Can liberals be manly men?

Drawing by Sam Wood

Fox News contributor Steven Crowder thinks liberalism is killing the manly man.  It’s more likely Crowder doesn’t understand what it means to be liberal.

Crowder isn’t glorifying the stereotypical testosterone-laden grog-swilling lady-killer from days of yore.  Rather, he reasonably positions a “manly man” as one setting a good example for his son—an example of self-reliance. To be manly is to be a man who can provide for his family.  This is an image most men aspire to, and one most men of any political ilk try to pass on to their sons.

Yet Crowder asserts that liberals can’t pass this test of manliness.

“Liberals don’t believe in the ultimate concept of self-reliance, which is why they look to the government for stability. Extravagant welfare programs, the near impossibility of getting fired on the public dole and an increasingly complicated tax code are all products of the same deeply rooted concept that man cannot provide for himself.”

There are two key fallacies in this assertion.  First up is the notion that liberals are looking for government to become a nanny care state.  While liberals are generally in favor of safety nets, this is very different than a belief that hard work should not be rewarded or that everyone should be entitled to coast on the government’s dime, without contributing their fair share.  Yes, there are ample horror stories of welfare queens with twelve kids who are hoping to get knocked up again soon so they can afford the new car payment.   Or stories of guys spending their disability checks out on the golf course every week.  But you’d need to look pretty long and hard to find a liberal who would defend this as appropriate rather than as an abuse of the system.

Liberals are generally in favor of programs to make sure that people who have fallen on hard times have a chance to get back on their feet.  They are usually in favor of programs to give everyone a reasonable chance to succeed by educating them and keeping them healthy.   They advocate for government funding of infrastructure development and leading edge research that provides a general societal good.  But that’s different than advocating for nanny care.

Second up is the sophistry that conservatives don’t rely on the government for anything, but rather are entirely self-made and self-reliant.  The Tea Party has become the poster child for this sort of rhetoric, but ironically many of their biggest rising stars have been unmasked as having ridden the government gravy train from time to time.  Examples include:  Rand Paul’s ophthalmology practice being over 50% Medicare patients; Sharon Angle and her husband living off his government pension which includes medical coverage;  Michele Bachmann’s family receiving farm subsidies;  and Alaska’s Joe Miller who has apparently taken advantage of about every form of government assistance available.

Worse yet is a failure to recognize that regardless of how well employed or self-reliant any of us might seem, we all, regardless of political view, depend on the government.  From roads and schools to our food supply and safety, as citizens we count on the government to provide.  Cheap and readily available fuel and energy are enabled by the government.   The government regulates and manages the money supply, interest rates, and trade to make our goods more internationally competitive.  The list goes on and on.  The point being that while there are arguments to be had over how well these services are provided or exactly which policies and regulations get enacted, we all still depend on them.  No man is an island, and no business or family is either.

Returning to Crowder’s notion of a real man providing for his family, a good parent does not simply throw money and resources at his children.  A parent’s role is to enable that child to be self-sufficient someday, and resources are spent to enable that goal.  Not all children will succeed, but as a parent, you want them all to have a chance to do so.  A liberal simply believes that there is a general good to all when everyone is enabled to succeed, not just your family.  A rising tide lifts all boats.

So who’s more manly?  A father who runs into a burning building to save only his child, or the fireman who runs in to save complete strangers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *