Shocking news. The most fatally flawed presidential candidate in American history was reincarnated last week in India to do an encore comedy routine about her political corpse. Hillary Clinton explained the female problems that caused her unexpected political demise in backwards America to a presumably liberated, progressive, and sexually equal audience in Mumbai at the India Today Conclave. The bewildered Indians probably couldn’t comprehend the primitive sexism they were hearing about:
Women candidates, explained the famed political scientist, “don’t do well with married, white women. And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”
Back in the US, the Clinton Pity Memorial Tour produced bipartisan criticism. According to the Congressional newspaper The Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike called her words “cringe worthy,” “absurd,” “annoying and wrong.” “Who lets her say these things?” one former Clinton surrogate wondered.
You might think reviews like that would quickly shush Clinton and her institutional defenders. You would be wrong because you would underestimate the iron grip identity politics has on the Left. “Like it or not, studies suggest that Clinton may not be wrong on white women voting like their husbands” bellowed Washington Post columnist Eugene Scott.
Scott tried to breathe life into Clinton’s odd post-mortem by citing a study co-authored by Oregon State University assistant professor Kelsy Kretschmer which purports to show husbands exert significant pressure on how women vote. “We know white men are more conservative, so when you’re married to a white man you get a lot more pressure to vote consistent with that ideology,” Kretchner elaborated.
The very strange thing about this sequence--Clinton claims women voters obeyed men; liberal politicians rebuke her; liberal academics and journalists jump to defend her--is that it is a near identical repeat of events of six months ago when Clinton made the same claim in an interview with NPR.
At the time, it was the left-leaning Guardian newspaper that leapt to rescue Clinton from harm at her own hand. The paper ran a story: “Why Hillary Clinton was right about white women – and their husbands.”
Like the Post, the Guardian cited Kretchner’s study. It is a testament to how unsupportable Clinton’s argument is that liberals have not been able to come up with a better defense. The study—or rather the political conclusion attributed to it--is bunk. Published in Political Research Quarterly, Kretchner’s work does not demonstrate pressure imposed by males, but rather women making self-interested decisions in their own life circumstances. Don’t take my word for it. Let the author debunk her own political premise by describing her work to the Guardian.
Reporter Lucia Graves sets the stage mournfully: “Given the opportunity to make history by electing the first female president, women didn’t take it. And ironically, the women who bore the most resemblance to Clinton – white, heterosexual and married – were less likely to vote for her.” Graves rehearses Clinton’s theory of tremendous manpressuring and concedes “people might scoff at the idea that women vote based on what husbands and fathers tell them to do.” But, she assures us, “Social science backs up Clinton’s anecdotal hunch.”
Graves hands the microphone to Kretschmer, who recites the long observed fact that married women tend to vote more conservatively than single women. So far so good, but here, the pressure hypothesis—and any support for Clinton’s theory—collapses.
The elephant in the room is women’s perception of their own interests. “’Just being married makes women more conservative in their vote choice,’” Kretchmer explains. Graves concedes “Individually speaking, such voting behavior is more rational than it may sound.” Then she launches into high proof identity narrative. “The key distinction, according to Kretschmer’s research, is that single women tend to cast votes with the fate of all women in mind, while women married to men vote on behalf of their husbands and families.”
Got that? Single women vote for Womankind. Married women vote for husbands and kids. The first thing to observe is there’s no suggestion of “tremendous pressure” from anyone, just different women’s priorities in voting. The second thing to observe is that Graves and Kretchner conflate a handful of liberal issues–expansive abortion, equal pay (which has been the law of the land for decades), more aggressive employment litigation theories—with women’s interests as a whole, and dismiss other concerns that are perfectly rational motivations for female voters.
Their anecdotal coup de grace is telling:
“A college-educated woman identifying as a liberal Democrat confided to Kretschmer – not wanting to be identified, as a Trump voter – that she had voted for him over Clinton because her husband’s job depends on the coal industry; she saw Trump as the candidate that would protect it, and by extension her family’s economic interests. Kretschmer called her story “the clearest, most heartbreaking validation of our article that I had ever heard.”
This conclusion is wishful thinking. The story does not confirm male pressure. It reveals female decision-making. There’s no arm twisting. There’s simply a self-described liberal woman voting for the candidate who promised to protect her family’s livelihood over the candidate who cackled she was “going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Rather than the bully thesis, it is more accurate to say Kretschmer’s study shows married women are more likely to vote for policies that support strong economic opportunity and family security than they are to vote for the Daddy-Hubby State envisioned byPresident Obama’s animated campaign character, Julia. Recall Julia was an apparently single mother who credited her life successes to a cradle-to-grave series of government programs. The primary difference between Julia and the woman Kretchmer interviewed is not male pressure, but their different priorities and desires, one for more government help, the other for greater responsibility and independence.
That is an important divide. If married women vote more conservative and single women vote more liberal, it’s not because of orders issued by the men. Hillary’s self-serving theory is still hanging out there, rearing its head again, still offensive, and still looking stupid.