Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Irony is dead, part 721
This is a few days old, but still worth a raised eyebrow.
A state senator who once said that giving women the vote was a symptom of weakness in the American family now wants to be the top elections official in Kansas.

Sen. Kay O'Connor announced Wednesday that she is seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of state next year. O'Connor, 63, has served in the Legislature since 1993.

In 2001, O'Connor received national attention for her remarks about the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

"I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of," she said at the time. "The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and I think that's sad. I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family."

Is this offensive or just plain weird?

First, a woman who thinks women should not vote holds an elective office. How does she live with the paradox? Does she believe, as Elizabeth I was said to believe, that she is a unique creature, different from men, different from ordinary women, different, even, from other royal women? She's hardly alone in this paradox. Movement conservativism is filled with such anti-feminist women of power. Movement conservativism could hardly exist without its Phyllis Schlaflys and Beverly LeHayes.

Second, she wants to be the official in charge of elections. To do what? End women's suffrage? That's not within the power of the office. Ensure that all who are entitled to vote do so? How believable is that when she is on record as saying half the voting population should never have received the vote. Influence the machinery of elections to favor some unmentioned agenda? Hmmm.

Third, and most disgusting, many women will support her and vote for her. Some will do it ignorantly, because of the "R" after her name on the ballot. Some will do it knowledgably, because they know what she stands for and think such statements reflect "right thinking."

When asked specifically why they are voting if they think they shouldn't even have the vote, the Republican women of Kansas will dismiss the whole issue with a comment along the lines of "Oh, she didn't really mean that." And though you're thinking, "But isn't saying something you don't mean called lying?" you shouldn't say it out loud. It won't get you anywhere. It won't convince anyone. Movement conservatives don't really care about words or logic, they care about tone and message. Kay O'Connor said something outrageously un-liberal which sent a message to the movement conservatives that she's one of them.

I don't know if Kay O'Connor really means or believes what she says. I do, however, think voters should believe what their politicians say. "They don't really mean that," has a way of coming back and biting us on the ass. Hitler didn't really want to kill the Jews. Republicans don't really want to get rid of Social Security. O'Connor doesn't really want to end women's suffrage. Disbelieve at your own risk.

No comments: