The Thinking 

Is it Acceptable to Question the Franchise?

April 9, 2010



I have enjoyed your site for some time as well as your comments at VFR, but have hesitated to post until now. However, given your additional comments to responses on the Free at Last bit methinks the time to open the suffrage can o’ worms might be at hand. 

I discussed this with my wife some months ago conveying to her my opinion suffrage was a huge mistake, women have no business voting, and our republic would be far better off if they, (among numerous others), did not have the “right” to vote. (As a relevant aside, when exactly did that become a God given right? Just to be sure I re-read the Constitution and Bill of Rights this morning paying special attention to try and find the “right” to vote listed therein. Alas, I fear I must report failure in that effort…) Given the social programming bombarding her since birth she initially reached for the phone to have the large gentlemen in white take me away. Upon unplugging said phone from the wall I asked her if she really believed her divine roles as wife and mother were somehow added to or diminished from the slightest bit by going into a small booth and pushing some buttons? 

In any case my true goal here is to request that you do a full posting on the subject of women and the “right” to vote. This piece and this (among other Lott material) were of particular interest to me in this regard.

Laura writes:

Thank you.

I have touched on the subject here before, stating that I do not accept the view that the women’s vote is the foundation of female identity, as it is so often presented to be, and that collectively women voters push government toward socialism and society toward an anti-family stance. This does not amount to campaigning against the women’s vote. Such a thing would be ludicrous, but these remarks are part of an exploration of the issue. Here‘s a discussion at VFR. I would state some things differently than I did in that discussion. I plan to talk about it more here in the future.

But, first let’s ask this. Why even discuss it?

It is outrageously radical. One can only bring the scorn of 99.9 percent of all women and 90 percent of all men down on one’s head. You’re lucky your wife didn’t throw a shoe at you. And besides, there isn’t any chance of reverting to the male franchise anytime soon, if ever. 

It is important for several reasons to explore the matter. First, much of modern feminism took shape during the years of suffragism and it’s important to look at what the goals and interest of the proponents of the female franchise were. The existence of substantial numbers of anti-suffragists among middle-class women is rarely discussed. The idea that women themselves all favored the female franchise is flatly wrong. They did not. I will be discussing the work and efforts here of some of the women who did not. So the issue is a good way of approaching some of the foundational misconceptions of so-called women’s history.

Secondly, the issue of the women’s vote gets to the heart of feminism’s refusal to allow any significant public recognition of male and female differences and any deference to masculine authority and objectivity. The vote is more than just a politicial privilege, it is a symbol. The male-only franchise recognized that the family was a corporate body with one political representative. Just as a Congressman is the representative of his district, so the male head was the representative of his family. The idea that women were not represented before the female vote is just a simple, bold-faced lie. The unity and autonomy of the family is at issue.

Thirdly, it is important to address because of the nature of our crisis, the transformation of government in the last 100 years. We have no choice but to examine the causes for this. We have no choice but to try and understand what they are even if we cannot eliminate those conditions. Maybe it is possible for women to address some of the deleterious effects the female vote has had on government and to check their own political inclinations. There is a basic misconception that to question the women’s vote is to state that women are morally inferior and unintelligent. This is a knee-jerk feminist idea. I totally reject it. Obviously, many women are qualified to intelligently assess political candidates.

There are other important issues regarding the franchise, namely the matter of property qualifications, marital status and age. The franchise is an elephant in the room that is rarely acknowledged.

                                           — Comments —

Samson writes:

The idea that women were not represented before the female vote is just a simple, bold-faced lie. The unity and autonomy of the family is at issue.

Once, many moons ago, I canvassed neighbourhoods on behalf of the local conservative candidate. I vividly remember knocking on one door, and out came a gentleman who assured us he was very sympathetic to our cause. Would he like a lawn sign? we asked. With a rather embarrassed grimace, he replied that, well, yes, he would, but his wife would surely be against it, being a supporter of the other party.

That was my first real awakening to the family unity issue. I wanted to say, “Wait, what? Aren’t you married to her? How could you have real intimacy with someone who doesn’t share your worldview?” While I do argue that spouses should agree on religion, I am not arguing that they need be in 100% agreement on everything in life – that is impossible – or that they even need to agree on politics. But it seems to me that when a “family” is a free-for-all, lacking a representative who speaks for the whole, then that lack of political unity must needs carry over into a lack of emotional intimacy as well.

Laura writes:

The female franchise is often viewed as a valve for releasing any political tensions that may exist in a marriage. If each party has his say at the polls, then there is no need for friction at home, or so the thinking goes.

But there is a case to be made that the universal franchise increased, not lessened, friction between spouses. 

Jake Jacobsen writes:

This subject has been on my mind as well. I imagine most men, if they were honest, would tell you the same thing. Some of the comments my wife has brought home over the years from her estrogen dominated office would shiver your timbers.

I thought the movie ‘John Adams’ provided a beautiful model for how women can influence the republic in a godly fashion. In the film whenever John is presented with a challenge he goes to his wife who is always willing to take the time to talk through the problem and present him with her perspective. Quite forcefully sometimes!

It was truly beautiful and so obviously of God. The interplay between the masculine and feminine, the balancing of differing natures and essences, this is the stuff of the divine. It is quite ironic to me how often our opponents accuse us of a lack of subtlety or nuance yet the solution to all life’s ills in their book is “equalizing power” and maximizing autonomy, how unnuanced is that?

Hannon writes:

When this subject was first was brought to my attention by Lawrence Auster in the VFR entry you cite, it really piqued my curiosity. It struck me as a fascinating venue for good faith dialogue the likes of which few have considered. It was also naturally shocking in its way but I did not assume all women would be violently opposed to the philosophical ideas involved.

By dint of remote theoretical possibility, you seem to imply that some women might “refrain” from voting if they chose to do so. This would be possible, but aside from obvious social barriers there are also “purely” political ones. For example, if some conservative married couples were to decide that one vote, one household was an improvement over two votes, I think liberals would see this as a godsend. Under current conditions any directed trend away from women voting– presumably involving only conservative families– would lead to crushing defeat at the polls for conservatives generally. It is a trap that resembles the two-income household model: who will quit first to realize an arrangement they both agree is more appropriate?

I look forward to your future explorations of this important topic.

Laura writes:

When I mentioned possible change in the short term, I didn’t envision women refraining from voting. You’re right, that wouldn’t work for the reasons you mention. I meant they might recognize their tendency toward “compassionate” government and try to keep that in check. Again, this is another reason for looking at the issue even though the chances of reform are remote.
Lydia Sherman writes:
Voting was not for everyone and anyone, during developmental stages of our country, and other countries. I often get letters regarding the fact that women, for the most part, did not vote, prior to modern feminism. I point out that in the formative years of our country, while new territories were being discovered, and states were being added, most of the people in the country did not vote, either, including many men. The vote was gradually added to to include qualified men, who were heads of families and owned land. Now we have whole communities who do not own anything, who live in apartments, out-voting those who own their houses and own farm property. That means they are establishing policy and voting on increased taxes for them. One feminist reporter in India was outraged at the history of the U.S. , particularly that women could not vote. I pointed out that no one could vote, not men or women, even in India, for many centuries. As the country matured, they added privileges to citizens, and eventually, more people could vote. A lot of people just do not understand this and become enraged that women could not vote, however, many men could not vote, either.
Laura writes:
One of the motivating factors in the women’s suffrage movement was the extension of the franchise to relatively low-status men.
Lydia writes:
The problem with giving the women the vote was that it changed the focus and dynamics of those campaigning for office. The vote for women could divide the family, and could cancel out the husband’s vote. The politicians recognized this, so they could appeal to the women’s issues – child care, equal opportunity employment, education – and get their vote. It divided the family, in my opinion. The vote feminized politics.


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