GOP Outreach Efforts Proceed Apace

by John Holbo on February 17, 2013

A post by Michael Walsh, at the Corner, advocating repeal of the 19th Amendment:

And women’s suffrage … well, let’s just observe that without it Barack Obama could never have become president. Time for the ladies to take one for the team.

Who’s with me?

Not enough women, would be my back-of-the-envelope guesstimate.

Just so you know I can explain a joke as well as anyone: the form of this ‘repeal the 19th’ joke is that he knows it’s not acceptable to say so. So he says so, knowing people will realize he must be joking. But the thing is: he isn’t! On some level! Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny. But you could never get him to admit that. He’ll always have ‘it was a joke!’ deniability, due to the manifest unacceptability of his opinions. Even though it wouldn’t be a joke unless, on some level, it wasn’t a joke. That’s what makes it hilarious! Hide in plain sight! Anti-feminism ninja! I wonder why more women don’t vote GOP? They must not have a sense of humor. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Go team! Go team! Go team! (We are so clever. What? We lost again? Dumb broads, this is all their fault.)



Bloix 02.17.13 at 2:19 pm

Also, colored people.


a different chris 02.17.13 at 2:20 pm

Personally I think we need to take the 19th a step farther. Think of all the crap presidents/senators/congressmen we wouldn’t have had if only women were allowed to vote.


bh 02.17.13 at 2:27 pm

I love both kinds of conservative ‘jokes’ — insults and threats!

I really don’t get as worked up about this stuff as I used to, though. It’s every bit as bad as JH says, but it’s become clear to me that, when it’s exposed to a wider audience, mainstream 2013 America finds it just as repulsive as I do.


bob 02.17.13 at 3:09 pm

@2: unfortunately, women can be just as bad as men. E.g. Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, or to use a very provincial example, Mayor Jane Byrne of Chicago.


David Kaib 02.17.13 at 3:27 pm

The only response to these sorts of things (and the policies that flow from them – all the electoral barriers) is to forcefully advocate universal suffrage for all citizens over the age of 18 (at least) and place all the burden of the electoral process on the government (like registration). ‘We like the current level of disenfranchisement’ is not a very solid position, but unfortunately it is, implicitly, the position of the bulk of the Democratic Party.


R. Porrofatto 02.17.13 at 3:30 pm

A majority of Americans … well, let’s just observe that without it Barack Obama could never have become president. Time for the majority of Americans to take one for the team.

(We can only wonder which “team” Walsh had in mind.)


David 02.17.13 at 3:56 pm

As of late, we seem to be living in the magical world I always dreamed of where the Republican’s manifest stupidity prevented them from significant attainment of political power.


Jim Nichols 02.17.13 at 4:10 pm

In Georgia a bill has been introduced by GOP in the state legislature to repeal the 17th Amendment to end direct election of U.S. Senate.


BillCinSD 02.17.13 at 5:10 pm

Well, he’s got Ann Coulter with him (from Wikiquote)

“I think [women] should be armed but should not vote … women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it … it’s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.”

Remarks on Politically Incorrect (26 February 2001)


Matt Stevens 02.17.13 at 5:35 pm

In fairness, I remember the late Manning Marable telling me that if only African-Americans were allowed to vote we’d have social-democracy by now. He added he would oppose that anyway, of course.

The difference is he said that in private conversation, while this idiot is broadcasting his musings to the whole planet.


Navin Kumar 02.17.13 at 5:51 pm

Good to know we aren’t confirming that stereotype about feminists not having a sense of humour.


Paul 02.17.13 at 5:57 pm

Pretty sure “Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, [and] Mayor Jane Byrne of Chicago” weren’t elected solely by women. I don’t think it follows that a female-only electorate would vote for women as rigidly as men vote for men, at least in the US.

If the argument is that mean-spiritedness and crackpottery are not exclusive to men or male pols, I agree.


Glen Tomkins 02.17.13 at 7:14 pm

Of course this is meant seriously. If you simultaneously believe that: 1) democracy is the right system of govt, and that 2) rightness in a system of govt is gauged by elections producing the right results, and 3) democracy in the US has systematically failed to produce the right results lately, then you have to conclude that there’s something systematically wrong with how we do democracy. Letting people with a proven track record of voting the wrong way continue to vote, is one very reasonable candidate for the identity of that systemic failure. Henry’s recent post,, speaks of limitation of the franchise as a reasonable idea, even if not one he necessarily endorses.

Of course, direct and overt limitation of the franchise would seem to go against the conventional wisdom of the moment, and be seen by the broad middle portion of the electorate as unacceptable. Therefore you would think we wouldn’t have to worry about the specific idea of disenfranchising women, or disenfranchising by wealth or national origin, as real threats, becoming part of the program of the Rs, at least not if the Rs want to avoid being voted out of office.

But there is this special feature of disenfranchisement, that if the Rs do go ahead with it, they won’t have to face the disenfranchised demographic at the next election. Any other action you take in the politics of a representative democracy, and you have to worry that the people whose ox it gores will vote against you next election — but not disenfranchisement.

In the US, they have the opportunity to divide and conquer, because we still set voting qualifications at the state level. Any number of states right now — FL, VA, PA, MI, WI, OH — have R control at the state level, yet pretty consistently vote D in presidential elections. Those R legislators and governors could arrange to never have to face a full, D-friendly, electorate in their states, ever again, simply by disenfranchising enough D-friendly demographics. If enough of these states do this, they never have to wory about losing control at the federal level either.

Sure, maybe disenfranchising women is a bridge too far. They have to choose demographics that, at least after their propaganda machine is finished with them, will be accepted by the middling set of voters still left with the franchise, as somehow not worthy of the franchise, or at least less worthy than the wise and sober people left with the right to vote. But that just encourages them to be bold and think big, so as to end up with electorates so edited that the middling set in the new electorate is well to the right of where it is now. And they have to act in enough states that the states with unedited electorates won’t kill them at the federal level. If women are a bridge too far, if they can’t get away with getting rid of them, the only demographic left big enough to do the job would be defined by low income.

If they’re going to set out to disenfranchise, they need to go big or go home. That’s a comforting thought if you think they won’t or can’t go big, but otherwise, fasten your seat belts, because they have to make their move before the demographic tide rolls in any further.


Nick 02.17.13 at 7:44 pm

This isn’t even the first time NRO has gone there:


Purple Platypus 02.17.13 at 8:08 pm

It’s nitpicky but “a bridge too far” refers to mistakenly going after something other than the intended target, not to overreaching oneself.


Glen Tomkins 02.17.13 at 8:27 pm

Well, I first heard the expression in terms of Operation Market Garden having tried for one bridge further than ther Allies could actually manage, and didn’t realize the expression predated that use.


Mike 02.17.13 at 8:32 pm

Even though it wouldn’t be a joke unless, on some level, it wasn’t a joke.

I’m not sure you understand anything about jokes.


David Kaib 02.17.13 at 9:57 pm

Many people confuse them not being funny with their audience not having a sense of humor. But I’m guessing if anyone were to suggest that men not be allowed to vote, non-feminists would find that not funny.


Dan Nexon 02.17.13 at 11:34 pm

16 comments in and no one has pointed out the fundamental error: repealing the 15th or 13th amendment would have prevent Obambi (or whatever the “clever” derision of the day is) from winning the Presidency.


Salient 02.18.13 at 1:33 am

The post is exactly equivalent to yelling “Hey fatsoes!” at a group of people, then saying, “what, what’s your problem? I was just kidding around. Jeez, get a sense of humor.”

It’s only ‘funny’ insofar as it unsettles people or riles them up. The fun comes from hurting the feelings of some people you don’t like, provoking a response from them that contains genuine emotional content, and then mocking them for getting their own damn feelings hurt. What’s their problem? Can’t they see you were just joking around? Obviously you weren’t being genuine, so why are they?

The pathological joy of petty tyranny.


MattF 02.18.13 at 4:38 pm

What’s the point of letting women vote if they keep voting for the wrong people?


BobbyV 02.18.13 at 10:39 pm

Low GOP support by women? Let me guess. Could it be all those conservative politicians believing that a woman’s mind is her second favorite organ?


lumpkin 02.19.13 at 1:38 am

To Mike at 17:

Yes he does and no you don’t.


Bloix 02.19.13 at 1:49 am

Dan Nexon – see comment No. 1.


sm 02.19.13 at 1:58 am

It’s like WF Buckley’s “joke” that the problem with Mississippi was not too few black people voting, but too many white people voting.


j_30 02.19.13 at 1:59 am

When Bobby Jindal called on Repubs to stop being the “stupid party” you have to wonder who he was appealing to. There’s a deep-dyed strain of ignorance in Republican culture that isn’t going to change any time soon. You only have to take a gander at the comment threads on red site posts connected with abortion or check out right-wing rant radio on topics that touch on women’s issues.

Walsh’s proposal on the repeal of the 19th Amendment generated a few comments that would suggest no lack sympathy…

“Sounds good.”

“Notice how the liberal assumes that just because something is “modern” that it must therefore be good.”

“You’re right. Up until they got the vote, our women were blameless.”


Bryan 02.19.13 at 2:53 am

“Even though it wouldn’t be a joke unless, on some level, it wasn’t a joke.”

You know when I said rectum, it damn near killed ’em, it was funny because he was in agonizing pain and had to go through a series of surgeries. Also, his ass was involved.


Dan Nexon 02.19.13 at 3:31 am

Bloix – like the Corner, you’re obviously too subtle for me ;-)


Hipple, Rev Paul T 02.19.13 at 11:48 am

I’ve been advocating this for a long, long time and am pleased to see the idea is finally getting some traction amongst my Conservative Christian colleagues.

Also the 13th Amendment, which the framers never intended neither.
Award Winning InterBlogger
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j_30 02.20.13 at 10:37 pm

Moving “You’re right. Up until they got the vote, our women were blameless” to the taking-the-piss column… replaced with:

“I don’t know what Walsh thinks, but I certainly believe that women shouldn’t be able to vote. They have observably made their lives worse, and thrown away their actual rights (and everyone else’s), in favor of their “right” (actually just a privilege) to vote.”

Joking aside – an opening is all some people need.


John David Galt 02.22.13 at 5:50 am

A good case can be made that women voters *are* responsible for the unprecedented nanny-statism of the last century — and that at least part of the blame is direct (there was a huge overlap between the Suffragettes and the alcohol-prohibition movement).

It would likely be even more productive for freedom, though, if we could take the vote away from people who can be talked into nanny-statist policies by sound bites on TV, as a category. Or simply educate or persuade everyone, including women, not to fall into that category. The problem seems to be that those who are already in it won’t listen to reason and nobody can make them.

Ultimately, we may need to abandon the notion of democracy as leading to incentive traps that destroy freedom. After all, democracy is not a valid moral principle anyway; its value is that it fosters freedom (and ends when it ceases doing so).

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