Here’s an obvious truth: Men and women are different. This is not just a truth about wee-wees and hoo-haws. It’s also a truth about our character dispositions, interests, concerns, and virtues. We think and act differently. We talk differently. In a marriage and in child rearing, we also bring different assets and make different contributions. In fact, even when we don’t have children, men still act with the character of fatherliness and women still act with the character of motherliness. That’s probably why women have a far greater dominance in nurture-related jobs (think nursing, pre-school and elderly care) even in countries known for their economic freedom and gender equality such as Iceland and Norway. Liberal political elites don’t like to acknowledge these facts and even punish those who do (recall Google-gate), but these are still facts. How we account for these facts is a matter of dispute (nature vs nurture), but that these are facts should not be contested.
With the understanding that men and women differ in these ways, it makes good sense to presume that the furtherance and success of women in political office will have a noticeable difference in governance, particularly since the western political institutions and its viable political philosophies were entirely dominated by men a short time ago. Not only can we expect a noticeable difference in, say, state perspective, but we can also expect a difference in state expenditures and its values. What sort of differences? Well, seeing that women are more empathetic, explicitly nurturing and “prosocial” than men, we can expect to see a greater focus and greater expenditures on social issues. And that’s exactly what we do see. In fact, since women won the right to vote, we have seen a bigger state with a broader scope. That’s a fact (see here).
The feminization of politics can thus be partially described as the extension of motherliness from the home to the state. It’s what we might call the maternalization of politics.
There’s nothing bad about this per se. Men and women complement each other; and so men need the influence of women. Men also need to understand that charity is good. Compassion is good. Empathy is good. Women help us understand this. But for those of us on the political and economic right, the function of the state is not and cannot be even remotely parental. The state is not our mom. It’s not dad either. It’s also not a charitable organization. Thus, the impulse for women to avert risk, care and nurture to the point of self-sacrifice, though a noble trait in the home, stresses the proper function of the state, increasing the chance of a dependent citizenry, a bloated state and a paternalistic government. That’s worrisome. In addition, it also risks obfuscating the fine line between private and public, treating the members of the public not as free, autonomous citizens, but as family. It is thus no surprise that this exact sentiment was conveyed by governor Mario Cuomo during the Democratic Convention in 1984, just a few years after the radical feminization of American politics during the 60s and 70s. Check out what he said:
We believe in a single — We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings — reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child — that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
For Cuomo, America should see itself as a family. For him, we should look after each other, that your pain should be my pain, and so forth. But notice that he also says, in the first paragraph, that the idea of proper government should be the idea of family. He is domesticating governance and politics. He is thus appealing to the sensibilities and inclinations of women who had feminized the Party. He knows this, too. Women today eat that shit up. That’s likely why even today the majority of women regardless of age or martial status vote Democratic and very, very few women identify as libertarian or hold characteristically libertarian values. Sorry, guys, but libertarianism is significantly a man thing – a white male thing, to be exact. What’s more, single women significantly support the Democrats in their politics (luckily they’re not reliable voters), which should not be surprising, because Democratic social and economic policy is doing a better job of channeling single women’s motherly sentiments.
So to get to the crux of the blogpost, I’m uneasy with women in politics and with women’s vote because women tend to domesticate the state, its role and scope. They’ve done this since the beginning of their participation in politics. Their current participation and vote increases the risk of a bigger and more paternalistic, nanny-like state. That’s fine and dandy if you’re a socialist or a progressive thinker, but if you’re convinced that the state should be small and restricted, then, as it stands today, women’s participation in politics and their vote should give you an uneasy feeling, for their current participation and vote makes those proper ends less likely to obtain. To put it differently, women’s involvement in politics has been to the detriment of economic conservativism, which is a detriment to the good of society.
Anyways, to help remedy this detriment, I advise conservatives to better frame their policy and issues so that they attract women (e.g., pro-family, tough on crime, tough on absentee dads, pro-animal cruelty laws). In addition, I think that conservatives need to make a clearer and more visible case for why big government is bad for America and even worse for the poor and the marginalized (see here , here and here). Lastly, it would also be helpful if single men married women, too. Marriage and children seem to redirect their motherly instincts to a domain better and more naturally suited (e.g., the home). It’s not just men who are pacified through marriage.
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