Al Gore, should he win the Oval Office in November, will owe his victory to the triumph of what G.K. Chesterton called "masculinism"—actually the pseudo-masculinism of the "suffragettes" who have transformed elections into popularity contests. Without the use of polls and across the ocean, Chesterton foresaw this phenomenon 91 years ago in his essay "The Modern Surrender of Women."
His prediction was simple and (even then) controversial: If women were given the vote, democratic polities would degenerate, producing a media-manipulated tyranny, as women became the victims of "male exaggeration." By voting, women would gradually be stripped of their femininity, while men, by shilling for their votes, would cease to be men.
By "masculinism," Chesterton meant two things: man's desire to coerce others and his need to fraternize with other men and argue. These actions are the fundamental components of democracy. Voting "is only the shadow" of "the men of the village shouting at each other at The Blue Pig."
Inevitably, The Blue Pig is full of hot air—"outrageous pomposities of speech." But real men understood that this barroom ritual—call it "politics"—is a hyperbolic "art, which we knew was not the whole of life." Only a naive buffoon would take politics too seriously. We can still see this in Britain's House of Commons. Imagine the "right honorable gentleman" Bill Clinton on Questions for the Prime Minister, trying to sell his "Bridge to the 21st Century." The guffaws would be heard from the Thames all the way to Lands End.
Chesterton's piercing eye could see the new Blue Pig of the 21st century, although he did not know its name: the Oprah Winfrey Show. There was Al Gore on the ottoman opposite Oprah, musing about his favorite book, his love for Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and Tipper—which inevitably led to talk of "The Kiss." Oprah lobbed him an easy one: "Were you trying to send a message by passionately kissing your wife on national television?" Gore responded, "I was trying to send Tipper a message." The crowd swooned.
"The immediate effect of the female suffrage movement," said Chesterton, "will be to make politics much too important; to exaggerate them all out of proportion to the rest of life." Our masculinized women and feminized men risk more emotional capital on the national election than they do in the areas of life that really matter: home, church, school. The soccer moms who watch Oprah's show are the demographic that will likely decide who becomes president because, as Chesterton predicted, they have surrendered "that throne of satire, realism and detachment from which [they] so long laughed at the solemnities and moderated the manias of the mere politician." The majority of women who were "strong and scornful" has been replaced by a majority that is excessively "submissive, prostrate, and penitent" in the face of a politician.
The kind of men who used to frequent The Blue Pig—and the (real) women who refused to—understood that polities was mostly bunk. "We knew that the country would not be ruined by politicians half so utterly and sweepingly as it could be ruined by nurse maids."
Today's nursemaids are too busy watching Crossfire (or one of the other ubiquitous political talk shows) to exercise the exquisite and beautiful tyranny that once was theirs by tradition, culture, and nature. Rather than retain creative control over the real stuff of life—hearth and home—the suffragettes pined for a milquetoast version of The Blue Pig—a world in which modern she-men are content to share the bar with Cokie Roberts, Mary Matalin, and Oprah Winfrey. The brave new world won by the suffragettes and maintained by the establishment is full of insipid homes and Blue Pigs, in which no one is content.
Rush Limbaugh keeps telling the GOP troops not to worry; the polls don't mean anything. Bush will win on character. But what the Limbaughs do not realize is that the Bushes (and the Bob Doles) of this world are not welcomed at the new Blue Pig—unless they become more like Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Perhaps that is why Bush went on Oprah and said that, as president, he would "usher in a new era of tough love"; or why Pat Buchanan picked Ezola Foster to be his running mate. Still, both Bush and Buchanan look and sound too much like relics from The Blue Pig: They will never be comfortable on Oprah's stage. And that is why they cannot win.
Aaron D. Wolf (1973-2019) was Chronicles' executive editor. His writings have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. He was a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. (Lutheran Public Radio) and The Paul Youngblood Show (nta.fm), and has appeared on several other radio programs, including The Tom Clark Show (Wisconsin Public Radio) and Extension 720 With Milt Rosenberg (WGN).