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THE COLUMN: To Save America, Repeal the 19th Amendment
Michael Walsh • 23 Jan, 2023 • 8 Min Read
Not a joke, folks.
With Jacinda Ardern's welcome exit from the ranks of world political leaders, leaving a shambles of constitutional freedom and human rights in her wake, now is perhaps an opportune time to reconsider the passage of the 19th amendment in American politics as part of our ongoing series of "To Save America" modest proposals advocating repeal of the most destructive tamperings with the original Constitution. We've already made the arguments for the repeal of the 16th, 17th, 18th (done!), and 26th amendments, so now it's time for the women's suffrage movement to take its turn in the barrel.
Start with this: there is no intrinsic, enumerated right to vote in the Constitution; eligibility was left up to each state. Voting therefore is neither a civil right nor a God-given natural right (as history clearly shows), but an earned privilege to be granted under certain circumstances or after an individual had satisfied various specified criteria such as attaining the age of his majority, being a male, a property owner, etc.
This was an outgrowth of the original conception of the United States as a voluntary alliance of hitherto sovereign states, each of which ceded some portion of its autonomy to the new federal government, but which reserved all other rights to itself. Indeed, the Tenth amendment makes this explicit: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In other words, the federal government did not create the states, they created the federal government.
In no previous historical iteration of either a Republic or a Democracy was universal suffrage allowed or even contemplated. The Greeks and the Romans had a quaint notion that only productive male citizens, especially those who put their lives, honor, and sacred fortunes on the line for their city, nation-state or empire (and who bought their own weapons and armor) could earn the right to vote. While this strikes us as both "sexist" and "racist" today, such considerations were unthought of; and while slaves could win the vote via manumission, women were never considered worthy of the vote. They were too emotional, too devious in their machinations, and certainly too weak to fight: in other words, too "unmanly," which is definitionally correct.
Besides, what Rome needed most from the time of the Punic Wars right up to the end was neither educated (although some were) nor liberated women, but mothers by whom the legions could be readily replenished, and wives who could patch up their warriors and send them back into battle. Thus, Rome could survive near-catastrophic defeats by Hannibal at Trebia, Lake Trasemine and Cannae and quickly bounce back by replacing the lost legions. A woman's job, therefore, was not to fight but to breed and nurture future citizens of the Republic; you could be a citizen without having a vote.
At Cannae, dead Romans everywhere.
One of the foundational myths of early Rome is the Abduction of the Sabine Women (often mistranslated as the Rape of the Sabines). The Romans under Romulus, new arrivals in Latium, found themselves severely lacking in women and sent embassies to the neighboring tribes requesting the right of intermarriage. This being roundly refused, the Roman invited the Sabines to a religious feast, whereupon they fell upon the Sabine women and carried them off while expelling the Sabine men. When, some time later, the Sabine men returned and attacked the Romans to get their women back—well, let Livy tell the tale:
Then it was that the Sabine women, whose wrongs had led to the war, throwing off all womanish fears in their distress, went boldly into the midst of the flying missiles with dishevelled hair and rent garments. Running across the space between the two armies they tried to stop any further fighting and calm the excited passions by appealing to their fathers in the one army and their husbands in the other not to bring upon themselves a curse by staining their hands with the blood of a father-in-law or a son-in-law, nor upon their posterity the taint of parricide.
It's all right there in Livy. And Giambologna.
`If,' they cried, ` you are weary of these ties of kindred, these marriage-bonds, then turn your anger upon us; it is we who are the cause of the war, it is we who have wounded and slain our husbands and fathers. Better for us to perish rather than live without one or the other of you, as widows or as orphans.' The armies and their leaders were alike moved by this appeal. There was a sudden hush and silence. Then the generals advanced to arrange the terms of a treaty. It was not only peace that was made, the two nations were united into one State, the royal power was shared between them, and the seat of government for both nations was Rome.
This may sound warm and fuzzy, but one of the lessons the Romans derived from this episode was the fickleness and malleability of women. Far from being happy that their former countrymen had come to rescue them from domestic slavery to the Romans (as males would be), the Sabine women were appalled at the slaughter and sought a compromise—which ended with the effective disappearance of the Sabines from history and ensured the survival of the Eternal City.
What has all this history got to do with women's suffrage or Jacinda Ardern? If you've read my book Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost, you will know that I believe the human animal doesn't change very much, and no amount of wish-casting can alter reality. To take Ardern as an example, her reaction to a single case of the imaginary disease known as "Covid-19" was quintessentially female and maternal: she immediately shut down her entire country, then instituted a breathtaking regime of ruthless totalitarianism involving lockdowns and forcible "vaccinations." (She had previously displayed these same panicky instincts in the wake of the 2019 mosque shootings, when she almost instantly imposed a draconian anti-gun policy nationwide.) In other words, she acted according to stereotype, her policies not the product of calm thinking and reasoned judgment but of inflamed emotions absent any rational thought. After which she walked away from the chaos complaining of burnout.
But as the western democracies matured, such elemental considerations came to seem outmoded, and so the push for women's suffrage began in earnest. In the U.S., women first got the vote at the state level, in frontier Wyoming, in 1869; by 1920, when the 19th amendment was ratified, they had the vote nationwide. A "long march" that began with the suffragette movement in the mid-19th century had come to fruition. But was it wise?
One signal that it might not be was its abandonment during the Civil War when, oddly enough, the country had more important things on its mind, such as the survival of the nation; clearly, women's suffrage was not deemed important enough, a luxury to be considered once the life of the nation was no longer on the line. Nor did it come up for a vote until after the First World War was over; and in neither case did anyone advocate for putting women in the fighting military in order to win the right to vote, especially women.
Any port in a storm.
Another is that its moment came practically simultaneously with the Four Progressive Amendments (income tax, direct election of senators, prohibition) and in fact there is considerable resemblance between the 18th and 19th in their back story. Both came about in a long-delayed backlash against the great wave of immigration, which was soon to be ended with the Immigration Act of 1924, that effectively shut it down until 1965. Prohibition, a midwestern Protestant idea pushed by women, was meant to target the men of suspect ethnic groups (Irish, Italians, Germans) whose fondness for grape, hops, and grain was legendary, as well as the merchant urban Jews who readily sold it to them. While the 18th amendment was simply punitive, the 19th was passive-aggressive: since the immigrants were largely single men, who quickly became voters, the WASP ascendency could avoid being out-voted, at least in the short term, but doubling its vote to include its wives.
(There is no comparison between the extension of the franchise to African-Americans via the the 15th amendment and women's suffrage. Once legal slavery was abolished there was no philosophical or historical reason not to allow black men to vote; many of them had, after all, fought heroically for their freedom in the Union Army. By contrast, there was no historical precedent for allowing women to vote.)
Further, many women themselves were against suffrage. They rejected the facile arguments offered by Jane Addams and others—"I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance"—by deciding they didn't want to give women the chance to make things even worse than they already were. There was even a National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.
Summing up the arguments against suffrance with barely disguised contempt, one Alison Lange, Ph.D., wrote:
Anti-suffragists argued that most women did not want the vote. Because they took care of the home and children, they said women did not have time to vote or stay updated on politics. Some argued women lacked the expertise or mental capacity to offer a useful opinion about political issues. Others asserted that women’s votes would simply double the electorate; voting would cost more without adding any new value.
That last argument has proven spectacularly wrong, but not in the way Lange clearly meant. The electorate has doubled but it has also become widely skewed, adding new value via the phenomenon known as the Single Woke Female—unmarried, exploited women of a certain age who fell for the siren song of "feminism" and the "sexual revolution" and are now approaching retirement from a pointless career who go home in the evening to their cats, bust out the ice cream and the white wine, and nurse their grudge against males for their barren, empty, childless lives. Foolishly seduced by Hugh Hefner's Playboy Philosophy into providing easy sexual access to their bodies in the name of "empowerment" and by the feminists who lied that they could "have it all," they now in their anger and resentment vote the straight Democrat ticket, looking to the federal government to be a surrogate lover, husband, and father. It's Obama's "Life of Julia" writ large.
Even some lefties laughed at the "Life of Julia" when it first appeared—they even "fact-checked" it—but who's laughing now? Government, most especially including the federal government, is now not only the employer of last resort for the otherwise unemployable, it's now the sugar daddy of first resort. And so the Left has hit another milestone in its goal of destabilizing the United States by using its weapons and its weaknesses ("tolerance," "compassion," purposeless egalitarianism) against it.
What even purported good has the destruction of the nuclear family accomplished? We're in the middle of a vicious, feninized cycle that includes an ineffective military, a police force that cuts and runs at the first encounter with a raging street madman after "negotiation" fails, and raging misandry from "fourth wave" feminists the ancients would have called by their real names: harpies.
Men, especially younger men, have not only dropped out of academe and the work force after realizing that the deck is stacked against them but are also withdrawing from society into a virtual mom's basement of video games, drugs, and porn, punctuated by occasional outbursts of random, horrific violence as the anomie becomes unendurable and rule by regiments of women becomes intolerable. History shows that disempowered, castrated men eventually take to the streets, and female cops shaped like Schmoos will be powerless to stop them.
From Romulus to the fall of Constantinople, Rome lasted 2,000 years without ever offering women the vote. How long will America last as it makes one last attempt to prove that history is, in fact, bunk? Men are Romans, women are Sabines. The only iron law of history is that imbalances will be corrected, sometimes violently. Based on current voting patterns, if women didn't vote, there would never be another Democrat president. Now, who wouldn't make that trade? Come on, ladies, do your duty to God and country, and give it up for America. Otherwise, a Jacinda Ardern looms in your future, too.
Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, was published by St. Martin's Press in December 2019. He is also the editor of Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, published on Oct. 18, 2022. Follow him on Twitter: @theAmanuensis