Elizabeth Warren had a rally last night. I’ll wait for you to finish your angry letters to the broadcast networks for not carrying it live.
Okay, so. Politico reports:
Before the senator’s speech, several women spoke and appeared onstage, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Angela Peoples of the political group Black Womxn For, which recently endorsed the Massachusetts senator. “She knows we live in nuance and intersectionality,” Pressley said of Warren.
Just to be clear, that’s not a typo. The group really is called Black Womxn For. Though a more honest name would be Black Womxn For Sentence Fragments. I feel like there’s a great Abbot and Costello bit lurking just beyond my fingertips:
“Black Women For what?”
“Black Womxn For”
Also, does anybody know how to pronounce Womxn? Woah-mixñ?
Black Womxn For is For Warren and Warren is for Black Womxn. Read their endorsement. There is much muchness there. It begins:
The last presidential election laid bare what many Black women, gender non-conforming, and non-binary, and queer folk know deeply; that this nation embraces white supremacy and its evils, even at the expense of itself.
As Grizzly Adams said to his Indian friend, “Bear with me.”
I don’t know if there’s any polling data on this. But I am fairly confident that most black women don’t have much use for the term womxn. I would very much like to see a Jay Leno style “Jaywalking” series of interviews of random black women in South Carolina asking them what they think of the term.
There is polling data, however, of American Hispanics on the far more popular term Latinx. Earlier this month, a firm surveyed Hispanics and found that:
When it came to “Latinx,” there was near unanimity. Despite its usage by academics and cultural influencers, 98% of Latinos prefer other terms to describe their ethnicity. Only 2% of our respondents said the label accurately describes them, making it the least popular ethnic label among Latinos.
The most devastating finding—from the woke perspective—is that these findings basically held constant regardless of age. Three percent of Hispanics under the age of 35 preferred Latinx. This means that Donald Trump will get vastly more votes from Latinx people than the share of Latinx people who think Latinx is a thing. Awkward.
This points to a huge problem for Warren and the various elites invested in her. They’re in a bubble. If you’re surrounded by Latinx and Womxn people who unironically use terms like Latinx or Womxn, you might get convinced that this is the way normal Hispanic and black people talk and think. I’m not saying that blacks and Hispanics are politically conservative. We know that, as a conventional or statistical matter, most aren’t. But their liberalism is the traditional liberalism of the Democratic Party circa 1985 or 2005: More generous entitlements, more public works programs, perhaps more set-asides for minorities in government contracts. In other words they’re FDR, Truman, Mondale, or Obama Democrats. Some may even be Jesse Jackson Democrats. They’re not Noam Chomsky Democrats.
If Warren thinks she’s going to win over black women in South Carolina by talking about intersectionality, she’s in for a rude surprise.
Abortion and the State
Let’s stay on Warren. In her ode to abortion rights during Wednesday night’s debate, Warren said:
And I know it can be a hard decision for people. But here's the thing. When it comes down to that decision, a woman should be able to call on her mother, she should be able to call on her partner, she should be able to call on her priest or her rabbi. But the one entity that should not be in the middle of that decision is the government.
First of all, for a person comfortable with intersectionality, she shockingly didn’t mention the new catechism that men can get pregnant, too:
Maybe the fact that she didn’t say the decision is between a (pregnant) man and his doctor is a small indicator that she understands that the activists she surrounds herself with aren’t the electoral boon she pretends they are. Or maybe she just made a mistake. Either way, you do have to wonder why Black Womxn For didn’t denounce her disturbingly gendered language.
My own views on abortion are complicated. I do not come to the issue through religious conviction, but through political philosophy. I want a very limited government. But there are some questions that do have to be left to the state. Going back to the very first states at the dawn of the agricultural revolution, the first obligation of the state is to protect citizens from violence, from without and from within. This obligation creates a second obligation: determining who counts as a citizen or, more simply, a human being. After all, non-citizens have a right in our system not to be murdered, too. Slavery became a federal issue precisely because it was untenable to have different definitions of who counts as a human being in different parts of the country.
For this reason, I want as maximal a definition of humanity as reason and morality can possibly allow. The premise behind abortion extremism is that fetuses do not become fully realized human beings until they emerge from the birth canal. I think that’s grotesque.
I am fully willing to acknowledge that my horror at this proposition is far greater with regard to late-term abortions for the simple reason that the obviousness of the moral and scientific error is so much more indisputable. Regardless of my personal views, I think reasonable people can disagree about the moral or legal status of a just-fertilized egg. I don’t think it’s remotely reasonable to suggest that a baby seconds away from delivery isn’t a person deserving of the protections of the state. And any suggestion that an actually delivered baby isn’t a person is morally and scientifically disqualifying abomination.
A viable baby isn’t Schrodinger’s cat or a tree falling in the forest no one can hear. It’s a flesh-and-blood human regardless of the attitude of the mother. If I were to kill a pregnant endangered elephant moments before it gave birth, I very much doubt abortion maximalists would criticize me for killing just one elephant.
Warren’s position on abortion hinges on the idea that it’s not a baby until the mother decides it is. There’s an ironic illogical consistency here insofar as she also holds the view that the mother is a mother (instead of a father) only if she decides she’s a woman.
But let’s retreat from metaphysics and get back to political theory and practice. She says “the one entity that should not be in the middle of that decision [to abort a child] is the government.”
This sounds like a libertarian position—at least for that branch of libertarianism that sees the fetus as outside the rights regime most libertarians champion. But here’s the thing: She’s not a libertarian. No, it’s true. You can look it up.
She says she doesn’t want the government to get in the middle of a woman’s decision-making process. But she also says the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff should all work for the government. As Montesquieu might say, “Huh?”
Socialism Makes Everything the Government’s Business
If I were an unalloyed champion of abortion rights, the last thing in the world I would want is socialized medicine. Every day, all around the world, socialized health care systems deny people medical procedures based on cost-benefit calculations. If the state can deny someone a hip replacement or a gastric bypass, by what principle can it not also deny an abortion? Particularly if the pro-abortion arguments are to be taken at face value: It’s just another medical procedure!
You want to take a giant leap forward to Michael Pence’s alleged dream of a Handmaid’s Tale? Make all the OBGYNs government employees.
I honestly don’t understand how so many progressives don’t understand that once you give the government the power to do X, you also give it the power to do not-X. Do I think the evil Pale Penis People of White Supremacy or Theocracy are just waiting around the corner to turn women into breeders? No. But if you think that, why in the world do you want to make it easier for them to use government power to achieve their ends?
Taxpayers have a right to determine where their tax dollars are spent. This is true as a matter of both political theory and practical politics. When the government pays for all the doctors and all of their equipment, as Warren, Sanders and countless others would have it, you are putting the government smack dab in the middle of that decision.
Moreover, if you think our politics are ugly now, just wait until every single American’s tax dollars are spent on medical procedures they are morally opposed to—not just abortions, but gender reassignment surgeries for children or lord knows what else. Even if you are an abortion agnostic or simply a typical American who is okay with first-trimester abortions and horrified by third-trimester ones, socializing medicine turns countless “none of your business” issues into everyone’s business. I think gender reassignment surgeries for healthy children are horrific. But in our current system, there’s little I can do about it. If you’re going to start taking my tax dollars for it, that changes.
Imagine that it were scientifically possible to invent a pill to eradicate homosexuality in the womb. Under socialized medicine, every politician has more of a say about whether such pills would be mandatory or outlawed. We’d still have such debates in a free-market health care system or under the mess of a system we have now. But the more government has direct control over our health care, the easier it becomes for politicians to make that decision for us.
Again, I don’t understand why any of this is so hard to understand. The more power you give government to control, direct, or circumscribe peoples’ lives, the more you make politics zero-sum. The smaller and more limited government is, the more room there is to pursue happiness as you define it. It’s not a perfect system, as all the post-liberal statists of the left and right keep telling us. But it’s better than all the alternatives.
Various & Sundry
Canine Update: The doggers are good these days, though I worry a bit that Pippa is starting to show her age a bit. She comes up limpy more often after excessive workouts. It’s a problem only in that her heart remains full of doggy exuberance, and once she gets revved up she ignores pain almost entirely. I’m trying to ration her ball playing, but it’s a challenge. And I am at a loss as to how to stop her from being baited by the neighborhood crows. In other developments, I’ve had the bed all to myself lately because of my wife’s recent knee surgery. She needs to sleep with her leg elevated and so she’s more comfortable on a couch downstairs. This means on any given night, I sleep with two dogs and one cat (Ralph will sleep only with the Fair Jessica). This isn’t exactly a new experience for me, but it means that if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I invariably return to a puddle of spaniel eager to absorb my body heat. And the thing is, a sleeping Pippa is incredibly difficult thing to move. She has a mutant power to go completely boneless and increase her body mass tenfold, so it’s like moving a ball of furry dough across a carpet. As for Zoë, the moment the first hint of morning light appears, she comes over to me and starts licking my face. “It’s go time, human.”
Anyway, they’re lovingfall. They approached “Platonic realm of ideals”-level frolicking yesterday. And Pippa still loves the water even when it’s 40 degrees out. She’s less enamored with outright theft. Zoë meanwhile got to play with her best friend again, which always makes me happy.
The first Remnant podcast this week was a deep dive into political theory with Daniel Burns of the University of Dallas.
The second was with Andy Smarick of the R Street Institute, which, I learned, is not on R Street. So disillusioning!
I’m going to record at least one more before Thanksgiving but I’ll try for two. Either way, the archives are full of great listening for those long drives to the in-laws or to a country without extradition.
And now, the weird stuff.