The rumor that Donald Trump has pegged Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who slit Gawker’s throat, for the Supreme Court has resulted in many news sites linking back to Thiel’s 2009 Cato Unbound article The Education of a Libertarian, with breathless accusations that Thiel advocates the repeal of women’s suffrage. The truth, as usual, is a lot more nuanced than that.
Thiel’s main commentary is that he now rejects the idea that ‘freedom and democracy are compatible’ and that any attempt to educate the ‘body politic has become a fool’s errand’. He points out the Great Depression is the last time a depression did not result in government intervention, and thus was ‘sharp but short, and entailed the sort of Schumpeterian “creative destruction” that could lead to a real boom.’
This is the point at which he mentions suffrage.
The decade that followed — the roaring 1920s — was so strong that historians have forgotten the depression that started it. The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
This is the point where many people stopped reading, apparently, because at no point does Thiel suggest women’s suffrage should be repealed. He is simply noting that the overwhelming majority of women voters tend to vote in favor of interventionist fiscal policies, thus preventing the kind of creative destruction the Great Depression prompted. When only men voted, they were content to let the market sort itself out, knowing that short-term pain would lead to long-term gain. Once women got the vote, they were wholly unwilling to let nature take its course, and have always voted for Big Daddy government to step in and offer guidance.
Isn’t it amusing how women voters consistently vote for patriarchy?
Thiel’s solution to the problem is not to repeal women’s right to vote. He proposes, instead, that libertarians find a way to move out of the realm of politics altogether, by colonizing spaces that are resistant to government intervention, and thus immune to politics. He identifies three avenues to achieve this goal of escaping beyond politics:
None of those include repeal women’s right to vote.
Personally, I think Thiel is wrong. I think repealing women’s suffrage is the correct response. Only those with skin in the game should have the right to determine the major players and moves. There is no way to exist ‘beyond politics’. That’s pleasant, but utopian thinking.
I have already argued that women should be allowed to earn the right to vote, either by joining the military or by being voted into leadership positions by male voters. I think I will now expand my exemptions to some other women with ‘skin in the game’.
Wives of men and mothers of sons.
Women who are legally married to a man, who by definition is subject to the draft, have skin the game. They have a right to make leadership decisions that could result in their husband’s death. Needless to say, the right to vote is surrendered upon divorce. It can only be regained by remarriage, to a man. The ages of the men involved don’t really matter. In the US, the draft currently sits at 18-25 years of age, but in war time, draft ages can and do change. Men up to the age of 45 were drafted in WWII, and all men up to age 65 had to register. Men in Ukraine are currently subject to the draft up to age 50. All societies will prefer to draft men of all ages before they will draft women.
The second group is mothers of sons. They, too, have skin in the game. Once a woman has given birth to a son, she earns the right to vote on the grounds that her son can be drafted and she has a right to participate in leadership decisions that could lead to his death. The only circumstance under which this right can be revoked is if she surrenders legal custody of the boy. His adoptive mother, if there is one, earns the vote.
Women who want to vote have four clear pathways:
- Enlist in the military
- Be elected to office
- Marry a man
- Be a mother to a son
The truly sobering thought is that even if women’s suffrage were repealed, I doubt many women would care, beyond the initial shock of ‘Muh rights! Muh rights!’ If the 19th were repealed, I sincerely doubt very many women would take any of the paths listed above for the purpose of gaining the right to vote. Women will do all of the above, but based on their personal feelings and preferences, and not because they are vitally, deeply, profoundly invested in the idea of suffrage.
Thiel is correct that allowing women to vote has rendered ‘capitalist democracy’ an oxymoron. Women don’t like bare-knuckled competition. They prefer the comforting, warm embrace of patriarchy in the form of Big Government to take care of their every need. Women love patriarchy.
So why not give it to them?
Lots of love,