October 27 2010

Why the Wooing Won't Work

Hadley Heath

Ladies, the President wants you to vote for his party.

Much has been made of the "Gender Gap" in voting.  Women have a reputation for favoring big government more than men do, and traditionally they've voted that way.  Women disproportionately vote for Democrats and men for Republicans.  Furthermore, the Gender Gap has traditionally been more pronounced with single women than with married women.  In the 2008 presidential elections, 70% of single women voted for Obama, compared to 52% of married women with children.

I used to think that as my friends got older and got married they would drift to the right because their fears about who would care for them would diminish.   But it's wrong to assume that a fear of independence from government support is the only force driving young, single women's liberalism. Other factors contribute, like the view of a big government as a compassionate government, or the view that a big government can do away with sexism and finally make women and men more interchangeable.

Well, women and men will never be the same, but in this midterm election cycle, we will see great overlap in the issues both sexes consider most important.  Women are working and providing for themselves more than ever before. They are in the work force as breadwinners.  They rely on a stable economy as much as men do.  They own and operate businesses, and they want to expand and create new jobs.  They realize that decisions about government programs in health care and entitlements affect them, not just as citizens and consumers, but also as taxpayers.  The Gender Gap is closing, not because more women are getting married, but because more women of all ages realize that the free market better addresses the economic problems the U.S. faces today.

Does this mean that women who vote with a small government in mind have become less compassionate?  No, support of the free market system and compassion for fellow man are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, women might realize now more than ever before that mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and members of civil society will always give more and better care to those in need than the government can.  And compassion in the free market doesn't end with charitable giving or family relationships.  The free market, unlike a big government system of wealth redistribution, starts with an assumption of ability and dignity for each person.  The free market creates opportunities for women to achieve and provide for themselves.

It's obvious that the White House has taken note of changes in the way women think.  Why else would the President and the First Lady be campaigning so hard for the "female vote"?  But I'm afraid the wooing won't work this time.  Women going to the polls are likely to be just as fed-up as men are with the job-killing, market-stalling policies they've seen implemented during the past two years.  Single or married, women want what's best for our country, and that means getting government out of the way. 

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