Equal Opportunity Pandering

I think lingering on identity politics is bad news for any sort of legitimate and effective approach to leadership. It should be irrelevant whether or not a voter is male, female, black, white, and so forth. I’d much rather politicians focus on a coherent agenda based on principles of limited government and equal, guaranteed rights. But every one of them seems incapable, so in the world we live in, I mostly agree with this editorial from today’s Opinion Journal discussing how Democrats actively court female voters while Republicans don’t explicitly do so.

The rest of the female population has migrated into 2007. Undoubtedly quite a few do care about abortion rights and the Violence Against Women Act. But for the 60% of women who today both scramble after a child and hold a job, these culture-war touchpoints aren’t their top voting priority. Their biggest concerns, not surprisingly, hew closely to those of their male counterparts: the war in Iraq, health care, the economy. But following close behind are issues that are more unique to working women and mothers. Therein rests the GOP opportunity.

The “close behind” issues involve a better way to look at traditional topics. The author’s primary example is the tax impact of income for single versus married women. Like I said, I mostly agree, because at least it’s a step away from past thinking.

Still, the essay annoys me because it assumes an unrealistic fact about today’s Republicans.

For that matter, when was the last time a GOP candidate pointed out that their own free-market policies could help alleviate this problem?

Name one Republican candidate who’s interested in free-market policies. The author only implies economic, of course. The current Republicans fail even that narrow test, but I’m not going to accept such a limited view. Free-market policies involve liberty. Politicians do not get free-market credentials for proposing one policy on a platform that pays limited respect to such liberty. Free is free, not a degree of free.

There’s a bonus in the essay – unintended by the author – that underscores the hypocrisy politicians show in shunning restraints for themselves while restricting liberty for everyone else. Especially Even Republicans.

Republicans should customize their low-tax message to explain how they directly put more money into female pockets.

I’m naming the “Republicans put more money into female pockets” meme the David Vitter Plan.