I’m A Woman, I’m Not A Democrat…And I Can Explain.
Braveheart was onto something: it all boils down to Freedom.
Of all the things that women don’t want to believe about ourselves, it is the worst of the feminine stereotypes: that we are cliquey, judgmental, gossipy, and cruel to one another. Women embrace and boldly espouse statements of sisterhood — “I’m a woman who supports other women!” “I believe in empowering women instead of tearing them down!” It should be inspiring — but I call bullshit.
Nothing exposes these comfortable lies we tell ourselves more than when voting season rolls around. Come early November, we take up sides on harshly drawn battle lines. On one side are the loud and proud pussy hat wearers: the women who can boldly claim to stand on the morally righteous high ground of liberalism. “I am empathetic! I am egalitarian! I am nurturing, open-minded, and unselfish!” They claim their political views and the votes they cast as badges of honor. If you don’t agree with them, they are better than you are.
Women embrace and boldly espouse statements of sisterhood — “I’m a woman who supports other women!” “I believe in empowering women instead of tearing them down!” It should be inspiring — but I call bullshit.
I can’t speak for the women on the other side of the battle line. I am one of them, but we are all shrouded in silence and afraid to “come out of the closet.” The women who don’t stand with the crowd all have their personal reasons for doing so, and I can’t generalize or explain why. All I can do is tell you why I don’t stand with the crowd.
It’s not that the crowd is wrong. I don’t have a personal beef with pussy hat wearers. In fact, I’m fiercely protective of the freedoms that allow Americans to wear whatever hats they want — literal or metaphorical. Wear pussy hats all day. March on Washington. Speak your mind. Do your thing. DO YOU.
I don’t have a personal beef with pussy hat wearers. In fact, I’m fiercely protective of the freedoms that allow Americans to wear whatever hats they want — literal or metaphorical.
The problem — the thing that I can’t reconcile, and the reason I don’t vote with the pussy hat wearers — is because the liberal agenda that they support is actually in favor of LESS freedom. LESS speaking your mind. The liberal agenda staunchly supports some views, but absolutely shuns others — and seeks to legislate these things into permanence. It’s not that I disagree with many of the things that they want to see happen; it’s that I disagree with the way they want to see these things come to pass.
The problem — the thing that I can’t reconcile, and the reason I don’t vote with the pussy hat wearers — is because the liberal agenda that they support is actually in favor of LESS freedom. LESS speaking your mind. The liberal agenda staunchly supports some views, but absolutely shuns others — and seeks to legislate these things into permanence.
Let me explain.
I’ll use a metaphor common to many women: parenting. Don’t talk to me about how this is a sexist or uninclusive illustration; that’s as patently absurd as arguing that human beings don’t spend 40 weeks germinating in a uterus. It’s a fact.
So, the parenting metaphor. We all want to see our children grow up and do well in the world. We try to impart to them the skills that they will need to become successful adults. Correct?
Every human infant is born helpless and utterly incapable of taking care of itself. Also correct?
We all begin by meeting the infant’s needs. Feed it, clean its bottom, keep it warm, keep it safe. Easy-ish work, depending on which infant we’re talking about.
It gets more complicated as the infant grows into a child. Now it must be civilized and taught the ways of the human world. In many ways, each family becomes a political microcosm at this time. Each parent, or parental unit, or person tasked with raising a child, moves into a leadership position. Now it is time to determine how they will lead.
Imagine first the parental embodiment of the liberal agenda. This parent would say, “I want you to be fully empowered to be yourself, my child. You own your body — pot is legal and abortions are easily come by, so that eases some stress. Go to work and earn money. Give me a healthy portion of that money, though. Better for me to determine how it best be spent. You were born so little and helpless; as an adult, I am privileged, so better I decide what is best for you and handle everything. You never have to take responsibility for your own life; you can just live with me indefinitely. You never have to leave home if you don’t want to, because the option of an all-expenses paid life is always here. You also don’t really have to take any responsibility for the running of the household. You paid me part of your income; I’ll make sure that everything is handled in a fair and just way from here on out. Just trust me to handle it.”
It’s absurd. It’s absurd to write the whole thing. I don’t know a single mentally and emotionally mature and healthy person — regardless of their political agenda — who parents like this.
How many of us sound more like the following?
“I want you to be fully empowered, little one. I want to give you the freedom to make choices so that you can learn how to accept responsibility for negative outcomes, while self-motivating to seek positive outcomes. That is called accountability, and it is the most critical aspect of self-regulation in a free society. I expect and trust you to exercise good judgement while exercising your freedom. Freedom does not absolve you from responsibility for your community; freedom is a responsibility. Freedom means that it falls upon your shoulders to make the world a better place. Choose how you spend your time, energy, and money, and learn to embrace service in all forms. Serving other human beings, animals, the environment, your community, and the world are all fundamental human responsibilities. Work and take home your hard-earned pay, but don’t spend it frivolously. Save some, enjoy some, and give charitably to support efforts that you believe in. I’m not going to tell you what to do or how to live your life; though I am here to support you, I want you to learn that for yourself through thoughtful trial and error.”
Think about the ethics your child is learning at school. What kids are taught on Sesame Street. Be decent, be good, help someone in need. Make good choices. Self-regulate. We already teach our kids to think like Libertarians. It’s not that much of a stretch.
I’m not a conservative. Because our political system seems to relegate us to wholesale identification with one group or another, I suppose that I’m a Libertarian; the graphic above is the most accurate characterization of my political beliefs that I’ve ever found. It’s truly that simple: own your body, own your labor. That’s freedom. I vote for maximum freedom — in this day and age, that means reluctantly voting Republican because a Libertarian vote is basically a thrown away opportunity to defeat the liberal agenda — which I REALLY don’t want.
What I wish other women would understand and accept is that my votes in support of freedom are not votes against empathy. Freedom doesn’t come unchecked! Freedom, responsibility, and accountability go hand in hand. People who know me intimately know that I put my money where my mouth is in this regard, and I am proud to serve alongside a massive cohort of like-minded individuals supporting organizations and causes that I believe in. Fascinatingly, within this tribe of like-minded service-oriented individuals, I see a far deeper common thread of Libertarianism than anything else. In my experience, it’s the most commonly held political mindset of people who actively choose a life of service (at the cost of personal sacrifice — politicians don’t count, because their work feeds both their egos and bank accounts). Again, just a commonly held love of freedom, and belief in human decency and accountability.
Libertarians aren’t people who voted for Trump and then retreated to ivory towers to count our money like Scrooge McDuck. We are Americans out there sweating, bleeding, and volunteering all manner of personal, financial, and physical resources to support, develop, and improve our own communities and the causes that we believe in. My plea to the pussy hat wearers is to recognize that human beings are far more decent and good than the polarized political landscape would have one believe. I’m tired of being called a hypocrite, or accused of lacking empathy by women who claim to defy traditional gender roles (you hold me accountable for being empathetic…because I’m a woman?). There are millions of American women like me on the other side of the fence who vote in favor of freedom because we believe, above all, in accountability and personal responsibility. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s time to share some mutual respect.