It’s neither rare nor surprising for a politician to say something conspicuously wrong-headed. That seems to be the bulk of what they do; it’s almost enough to make one suspect that they have special training. Sometimes though one says something which is inconspicuously wrong-headed. These are the times I’m most tempted to comment, a temptation to which I am currently succumbing.
Early today, in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision concerning a portion of the Affordable Care Act, Harry Reid reportedly tweeted, “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women.” This sounds like exactly the sort of comment around which feminists everywhere should unite, and they probably will. It’s so groundbreakingly stupid though, it’s hard to believe that Mr. Reid, who isn’t stupid, invented the comment himself.
I’ll gloss over the suggestion that the five men of the majority opinion decided based on their sex rather than on the legal reasons that they themselves provided. Not only is that suggestion obviously fallacious (and insulting), it’s very nearly a conspiracy theory about how more than half of the most powerful justices in the United States are largely and obviously incapable of thinking clearly. (Or perhaps it’s an indictment of clear thinking in general.)
What’s far more interesting–at least from the perspective of absurdity–is the suggestion that a decision affecting women is somehow unjust unless it has been adjudicated by women. Presumably, no one but women can fairly decide women’s issues. Naturally, it would be helpful if there were more women, perhaps a majority, with seats on the Supreme Court.
Then how could they fairly decide men’s issues, though?
It seems that the only solution acceptable is to have two Supreme Courts, one comprised of women to decide women’s issues and one comprised of men to decide men’s issues. They would of course be equal, just separate, or to be slightly more transparent: “Separate but Equal.” Naturally women and men should also each have their own Congresses, to write laws that affect them, and their own President, to oversee their own individual militaries and to spout their own most ridiculous rhetoric. Afterward we can make sure that they attend different schools, so that their educations aren’t unfairly biased, and drink out of different water-fountains, so that they don’t get cooties.
According to Mr. Reid (or whoever tweeted as him), the difference between their experiences is so great that they simply cannot be trusted to represent each other. Clearly no one can fairly decide any matter involving anyone significantly different from himself or herself. Ironically of course, the difference in question is one that we as a culture are aggressively trying to pretend doesn’t exist anyway. After all, it’s wrong to treat men and women differently.
Perhaps Mr. Reid (or whoever tweeted as him) should have begun with a difference that he’s ideologically prepared (and required) to acknowledge, an economic one. Perhaps it’s time for rich people (like Harry Reid and most other politicians) to stop deciding what happens to poor people (like most of their constituents), with the complimentary claim that poor people should stop deciding what happens to rich people too. (I’m sure a lot of 18th century French nobles would have liked that.) Perhaps the rich and the poor should have their own governments too, and never the twain shall meet.
It seems we actually need four governments–one by and for rich men, one by and for rich women, one by and for poor men, and one by and for poor women. I don’t know why we should stop there though. After all there are other significant differences that might impugn someone’s credibility as a representative. We might also divide by race, by religion, by marital status, by the marital status of one’s parents, by whether one lives in an urban setting or a rural one, and by any criteria that someone might possibly use to complain about disenfranchisement.
Of course that last is perhaps the most critical. Eventually, as the various (but obviously more fair) governments become smaller and represent smaller groups of people, the most obvious division in any particular group will be between those people in government and those people not in government. Why should those people in government make decisions for those not in government? By virtue of being representatives, they fundamentally alter their experience so that they are no longer representative.
Clearly Harry Reid (or whoever tweeted as him), with his call for a more justly representative Supreme Court, doesn’t want representative government at all. That’s something of a problem for an elected official in a representative democracy.