Julie Borowski recently posted one of her inimitable videos that asks the question, "why aren't there more libertarian women?" The video has elicited more than a few responses, with varying degrees of support for her answer. In short, Julie suggests that pop culture promotes a liberal viewpoint and that women are easily swayed by a need to fit in or conform to whatever they are told is trendy and stylish. Her solution is to expand the numbers of libertarian entertainers and artists to bring the libertarian viewpoints into the mainstream.
I agree with her that this is a worthwhile question to explore, and not simply because libertarian cocktail parties need more women at them. However, I disagree with her in that although much of what she says in the video is true with regard to women and conforming to trends and style, I do not believe that it is at the core of why there are relatively few libertarian women. I also disagree with her proposed solution, at least in part.
When we look back at the 2012 Presidential election, one of the things that sticks out the most to me is what we learned about women voters. First of all, I think we can accept as fact that the overwhelming majority of voters reside somewhere between uninformed and under informed. What was particularly interesting among female voters was the degree to which abortion played in motivating and swaying their votes. I saw many of my female facebook friends "liking" and sharing various election posts about abortion. I listened to my female friends and co-workers talk about who they were going to vote for and why abortion was the key issue. I was astounded. Here we are, 40 years on from Roe v. Wade, our country has been stuck at a dangerously high level of unemployment, we are running record and clearly unsustainable deficits, our national debt is staggering, Iran inches closer to becoming a nuclear power every day, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Benghazi-gate, Fast and Furious, the list goes on. At no point had Romney made it a part of his campaign to outlaw abortions. And yet, many women voted on exactly that singular issue.
Credit Obama for creating the ultimate smokescreen; he (his campaign) got that issue out there and made it real to many voters. But temper that credit with the sad realization that it could only have succeeded with a group of uninformed voters. These voters obviously are unaware of a number of realities; first, the President can't outlaw abortions via executive order; second, there is absolutely NO WAY that Congress is touching that legislation - they almost tried it once in the last 40 years, but never got serious about it - and you can forget a constitutional amendment as well; third, even if Romney was able to appoint enough SCOTUS justices AND these justices were of the mind to throw stare decisis out the window and completely undermine our legal system by establishing a precedent for "anything goes," the only real result would be that the issue gets kicked back to the individual states to decide for themselves, in which case a minority of states might enact legislation that outright bans abortion. In other words, it's really a non-issue and abortion isn't going away. Particularly so while we are a nation that has a majority who, to varying degrees, support at least some kind of right to an abortion in certain circumstances.
Are the voters who were swayed by the abortion issue simply victims of a slavish devotion Vogue and People and the like? I don't believe so. Nor do I believe that they are all unintelligent. Judging from the facts that I have seen, Sandra Fluke is more likely a victim of having spent too much time devoted to Michael Seidman than she is Cosmopolitan. But we learned something very important about women. The women who are strongly in favor of choice are overwhelmingly single women, while married women tend to take a pro-life stance. What this indicates is that the fear of being a single mother is real.
What are the Libertarians to do? Well, one of the problems for Libertarians is that we generally discourage people from telling other people what to do. It's part of freedom. Liberals, on the other hand, love nothing more than to tell people what to do, how to do it, and to shut up. Republicans actually like to do this as well, but they just try to convince you that they have a better fiscal approach.
Julie suggests mainstreaming Libertarianism. There are a few problems with this. First is that most artists who have injected politics into their art - such as music and comedy - have only succeeded in hurting their careers. George Carlin was an absolutely hilarious comedian who was pushing boundaries, until he decided to get overtly political, at which point his audience dwindled and his comedy truly suffered. The Dixie Chicks learned a painful lesson. I think the reality is that people who look to be entertained do not want a lecture or lesson. The second issue is that Libertarians tend to be informed people, who do not require others to do their thinking for them. We aren't looking for a bandwagon to jump on or for cheerleaders.
I believe that there are two ways that the ranks of Libertarians will swell. One way is that people finally get tired of restrictions and regulations and find their own way to us, and all we have to do is resist the urge to say "I told you so." The other is to increase the information. It's how the abortion issue would have been effectively neutralized this past fall. Reduce the number of uninformed voters. This effort doesn't happen by recruiting artists and entertainers. It happens through education, which means that the real battle begins in our schools and in our homes.