The pursuit of the norm

Republicans explain to non-Republican women how they are wrong to be non-Republican women. The tl;dr is that all such women are 35 and single and therefore in a deep funk of self-loathing because they know they should be married; if they were Republicans they would be married. It’s hard to see a flaw, isn’t it.

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things (a journal that promotes “economic freedom” and a “morally serious culture”), published a very helpful essay illustrating how this fresh new strategy might work in practice. Reno begins his piece with a richly-drawn portrait of a hypothetical female Democratic voter: She is a “single, 35-year-old McKinsey consultant living in suburban Chicago who thinks of herself as vulnerable and votes for enhanced social programs designed to protect against the dangers and uncertainties of life.”

(Reno does not specify the number of cats she owns, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume the answer is “several.”) Reno speculates that this woman (whom he has invented and preprogrammed with opinions) feels “judged” by a Republican platform that opposes gay marriage, because “she intuitively senses that being pro-traditional marriage involves asserting male-female marriage as the norm—and therefore that her life isn’t on the right path.” So she votes for the Democrat, who does not appear to be “intolerant” of her lifestyle.

Mistake mistake mistake! She should totally be voting for the Republican, because then she would be the kind of person who pursues the norm, which (as we have just been told) is male-female marriage (never female-male marriage of course). Pursuit of the norm=capture of the norm provided you’re a Republican, because nobody is a Republican who doesn’t do whatever is the norm.

This woman is suffering from “various kinds of personal unhappiness related to the lack of clear norms for how to live,” Reno writes. She secretly “wants to get married and feels vulnerable because she isn’t and vulnerable because she’s not confident she can.” And so, actually, she should support the party that wants to force people into traditional marriages, thus improving her chances of getting married herself. (Perhaps she can marry a gay man?) If only our hypothetical cat lady could get on board, she would get a husband, the Republicans would get another married woman to add to their key demographic, and gay people would get totally screwed. (Yay?)

The cats of course would be turned into cat soup.


  1. iknklast says

    So if I’m a 53-year old white female, married with a child, one dog and no cats, does that mean I’m required to be registered Republican? Crap! No one sent me the memo!

    It’s easier to draw a demographic of the non-Republican female this way: She may be any age, any marital status, housewife or working outside the home, with cats/dogs/kids in any combination or none; she has the strange idea that she does not wish to be property, but instead a person with ideas and thoughts of her own who makes her own decisions.

  2. says

    @ G Pierce

    Not surprising at all. Since they are incapable of giving a shit about anyone else, they assume that nobody does. They are incapable of understanding that world view. “I got mine, sucks to be you” is about as deep as their philosophy goes.

  3. Chaos-Engineer says

    This is really quite an amazing bit of work.

    Here’s another passage from the original paper:

    The LGBTQ project is a good example of this. Nine times out of ten, a “transgendered” individual would be far happier if he or she were simply told, with effective authority—you’re a boy or girl.

    Usually when a political party wants to broaden its base, it will identify new potential voters and either (1) change the platform to appeal to those voters, or (2) send targeted messages to those voters that emphasize the parts of the platform they’ll like, while downplaying the parts they won’t like.

    The strategy here seems to be to go to the potential voters and say (with effective authority) “You think that our platform is just fine the way it is”, and then watch the votes pour in.

    I love that they had to set up a whole “LGBTQ Project” just to come up with this idea. That was clearly time and money well-spent.

  4. Ed says

    It’s funny when people accuse others of trying to be protected from danger and risk as if that was by definition wrong. Then the same people usually want “protection” from things that aren’t even a threat to anyone like gayness, blasphemy, non-“traditional” sex roles or whatever. Meanwhile, people who want protection from actual, concrete dangers like rape or starvation are supposed to be cowards.

    Even if the “I don’t need no protection” crowd was logically consistent, it would still be a silly position. Yes, one can be too afraid of risk, but demanding a fairly high level of safety and regard for basic human wellbeing is reasonable. People who need constant competition and danger can spend all their free time on “extreme” sports and other voluntary risks. But I’ll bet most of them don’t.

  5. wannabe says

    G Pierce (Was ~G~) wrote:

    Funny how they seem incapable of imagining that woman may support these various causes because she gives a shit about other people.

    The article fails to state what is implicit in U.S. conservative philosophy: Caring about other people actually hurts them.

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