Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s newly chosen running-mate in this year’s presidential election race, is a strong candidate on many grounds. He is a brilliant man, a thorough master of government finances – which as we all know need work these days – and he is more conservative than Romney, which should appeal to the party’s skeptical Tea Party faction. He is a good speaker, and at age forty-two he is a generation younger than Romney — and also a good deal younger than President Obama – which might help the GOP connect with younger voters.
All this is just fine, but in watching the news today I also heard it suggested more than once that Ryan might be more popular than Romney with women. Romney, we are told, is an old-fashioned, milk-drinking square who wants to deprive women of their rights and privileges and send them back to the 1950s.
Ryan, by contrast, is a good-looking guy, tall and trim, said to have fantastic abs, and blessed with that enviable Irish charm. His line of chatter over cocktails might be off-putting to women – few of whom care much about the federal budget – but they probably figure that if they can corner him for a moment they can make him stop talking.
Many women, it seems, vote with their gonads.
When John F. Kennedy was running for president, hordes of young women invariably lined his parade routes. Theodore White, the author of the “Making of the President” series of books, observed that the women in the back rows would frantically jump up and down to get a glimpse of the dazzlingly charming candidate.
When JFK’s opponent, Richard Nixon, went riding by, not a single woman onlooker lifted a foot. Probably most of them were into middle-age or older, and suffering from arthritis and gout.
The people who run for president are not unaware of this female tendency. John Kerry, when he ran at the head of the Democratic ticket in 2004, chose John Edwards as his running-mate. I can’t think of any special qualities that Edwards brought to the ticket, except perhaps an ability to appeal visually to giddy, young female voters.
Bob Dole seems to have made a half-hearted stab at it when he ran against President Clinton in 1996, choosing as his running-mate the charismatic but slightly superannuated ex-football player Jack Kemp. I don’t know what George Bush the elder had in mind when he chose young Dan Quayle as his running-mate, but the ticket did win the first time around, although Quayle himself turned out to be a dud.
I don’t enjoy having to write this, but I think the time has come to limit women’s suffrage. The noble experiment that began when women were granted the right to vote in 1920, by the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, has failed.
In the years before the amendment was passed, women’s suffrage was opposed not only by men, but also by some women. The historians tell us that it was opposed by married women who circulated in political-leadership circles, who had a behind-the-scenes influence on women’s issues with the decision-makers, and who didn’t want to see that influence turned over to the hoi polloi.
These women also argued that if women had the vote, they would want to impose prohibition of alcoholic beverages on the nation. Who is to say that they were wrong?
Those arguments aren’t the ones we hear today, but there still seems to be something wrong with letting women vote. The mere fact that they strongly favored Obama in 2008, and that they continue to strongly favor him in 2012, should be argument enough for some kind of reform.
I do not favor taking their votes away entirely. I don’t perceive any threat that they will re-impose Prohibition. But I wouldn’t allow them to vote in any election featuring male opponents, because they are too likely to make their choices for reasons that have nothing to do with the welfare of the republic.
I see no danger in letting them vote in elections where both opponents are women, but so far there has never been a presidential election in which even one of the major party tickets was headed by a woman. And there has never been one in which both V.P. candidates were women. So we are dealing only in theory for now.
I would even go so far as to suggest, in my even-handed way, that maybe men shouldn’t be allowed to choose between two women, especially in the unlikely event that one of them was good-looking.
Suppose someday a woman runs against a man for the top spot? Should we let women vote in that case? I would say no, because they unquestionably would vote for the woman for chauvinistic reasons, unless her male opponent was a fantastic hottie like JFK, in which case they would totally overlook the female candidate’s good qualities. No matter how a woman voted, it would be a flawed choice.