter how hard you work. She died on welfare. Without the support of the state, I shudder to think of where we would have ended

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