by Bruce Thornton
The Democrats have announced that Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren and Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke will be on hand at the Democratic National Convention to hype the alleged Republican “War on Women” and promote “Julia,” the cartoon character that touts the numerous boons Democrats supposedly provide women. The Dems’ showcasing of these three women highlights what’s at stake in November if Obama wins––even more expansion of government power that will further entangle women and men alike in dependency and servitude.
Fluke, you remember, appeared before some Congressmen last February and claimed that birth control cost $3000, arguing that making women bear this fiscal burden is a sexist crime against humanity as well as an assault on “women’s health.” Leave aside the creepiness of treating pregnancy as a disease. Given the numerous clinics that offer free birth control, Fluke’s claims were patently absurd. And making a student at a prestigious law school a spokesman for those women without Fluke’s options, opportunities, and resources was even more ridiculous. It revealed once again the hypocrisy of affluent feminists who advance their own careers by exploiting the misery of poor and working-class women. By every standard of well being––health, leisure, education, disposable income, or economic opportunity––the average middle class American woman today, let alone a college graduate heading for a lucrative law career, enjoys a better life than most of the men who ever existed. And the problems of poor and working-class women have less to do with their sex, and more to do with the lack of economic opportunity exacerbated by progressive policies that enable big government interference rather than creating the conditions for economic growth.
Then there’s Elizabeth Warren, or “Fauxcahontas” as she came to be called after she was exposed as having exploited an alleged 1/32 Cherokee heritage in order to get a leg up in her academic career by passing herself off as a “woman of color.” The spectacle of a blonde, blue-eyed Harvard Law professor getting special consideration because of a tenuous connection to a “protected group” was equally revealing of progressive hypocrisy. Once again, intrusive government policies designed to benefit those presumably victimized by past discrimination are more often the vehicles of careerist advancement for a white woman more privileged than most white males.
But even worse are Warren’s economic views. Don’t forget, she was the source of Obama’s now infamous “you didn’t build that” put-down of entrepreneurs and business builders. Last September Warren said, “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.” So factory-builders pay nothing for roads, public colleges, firemen, and police? In fact, they pay much, much more than their fair share of these public resources, because their tax payments have to make up for all the freeloaders––nearly half of taxpayers––who pay nothing. Like Obama, Warren wants to demonize the “makers” in order to justify appropriating more of their wealth to finance government programs that buy political support from the “takers.” It’s about power, the power of government agencies, government bureaucrats, and elite government “experts” to manage and control our lives and further their own careers––all financed by revenues expropriated from those who actually do create wealth and jobs.Finally there’s the cartoon character Julia, featured in an Obama campaign slide show “The Life of Julia” touting how much big government does for women with the programs Republicans allegedly want to “gut.” Its purpose is to show “how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime—and how Mitt Romney would change her story.” From Head Start to Medicare, Julia’s life is defined by her utter dependence on the federal government. The whole production is so silly that even the liberal New Yorker panned it: “’The Life of Julia’ borrows its aesthetic from USA Today and its narrative logic from Chutes and Ladders. It is a very bad place to begin a campaign. As a story, ‘The Life of Julia’ is a mess; it’s got the verisimilitude of a string of paper dolls. As an argument, it’s worse. Better public education and affordable health care are worth fighting for, urgently, and they matter to everyone, but the heart of the fight is not over whether Julia, a fictitious college-educated Web entrepreneur, can one day plant Brussels sprouts.”
Julia illustrates better than anything all the dangers of “democratic despotism” analyzed by Tocqueville 150 years ago. Rather than self-reliant individuals who rely on family, church, and civil society for support in negotiating the challenges of their lives, Obama champions the all powerful state that marginalizes and weakens these resources, and justifies ever greater interference in personal life by providing goods paid for by somebody else. Rather than the Founders’ vision of limited government allowing free people to pursue their happiness, Obama champions for women the “hubby state” that erodes their freedom and dignity by taking responsibility for their choices and actions, infantilizing them as much as a sugar daddy does a trophy wife.
That dependence and diminishment of women’s agency and freedom by intrusive big government is what connects Warren, Fluke, and Julia. Warren discounts the hard-work and talent of individuals and privileges instead the policies of government, which of course will always need more intrusive power and more money in order to continue providing these collective boons that allegedly help people to succeed. Fluke wants government-coerced payments for birth control so that women are less accountable for their sexual behavior, since the big brother state will coerce insurers to provide birth-control pills and, when she forgets to take them, a free abortion to undo the consequences of her actions. And Julia illustrates how thoroughly dependent women are under the “soft despotism” of big government, which replaces her personal relationships and resources with the bureaucratic functionaries armed with what Tocqueville called a “network of petty regulations––complicated, minute, and uniform,” until eventually women and men alike become “a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd.”
So who is conducting a “war on women?” The Dems, who want women dependent, their freedom restricted by the rules and regulations of big government, their independence and self-reliance sold for transient benefits? Or the Republicans, who want women and men left alone to make their own choices, take their own risks, accept the consequences of their own actions, pursue their own happiness, and thus achieve the dignity of free people who, as Tocqueville wrote, consider freedom “a good so precious and so necessary that no other good could console them for its loss,” and who “find, in tasting it, consolation for everything that occurs”?
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