If Bill Whittle can be the Shadow President (and he has my vote 100%), then I want to throw my hat in the ring for First Lady. Not like that. And not because I want to be in charge of anything (as I have neither desire nor capacity for leadership), but because I don’t hear President Whittle talking about domestic social issues quite the same way he talks about foreign and economic policy stuff.
I’m not necessarily trying to convince you of any of this, but I thought it would be worth it to get the ball rolling, to hear what this particular message could sound like from a messenger who believed it.
FIRST LADY D-DAY ADDRESSES THE NATION
My fellow Americans. Thank you for letting me speak to you as First Lady. I’m not so sexist as to believe that First Ladies are mere appendages to their husbands and share the same hopes and agendas. But it’s true that the first ladies’ agendas don’t (and shouldn’t) matter when they don’t run for that office.
I think that must be very difficult—to be so close to power and so lacking in access to it. It speaks to the strength and character of the American woman that, instead of turning to palace intrigues and power struggles, our first ladies have created themselves a position of influence through their work. That right there is the American way. Without the demands or rewards of official power, the First Lady has made herself into an institution. And because she operates outside of the official government, she’s at her best when she works on matters that don’t belong to the government, when she is the caretaker for America’s moral health—our homes and families.
I believe in limited government. I believe that the government shouldn’t be involved in any of this social agenda stuff. Not to trivialize the importance of it—precisely the opposite. As First Lady, I want to radicalize it.
You are being lied to. The culture spends a tremendous amount of effort to corrupt you away from the backward benighted social mores we typically associate with the right. And it does so with the full support of the American state. You’ve been told that the only part of the home that matters is the bedroom, and the only part of the family that matters is a state-recognized marriage. And the culture has tied you to those trees while clear-cutting the forest around you.
We are consuming the cultural capital of Americans who came before, but we’re not propagating it. Our culture that tells us it’s great to be an asshole or a deviant or a narcissist or a slut, but the only reason it’s even marginally safe to be any of those things is because most of us still aren’t. (NOTE: I mean to say, “us” to indicate “Americans,” but to be accurate, I should probably say most of “you” aren’t.)
So far, we’ve been largely buffered from the consequence of this moral decay by our economic prosperity. Note that in the places in America where poverty is most deeply felt, so is the damage from the breakdown of the traditional family values. Compare marriage rates by income. Rich people get married, stay married, and secure for themselves and their families the tremendous social, emotional, and economic benefits of the institution. At the opposite end of the economic spectrum, single mothers eke out an existence while raising a new generation of single mothers and fatherless sons who grow up to fill America’s jails. This is a crisis. It’s a social crisis and an economic crisis--caused by consumer culture and supported by our government--and it's rotting out the core of our nation and sending its people into misery. As since the American state seems intent on self-destruction, I think we ought to be paying attention to this crisis so that we don’t screw this up again as we rebuild.
So here is my social platform. Let’s take it back. The “pursuit of happiness” belongs to American people, not the American state.
I’m not here to promote any particular religious or moral point of view; I’m not asking you to have that discussion with me today. What I do I want is to see a discussion of social policy that isn’t based on “God said so” or “I hate those religious nuts.” I want social policies to be debated out in the open so we can have a fair fight, and so that free American people can choose to create a society based on happiness and optimism, or despair and dependency, and so that they can have all the information before they decide. And I think the government needs to get out of the way so this can happen.
Happiness, and fun and joy and sex and love - THESE MATTER. They matter way too much to be entrusted to the same people that bring you long lines at the DMV or asbestos-filled FEMA trailers (or don’t bring to you, as it turns out). But with each decade of government expansion, we’ve ceded more and more influence in these areas to the state. And we’ve done it because we live in a culture of nihilism that tells us that there is no tomorrow, there are only the momentary pleasures we can grab today. Our culture is so biased in its present-time orientation that most of America believes that this is simply a two-sided war between pleasure seekers and pleasure haters. It’s not. I think it’s about whether you want to be satisfied today or happy for life.
We’re having this same debate right now about fiscal policy. Should you invest your dollar or spend it on something you’ll consume today? Should you screw that guy on the first date, guaranteeing he’ll never call back, or wait to see if there’s relationship potential first? Is tonight’s high worth next year’s week-long inpatient detox? Which one is going to feel better in the long term?
The discussion I want to have as first lady is about how much of your future you’re willing to sell for whatever cheap dopamine stroke the culture is selling you today. The culture wants to sell you stuff, so we know which side it’s on. But this nihilistic present-time orientation is supported and protected by our current structures of government. After all, the government gets to own you when you’ve lived your life in such a way that you don’t have the social or emotional capital to survive without government help. Americans deserve better than a government that’s going to join with the liars and sandbag its own people into unhappiness and dependency.
As first lady, I’m not going to tell you what to do. That’s not a first lady’s job. I’m going to tell you what I intend to do, so you can take what you want and decide for yourself.
STATEMENT OF RESOLVE
I hereby resolve not to lie about sex in the guise of “education,” especially to any children I have. I won’t pretend that getting laid is the same as getting a back rub as long as the guy wears a condom—and I won’t lie that it feels just the same. I won’t lie that sex isn’t awesomely fun, but I also won’t conceal the truth that if you treat cavalierly, that you’re going to be miserable after you’ve screwed away your youth and don’t have a marriage and family to show for it.
I resolve never to support the abhorrent “abstinence-only birth control” as a social policy. I cannot think of an agenda so opposed to human desire that is more doomed to failure. I cannot think of a more perfectly Orwellian expression of hatred than to tell someone they need “birth control” so that they won’t ruin the future by being in it. I suspect that people are going to have sex either way based on their hormones and circumstances, so better to promote and encourage that drive in a socially constructive way. There are worse things I can think of than encouraging nineteen year olds to marry and start their lives early. One worse thing is to treat twenty-eight year olds like children (and then wonder why they don’t wait until marriage for sex). No one ends up wishing their kids out of existence. I’d rather err on the side of being a young grandmother than on the side the ends the day with a cocktail of Clomid and regret.
I resolve to support the return of the abortion question to the states. The current legal posture is distorting the battle for the hearts and minds that rages. I am utterly convinced that the progress of science and the goodness of the American people will eventually lead us to the right course, because Americans make good choices for themselves, but bad choices about other people. But let’s also stop pretending that it’s only about the woman and her fetus. Let’s let Americans decide locally whether they want to be part of a medical system where the culture is “we’ll do everything we can to save your baby” or “suck this one out and better luck next time.”
I resolve to demand truth from the medical system. I resolve not to take seriously anyone that wants to debate “reproductive options” without acknowledging the actual risks, benefits, and efficacy. I resolve to kick anyone in the face that tells young women that emergency contraception is “responsible” who doesn’t also tell them that it will involve three days on the bathroom floor puking your life away. (Thanks for that, Planned Parenthood!)
Finally, I resolve to be honest about the things that aren’t good for my side. To admit that pregnancy is agonizing and terrifying even when the result is good, because otherwise, people aren’t going to believe us when we tell them THIS WAY IS BETTER.
Because it is. It really is.