Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rethinking Women's Suffrage Or How To Get Lots of Dates

Today's first column:


Democracy, notes H. L. Mencken, “provides the only really amusing form of government endured by mankind.” In watching the debates, especially the incoherent babbling of “America's Mayor”, I find myself agreeing with Mencken. But a more interesting fact arises. While our leaders who have proven successful at using democracy believe in it very heartily, the people as a whole do not. Indeed, there is always a largely unsuccessful campaign to get out the vote-or-die—which is odd. If democracy is so good, why can't the people be made to realize it? And if democracy, which vests, for some odd reason, virtue in the unwashed masses, why can't said be made to see the virtue of voting?

It may be possible to make a moral case for democracy, but I have not seen one, and I doubt that anyone would stoop so low as to make it. But there is a practical case for it: democracy, if it has any positive value at all, is only good insofar as the people care for the human rights for which the democracy was first formed. And when the people care not for liberty; when they allow their leaders to take it away and oppress them under draconian laws and staggering taxes; when their property can be given to the government without provocation; when the causes which previously drew them together to form a “more perfect union” have all faded, democracy has proven itself worthless. Indeed worse; for while under Voltaire's ideal “soft despotism,” the people bore no responsibility for their conditions, democracy makes the people their own jailers.

Now, it is no secret that government, once small and generally harmless, has grown to gargantuan proportions. Economist John Lott summarizes: “From the beginning of the country to the 1920s, the federal government had been about 2 to 3 percent of GNP. You'd have a war sometimes and it would go up. After the war was over, government would go back down to where had been previously. But it began to grow through the 20s and the 30s and 40s.” We now appear to be stuck with the miserable beast. The Republicans don't even pretend to believe in small government anymore; only the lonely libertarians are wary of a government which has grown beyond the wildest dreams of the fiercest founding federalist. At this point, democracy is inimical to responsible, which is to say, small government, the only kind which hasn't the power to usurp civil rights and start immoral foreign wars.

A case could be made for getting rid of democracy entirely. But a less drastic course presents itself, courtesy again of Mr. Lott: “I've noticed from looking around at these countries that the government growth seemed to coincide with when women were given the right to vote in these places...The effect is dramatic. If you look at 10 years prior to when a state gives women the right to vote, you find expenditures and revenues were flat. Once women were given the right to vote, the next year you see an increase in government expenditures. It keeps going up dramatically. In 10 years, government expenditures and revenue doubled in real terms.”

When one recalls the role of women in the accursed temperance movement of the early twentieth century, Lott's observation can be taken without surprise. Whether because of nature—my view—or because of centuries of social conditioning, women are equipped with a motherly instinct which compels them to vote for measures which increase safety, thereby restricting the freedom upon which government ought not to impinge. The quickest and surest return to more sensible government then, is, almost inarguably, the repeal of the 19th Amendment and an end to women's suffrage.

This reform is not practical of course, and it will be fought tooth and nail not only by women but also by the leaders who rather like Big Government, and know that women are good and loyal customers. But the right to vote is not a right at all; it is merely a privilege, created by man, and can not only be taken away without real harm, but must be when that so-called right is causing damage to real rights, such as liberty.

If there were a way to keep all who loathe liberty from voting, I would advocate such a measure; but there is not. Yet the United States once existed quite happily without women voters, and I hope for a return to days before, “the tyranny of the petticoat”, in John Adams immortal phrase. With luck, after eight years of tyranny under Hillary Clinton's petticoat, dreaded image that, even women will begin to rethink their role in the republic.

4 comments:

Dick Masterson said...

"The quickest and surest return to more sensible government then, is, almost inarguably, the repeal of the 19th Amendment and an end to women's suffrage."

Truer words were almost never spoken.

-Dick

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Um, thanks...

Anonymous said...

Alas, the coming Presidential election of Hillary the Healthcare Hun will not cause women to "rethink" anything. And there's the problem: women don't "rethink" much at all. Once an emotion-driven decision has been made, there is great reluctance to admit that the outcome has been poorer than if another choice had been made instead.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Once an emotion-driven decision has been made, there is great reluctance to admit that the outcome has been poorer than if another choice had been made instead.

Only to a point. I'm not sure Hillary's presidency will be enough to cause women to rethink much, which I why I hoped that it would, but eventually even women are going to regret some of their decisions to let big government grow.

By then, it will probably be too late.