By Daniel Payne
Monday, April 17, 2017
Over at the Huffington Post, philosophy grad student Shelley Garland has a novel proposal to counter what she calls a “violent status quo” of “white male wealth and inequality.” According to Garland, all we need to do is “deny white men the franchise:”
If white men no longer had the vote, the progressive cause would be strengthened. It would not be necessary to deny white men indefinitely – the denial of the vote to white men for 20 years (just less than a generation) would go some way to seeing a decline in the influence of reactionary and neo-liberal ideology in the world. The influence of reckless white males were one of the primary reasons that led to the Great Recession which began in 2008. This would also strike a blow against toxic white masculinity, one that is long needed.
I have to give Garland credit: on its face this seems like a viable plan to overthrow the global shadowy white male cabal in favor of non-reactionary, non-neo-liberal ideology. But there are several fundamental problems here that unfortunately render this scheme fatally flawed.
White Men Will Need Compensation
For starters, there is the zero-sum aspect of it all. White males are not simply going to give up the franchise for nothing; they won’t take kindly to their recklessness and toxic white masculinity being stolen from them sine praemium. If the anti-white-male revolution wishes to realize its progressive cause both bloodlessly and effectively, white males are going to need something in return.
This will require a good bit of horse-trading. Politics isn’t fun, but it’s a necessary part of policymaking. If white men are going to be persuaded to give up the vote, they’ll need an enticing compensation. For instance: white males may give up the franchise in exchange for, say, front-of-the-line privileges at all of the world’s major theme parks. Nobody likes waiting in line, white men least of all. White males could easily be persuaded to surrender their votes if it means they can ride the Colossal Curl as many times and as quickly as they want.
Another possibility: add an additional lane of traffic to all the world’s major highways and interstates for sole usage of white male drivers. These white male occupancy vehicle (WMOV) lanes would cut down on commuting times for millions of white men the world over. Who wouldn’t give up the ballot box for that?
Beware a Resurgence Of the Patriarchy In Voting Practices
Of course, white men may not give up the vote even for all of these goodies. The white male franchise may need to be abolished by force. But that, too, would invariably fail.
Why? Because, in the event that their votes are taken away, white males will simply do what comes naturally to them: they’ll turn to the patriarchy to get what they want. White men who have lost the vote will simply end up forcing their wives and girlfriends to vote for them. And white men can do it, too, because of toxic masculinity.
In effect, a forcible abolishment of the white male franchise would deny two votes: the practical vote of the white men themselves, and the operative vote of their wives. Unfortunately this would only work to the benefit of white males themselves. Indeed, in this case, the negative effect of white male voting would actually increase, because so many women’s votes would have been expropriated by white men, while the total effective number of white male votes would remain the same.
(Single white men, of course—and gay white male couples—would force their widowed mothers, single sisters, spinster aunts, or unwed lady friends to vote for them. In the case of interracial gay male couples, the white male partner would obviously force the partner of color to vote in his stead.)
White Male Voting Rights May Last a While
Truly this is a vexing problem. We must not rule out the possibility that white males can be enticed to give up their votes with ever-more exorbitant gifts (a white male-specific global mortgage relief program, say, or unlimited free zero-gravity airplane flights for all white males).
Absent such deals, however, we may be stuck with white male voting rights for the foreseeable future. It is, to be sure, deeply unjust. But we must not give up hope that one day justice will be served, and white men will no longer be allowed in the ballot box. Let us hope for, one day, a more equitable society.