Where do men fit into the Democrats’ grievance hierarchy? On the left is has become normal to declare “the future is female.” Men are scolded for not being good enough “allies.” To have an opinion on the sanctity of life is to further “the patriarchy.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. With some intersectional maneuvering, Democrats at least pay lip service to male suffering. For example, Draconian drug laws that imprison millions of men might not warrant a presidential candidate’s attention, but Draconian drug laws that imprison millions of people of color is a priority in the name of racial justice, especially when trying to win over black primary voters.
Filtering men’s issues through intersectional identity politics presents two problems, though. First, it fails to justly capture the severity of suffering experienced by America’s working class.
Second, it subordinates actions to improve men’s lives to racial politics, which misses the key point of past efforts to achieve a colorblind society. The black men who marched as part of the 1960’s civil rights movement carried signs reading “I Am a Man” because they wanted to be seen as men, not to be defined by membership to a racial category.
Some might say this is just rhetoric and that the Democrats’ grievance hierarchy won’t influence how a Democratic president might govern.
To those skeptics, I’d suggest they look north to my country of Canada. Our Liberal Party plays the same intersectional identity politics game as the Democrats, telling men they are “privileged” en masse.
Since being elected in 2015, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone around the world decrying “toxic masculinity” and claiming female entrepreneurs are superior to male ones, all while sabotaging Canada’s oil and gas industry and overseeing the largest male unemployment rate in the province of Alberta’s history. The rhetoric matters because it reveals who politicians want to be accountable to.
If the Democrats are going to continue on this path, the Republican Party should be an alternative where Americans can turn to when they want to propose solutions that might uniquely help men and their sons.
Many of the Americans looking for such space aren’t stereotypical Republican voters. They’re inner-city teachers and preachers turning boys away from gangs, or suburban social workers and counselors worried about male students’ mental health.
Republicans should show it’s possible to be responsive to the needs of men and women alike, while still pursuing a colorblind society.
A first step for Republicans would be to prioritize including men when supporting the American family. Father involvement is critical to giving every child a fair chance to succeed in life because it can make a world of difference for mental health and academic performance, especially for boys.
To meaningfully include men means considering the needs of formerly incarcerated fathers when implementing criminal justice reforms like The First Step Act, or determining if longer parental leave options can help young parents adjust to their new parenting responsibilities.
Moreover, Republicans fighting the opioid crisis should offer more resources to men and women serving as kinship caregivers when birth parents are absent due to addiction or overdose.
Being the party to encourage rather than discourage men and their sons would help Republicans replace the Democrats’ grievance hierarchy with a positive, affirmative vision for a better America.