September 23, 2003


When women marry, Democrats lose (Dennis Prager, September 23, 2003,

Given women's primal desire to be protected, if a woman has no man to provide it, she will seek security elsewhere -- and elsewhere today can only mean the government. In effect, the state becomes her husband. This phenomenon has frequently been commented on with regard to the breakdown of many black families. The welfare state simply rendered many black men unnecessary and therefore undesirable as spouses: Why marry when you can get more benefits from the state while remaining single (and get even more money if you have children while remaining single)?

Once a woman does marry, however, her need for the state not only diminishes, she now begins to view the state as inimical to her interests. For the married woman, especially if she has children, two primal urges work against her having a pro-big government attitude. Her urge to be protected, which is now fulfilled by her husband, and her primal urge to protect her nest are now endangered by the government, which as it grows, takes away more and more of her family's money.

Once a woman marries and has children, therefore, her deepest desires -- to be protected and to protect her family -- work as strongly on behalf of conservative values and voting Republican as they did on behalf of liberalism and the Democratic Party when she was single.

The other reason married women are less likely to be liberal and vote Democratic relates to maturity and wisdom.

Just about everyone -- a man as much as a woman -- is rendered more mature and wiser after marrying. This is not an insult to singles. It was as true of me as of anyone else. If you're single, ask any married person -- happily or unhappily married -- whether or not marriage has matured them.

The single biggest change induced by marriage is that you can no longer think only about yourself. "I" becomes "we." Narcissism becomes far less possible in marriage than in the single state. And just as marriage decreases narcissism, it increases wisdom. Having to relate to another human being (especially of the opposite sex) to whom you have made a lifelong commitment (even if it ends in divorce) vastly increases your wisdom. And if you have children, your wisdom increases exponentially.

Which explains why the Left is trying to destroy and the Right to preserve the institution of marriage, which is in itself anti-statist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2003 2:11 PM

This article is just detestable, but at least it has some sort of internal logic. On the other hand, oj, I have to ask of your closing comment if you really believe that "the Left" has some sort of master strategy for electoral dominance that involves the destruction of marriage as a viable institution. I have to ask exactly which policy championed by "the Left" can have such an effect (yeah, yeah, I know, once those homos start "marrying" each other I'm considering a divorce myself). I wonder where sanity might enter into these considerations.

As for the article, it works with only the most broad and demonstrably false generalizations regarding conservative/liberal or Democrat/Republican agendas, and is worthless as analysis as a result. The "urge to be protected" bit is straight out of behavioral Darwinism, which I wouldn't think would have much to offer someone of this political bent, but even if it has an iota of truth in it, where are the studies behind it? Which moron came up with the idea that a woman must find her "protector" in a man or in government? Does anyone seriously think that there are any women in this country who think this way, even subconsciously?

I have a great deal of sympathy for the "marriage matures you" line, however, having experienced it myself and seen it happen to others. Even here, though, I fail to see how that leads inevitably to Republicanism. It is true that married women, or women who have been marred, are more likely to vote Republican than unmarried women, but then older women exhibit the same trend, as do wealthier women, and (I would have to imagine) women who are categorically more likely to marry.

There is also a very good correlation between the amount of higher education one pursues and one's tendency to vote Democratic. So should we say Republicanism correlates with greater "maturity" and with greater "ignorance?"

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 23, 2003 4:03 PM

M.: As someone with a postgraduate degree who votes Republican, might I offer instead that Republicanism correlates with greater "maturity" and lesser "indoctrination"?

Posted by: Chris at September 23, 2003 5:30 PM

Dennis Prager is spot on, as the Brits would say.

The statists (e.g., Democrats) imply the husband/wife as replaceable by the welfare check. And, I mean totally replaceable. Thus, the guy and gal going to college on federal loans is married to the state for support. Suckling on the state teat is so successful that reliance in the future on onesself - and on another individual - is seen as senseless.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 23, 2003 5:42 PM


All of that is true: married women, older women, wealthier women all do vote more conservatively, for freedom rather than security. I don't even get what part of this you're arguing with goiven that you acknowledge how it plays out in the voting booth.

And, yes, the Left has to destroy any institution that rivals the State--from churches to businesses to private organizations to the family--in order that people be completely dependent on the State. That's Political Theory 101, isn't it? de Tocqueville recognized it almost 200 years ago anyway.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 6:58 PM


Just about every change in family law in the past two generations has been designed to facilitate and hasten the exit from marriage for any reason whatsoever, and to secure the finacial position of the person wanting to leave. These legal changes have been buttressed by an "individual freedom" ethos run amok and especially by feminist encouragement to women to deny any priority--husband, family, children--over their immediate desires and self-gratification. All these changes have come from the left. Everybody sings the praises of family rotely, just like everybody is for America, but only serious religions actiually try to do much to save and help the distressed ones. There are public counselling services galore, but none really focus on keeping families together.

So, divorce rates soar to 50%. The typical answer from the left is that that proves how many unhappy marriages there were in the past, a conclusion that can be readily debunked by the scarcity of the number of our ancestors who tried to warn their children off marriage or expressed opposition to the institution. (a few dissolute proto-leftists like Shelley excepted)

Of course there are many decent leftists who believe they are not undercutting the institution, only protecting the weak and miserable. They are like the secularists on this site who believe religious people don't need societal support because they just keep on truckin' like spiritual joggers secure behind the armour of their faith and innoculated against whatever moral cesspool they live in. Likewise, happy marriages are assumed to be happy, happy, happy always and imune to strife, stress and doubt. The world ain't that way.

All you have to do is listen to the puzzled voices of our elders who simply can't believe how silly our preoccupations with relationships are. They simply didn't think or worry about things we now see as terribly important. They didn't have a choice and were expected, and expected themselves, to get on with it.

Were there unhappy, miserable marriages? You bet. Does easy divorce help some justly? Yes, perhaps, but put those numbers beside the number of kids without parents, the many who regret their hurried divorces and the millions who found divorce to be a one way ticket to poverty, and it is hard to understand just how exactly we've become so enlightened.

There is hyperbole in the article and the political conclusions may be a little too pat and self-serving, but the basic thesis that the left has it in for marriage--consciously or naively--holds.

Posted by: Peter B at September 23, 2003 7:43 PM

Peter, OJ:

The article, and your reasoning are very persuasive, except for one minor detail:

The left just isn't that smart.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 23, 2003 8:26 PM

But the Right is and explained it all two centuries ago.

[I]ndividual alms-giving established valuable ties between the rich and the poor. The deed itself
involves the giver in the fate of the one whose poverty he has undertaken to alleviate. The latter,
supported by aid which he had no right to demand and which he had no hope to getting, feels
inspired by gratitude. A moral tie is established between those two classes whose interests and
passions so often conspire to separate them from each other, and although divided by circumstance
they are willingly reconciled. This is not the case with legal charity. The latter allows the alms to
persist but removes its morality. The law strips the man of wealth of a part of his surplus without
consulting him, and he sees the poor man only as a greedy stranger invited by the legislator to share
his wealth. The poor man, on the other hand, feels no gratitude for a benefit that no one can refuse
him and that could not satisfy him in any case. Public alms guarantee life but do not make it
happier or more comfortable than individual alms-giving; legal charity does not thereby eliminate
wealth or poverty in society. One class still views the world with fear and loathing while the other
regards its misfortune with despair and envy. Far from uniting these two rival nations, who have
existed since the beginning of the world and who are called the rich and poor, into a single people,
it breaks the only link which could be established between them. It ranges each one under a banner,
tallies them, and, bringing them face to face, prepares them for combat.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 8:32 PM

One at a time:

To Chris: I have a postgraduate degree myself. Looking back at all of that education, it seems pretty clear to me that the most blatant and obvious "indoctrination" was attempted in grade school, middle school and high school. In college I was rather abruptly exposed to left-wing viewpoints that were completely absent in my compulsory education, and some of them were put forward by course instructors. On the other hand, I was also exposed to more extreme right-wing viewpoints than I had heretofore experienced in an educational setting as well (though these were rather easier to find on my television, and so were not unfamiliar). My postgraduate education was rather focused on a particular field, as are most, and so political indoctrination played little part, at least officially. Unofficially, the majority of the postgraduates and professionals I encountered could be placed on the leftward end of the political spectrum, when political persuasion could be discerned at all.

Perhaps my experience was atypical, and I have certainly read of cases of leftist "indoctrination" at the compulsory education level, but the bulk of what I have read and learned from others indicates that whatever "indoctrination" exists works primarily at the lower levels of education, and tends to tilt rightward.

Free your mind, as they say.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 24, 2003 10:59 AM


There are two things at work there. First, post-graduate work selects for liberalism. Academia is a notoriously liberalm bastion, as is the law these days. And as medicine becomes increasingly dependent on government it too has a captive population.

More important though, the smarter a person the more likely they are to be of the Left, because they think that they are so smart that they and those like them should dictate how the less intelligent live their lives. They've a totalitarian impulse.

As John Stuart Mill said, conservatives are the stupid party.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 11:10 AM

I'm afraid I just don't have the magic eye into the hearts and souls of men that you do, OJ. "The smarter a person the more likely they are to be of the Left, because they think that they are so smart?" I would assume that there are people who are motivated in just this fashion. There are enough examples of the tendency to make it obvious. But how uncharitable is it, how utterly cold and lacking in empathy, to ascribe "a totalitarian impulse" to "the Left" in general? I believe (or, at the very least, I would like to believe) that a greater number of "leftists" are motivated differently: that they truly believe that a left-leaning political philosophy is more responsible and more beneficial to society as a whole. The overarching point, however, is that I don't presume to know the motivations behind "the Left" or "the Right." I do try to fairly evaluate claims from both extremes regardless.

One could just as easily ascribe a "totalitarian impulse" to those right-wingers who believe their righteousness allows them to dictate how the less righteous live _their_ lives. Hence the origin of the pernicious concept of "tolerance" as practiced by "the Right": we know what you are doing will damn you to hell, but we will refrain from stoning you.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 24, 2003 11:59 AM


I don't disagree at all. The Left is very well-intentioned, they just believe security a superior value to freedom. Nor are they necessarily wrong. Both are important values. However, the impetus towards freedom is the basis of the Anmerican experiment, so Leftism is effectively anti-American. Not even that makes it "wrong" or "evil" though. It's just different than what most Americans happen to believe in.

And, yes, the Right that supported Nazism was totalitarian. However, it was therefore not conservative.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 12:44 PM

OJ: Your capsule description of the goals of "the Left" is an oversimplification. One could easily characterize "the Right" in the same exact fashion; all that is necessary is a shift in the exact meanings of "security" and "freedom." There are quite a number of ways to define "freedom;" perhaps the easiest caricature of the one you seem to be using would be a rather absolutist view of property rights. A similar caricature of a leftist "freedom" would be complete sexual liberation. Only a libertarian would sympathize with both desires, and it should be obvious how either "freedom," if carried to its logical extreme, ends in societal disaster.

Similarly with "security;" you seem to be referring to the leftist goal of "security" as state-mandated economic support for the needy. Fair enough, but a number of leftists would also call that "freedom"--economic freedom, that is. To take just one application of this, of what use is freedom of speech when the (supposedly) public airwaves are controlled by an oligarchic elite?

Leftism is hardly "anti-American." Leftists simply concentrate on different types of freedom than rightists. As for what "most Americans" happen to believe in, programs and policies championed by "the Left"--Social Security, progressive taxation, environmental protection, tolerance of "alternative lifestyles" (but not gay marriage)--are supported by solid majorities of the population. But no one is audacious enough to consider opposition to such policies "anti-American." That particular label would represent a true first nod to a "totalitarian impulse," with or without the disclaimer that "anti-American" does not necessarily imply "wrong."

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 24, 2003 1:54 PM


License is actually a form of security rather than freedom. It is not the behavior that matters in such cases but that those around you accept you as "normal". For instance, there's rather little official persecution of homosexual any more even though homosexuality is still viwewed as immoral. But the Left isn't concerned with the behavior itself or the the absence of persecution but with acceptance of the behavior by society in general.

You can call the State mandated transfer of money from A to B,. C, & D freedom, but you only do so because you recognize the need to adopt the rhetoric of the majority, not because you believe it true.

Polls show that majorities of Americans favor privatized Social Security and flat taxes, environmental restrictions on other people but not on themselves, and believe alternative lifestyles are immoral.

Your vision of society is quite similar to that of Europe which has likewise chosen security over liberty and they seem happy enough, as their political power, economies and population dwindle. It's a reasonable choice for a society. Just not one consistent with our nation's traditions.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 2:14 PM

OJ: Your first point is a good one, as far as it goes, which is only as far as the real battles being fought. To focus on homosexuality as an example: there is certainly a push to recognize it as "normal," or at least within acceptable norms. But the real debates are over more official matters: the purging of anti-sodomy laws, benefits and potentially other recognition of same-sex partners, freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation, freedom to serve in the military. That each of these changes subsumes an assumption on the part of civil government that homosexuality is within accepted norms of behavior is perfectly true; that each also involves the freedom to engage in that behavior, as opposed to the "security" of approval from society at large, is also true.

Any and every form of taxation is going to involve the transfer of money from A to B, C and D, because there is no government expenditure of any sort that is going to benefit every citizen equally. The question before us is not the fairness of a system of progressive taxation to go with that, but whether or not we believe that there is a minimum level of economic "security" necessary in order to make the "freedom" endowed within us the least bit meaningful. In Europe that minimum level has been set quite a bit higher than here in the U.S., and while their population dwindles, their economies do not. As has been shown time and time again in this history of this nation and elsewhere, within certain limits the level of taxation has little to no impact on the performance of the economy.

In the long-running comparison of Europe to the U.S., some consideration is also due the simple fact that Europe has a much larger population on a smaller landmass. Perhaps Americans are better able to resist the presumed trade of "freedom" for "security," as you define these terms, because they have more space to do so, at least so far. One should also note that the political and economic power of the U.S. has been in decline for 50 years and that this trend is if anything accelerating today, despite the preeminence of the American military.

As for polls, my own figures are based on a balance of several polls on the listed subjects. Any individual poll is less an indication of how the populace really feels than of what outcome the pollster was commissioned to produce. To take privatized Social Security for one example, majorities come out in support when the poll questions are worded in very generalized terms (who wouldn't want the promised higher returns and greater control?); as the ramifications of privatization schemes are explained in more detail, support for privatization plummets. This is actually a rather clear example of a trade-off of freedom for security.

Posted by: M. Bulger at September 24, 2003 2:58 PM


The question rather is who should provide the level of economic security of which you speak. The Left believes it must be provided by a cetralized state which duns one group or another to provide it. Conservatives understand society (family, church, neighborhood, etc.) to be the superior provider. The former requires the sacriifice of freedom to authority; the latter doesn't.

If anything the US is more powerful militarily and economically than it has ever been. It was at leasat coinceivable in the past that Europe or South Asia or wherever might maintain economic growth even if the US was in recession, but as the mere slowdown of 2001-2001 showed, that is no longer the case. When we catch a cold the rest of the world comes down with pneumonia.

Fine. Polls mean nothing.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 3:20 PM

Mr. Bulger:

While I don't necessarily agree with your positions, you were certainly doing an excellent job of portraying them.

Until this:

"One should also note that the political and economic power of the U.S. has been in decline for 50 years and that this trend is if anything accelerating today, despite the preeminence of the American military."

You should make a distinction between relative and absolute. Our relative power has been in decline over the last fifty years. How could it not? The rest of the economically developed world was still in ashes following WWII.

In this "recession" we suffering unemployment rates that the Europeans would think were manna from heaven should they be subjected to them.

This could go on for paras ...

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 24, 2003 9:47 PM


What Jeff said. Try ten, twenty, seventy or eighty years and the picture will be different. Darn that European death wish!

Posted by: Peter B at September 24, 2003 10:06 PM