With its emphasis on hierarchy and the degrading of individual choice, polygamy is traditionally associated with authoritarian cultures. Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal writes, "No polygamous society has ever been a true liberal democracy, in anything like the modern sense." In his classic book "Men and Marriage," George Gilder argues, "Monogamy is egalitarianism in the realm of love." It promises one woman per man, and limits the ability of powerful men to dominate.
One disapproving columnist says of the Texas raid: "There is a whiff of cultural imperialism here. This is about further marginalizing an already-marginalized way of life." Indeed it is. There are limits to pluralism. In the 19th century, when the Mormon Church still supported polygamy, the U.S. government harried it mercilessly. As Stanley Kurtz points out, the campaign against polygamy related to the effort to democratize Utah.
Now, polygamists are trying to ride on the liberal wave of nonjudgmentalism and of hostility to traditional marriage. Who are we to say what marriage is? As liberal democrats, we've said it before, and have to again.
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