How the Women’s Vote Led to Big Government

From The Thinking Housewife:

How the Women’s Vote Led to Big Government


FROM a fascinating working paper written in 1999 by John R. Lott, Jr. and Larry Kenny of the University of Chicago Law School, who examined in detail the effects of women’s suffrage:

Giving women the right to vote dramatically changed American politics from the very beginning. Despite claims to the contrary, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s. Suffrage coincided with immediate dramatic increases in state government expenditures and revenue, and these effects continued growing as more women took advantage of franchise. Similar changes occurred at the federal level as female suffrage led to more liberal voting records for the state’s two Congressinal delegations. In the Senate, suffrage changed voting behavior by an amount equal to almost 20 percent of the difference between Republican and Democrat senators. Suffrage also coincided with changes in the probability that prohibition would be enacted and changes in divorce laws. We were also able to deal with questions of causality by taking advantage of the fact that while some states voluntarily adopted suffrage others where compelled to do so by the 19th Amendment. The conclusion was that suffrage dramatically changed government in both cases. Accordingly, the effects of suffrage we estimate are not reflecting some other factor present in only states that adopted suffrage.

Not all women immediately took advantage of the right to vote. About half of the ultimate percent of women who eventually voted in elections appeared to have started voting immediately after suffrage was granted and most of those women were in the 45 to 64 year old age group.

More work remains to be done on why women vote so differently, but our initial work provides scant evidence that it is due to self-interest arising from their employment by government. The only evidence that we found indicated that the gender gap in part arises from women’s fear that they are being left to raise children ontheir own. If this result is true, the continued breakdown of the family and higher divorce rates implies growing political conflicts between the sexes. The data also show that marriage does not eliminate all the difference between men and women.

Interestingly, we also find that both women and men care a lot more whether the Democrat is a woman or a man than they care about the sex of the Republican candidate. Women flock to a female Democrat as quickly as men desert them. Future work should examine whether in fact a candidate’s sex appears to primarily predict the voting behavior of Democrat candidates.

Claims that the gender gap has arisen as men have left the Democrat party and that the “modern” gender gap has only arisen since the 1970’s can now be put in a different perspective (Stark, 1996, p. 78). Combining these claims with our work implies that the gender gap disappeared during the 1960’s and 1970’s as men moved towards women, but that it reappeared again when men moved back to their original position relative to women. Indeed, the 1960’s and 1970’s witnessed one of the largest fundamental increases in government both in terms of entitlements and regulations. Obviously, our work suggests also additional tests that can be done with cross-country data, but we believe that the data put together for the current paper still presents a comprehensive start to this question.

— Comments —

Neil writes:

I seem to recall reading that the Catholic Church fought giving women the “right” to vote in Quebec until the ’40s.  But now everything has changed.  When California had a ballot referendum to end affirmative action, Cardinal Mahoney opposed it because, in part, it would deny women their opportunity to advance in the work place.  Wonder why Mahoney thought children would be better off at secular day care with mommy at work having her self-esteem increased.

I think liberalism is a nightmare from which we are all trying to awake.  But I think it’s going to be a long sleep.

The Collapse of Authority

Over at The Thinking Housewife,

TEXANNE writes:

As Mrs. H. points out in your recent post:  ”Students have no respect for teachers; teachers have no authority over students, and in fact fear them. “

The same can be said for the feminist dad in your recent post.  He seems to believe that it is somehow manly to allow his child to make the decisions, while his role is simply to support her choices — with force if necessary.

The tragic fact of “feminist fathers” (and teachers as buddies) is that so many of them were raised by fathers who themselves had lost moral authority in their own families — having lost connection with their only source of authority, namely The Father.  It is likely that their parents were loving and dutiful and generous, and as children they were raised “correctly”, according to cultural expectations and with a certain degree of respect for parental authority and elders in general.

However, so many fathers (and mothers, too) had been relying on cultural norms of order in the family and the community, and had essentially forgotten how that order came about in the first place.  Thus they were ignorant about what was necessary to maintain it.  Perhaps they had come to believe that mere bonds of affection hold happy, successful families and generations together.  They had completely forgotten where the expectation of honoring father and mother comes from — that it is part of the larger scheme of authority which imposes on the parents a duty of love and obedience to God, that would make them worthy of the honor that their children would then owe to them.

When the adolescent Boomers rose up and questioned authority, their  parents and teachers (those of the “greatest generation”) in positions of authority, had no answer.  All the grown-ups could fall back on was their inherited  power (“because I said so!”) or appeals to tradition (“It’s always been this way!”), neither of which could withstand the challenge:  ”Says who?!”  At that point  the older generation came to recognize that they would have to position themselves “on the right side of history” — so as at least to try to hold on to their children’s affection, if nothing else.

So who has any moral authority today?  Not parents. Parents worry about their children and help them.  They do not lead them — or they train and point them towards some abstract “success”.  Adults use children (as accessories and as human shields) and woo them, and teach them that autonomy and power are the keys to happiness and recognition.

As Mrs. H. points out, teachers and professors have no authority.  Just like the parents, their ability to hold the class together rests tenuously on the consent and affection of the students.  After all, the curriculum reflects and reinforces the culture:  Equality and autonomy are both the medium and message in the relentless pursuit of utopian democracy.

So it goes with all in whom authority at one time resided.  Politicians and entertainers gain power through seduction, the government, through seduction and force.  The so-called Rule of Law?  As Justice Scalia has noted, this authority has been eaten by the idle musings of Justice Kennedy in the infamous “sweet-mystery-of-life” passage — dicta which now serves as basis for arguments before the highest court in the land:

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” (Planned Parenthood v. Casey)

And with that, Justice Kennedy rendered himself and his court meaningless. If each man has (or IS) his own god — then who is Justice Kennedy to judge?  We are now living in the moral vacuum where ideology and sentimentality rush in — the consequences of which Dostoevsky was urging us to see:

“If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”