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Fatherhood and Democracy

 

The ideal citizen in any high-functioning democracy is the father. He is more important politically than the mother;  more important than the young man without children or the single woman; more important as a type than even the property owner. If I were to build an infant republic, I would limit the franchise to fathers, possibly making ownership of property an additional qualification.

There may be great statesmen or thinkers who have no children, men such as Alexis de Tocqueville who possess vision and insight. There may be celibate spiritual leaders and occasionally a great woman leader.  But, it is the ordinary father who is the human cell of democracy, without whom it cannot prosper over the long term.

In the father, the impersonal and personal, the abstract and concrete, the public and private are more likely to exist in the sort of harmony that makes for good political judgment. By father, I don’t mean any man who has biologically reproduced, but the man who takes part in rearing his children and has an active bond with them, whether they are young or adults. The man who never sees his children, has no interest in them, or only supplies compulsory financial support does not meet this definition.

For a woman, the world is too personal and parochial; she seeks security first. For the man without children, the future is sterile; even property or personal wealth will not make him care for those who will live many decades from now. The father is more apt to possess both public-spiritedness and loyalty, dispassion and compassion.

Patriarchy is often misunderstod. Too often it conjures images of despotic chiefs or overlords. A democratic patriarchy is the rule of ordinary fathers. As Pericles said in his famous funeral oration:

   … for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests and apprehensions of a father.

 

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