Josh Hawley Needs to Learn a Thing or Two About ‘Manhood’

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters
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In America today, there is no man more obsessed with “manhood” than Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).

And while he’s never been to war, he spends most of his waking hours cosplaying on the battlefields of a culture war. This includes accusing men like us, two Marine veterans, of wanting to redefine things “like courage, and independence, and assertiveness—as a danger to society.”

Thankfully for those of us who have been poorly instructed, Josh’s book, Manhood, can show us the light. For just $29.99 we can learn the path to achieving Hawley-level masculinity by recreating ourselves in his own image.

Josh Hawley Knows Nothing About What Makes a Real Man, or a Good One

While we haven’t read the book, we certainly hope there’s a chapter on the manliness of skittering away from mobs you’ve incited outside the U.S. Capitol.

But however cringe-worthy Hawley’s solutions might be, the problem is real. The data is clear: Working-class men in America are disconnected from the economy, and it hurts.

As two male Democrats, we have not just the opportunity but the responsibility to go on the offensive here and actually engage with the issues Hawley is misrepresenting. The senator is not here to work on the issues in good faith, he’s here to advance a culture war that serves his own ambition.

He wants men to think that by subscribing to his politics, or quitting video games, or buying his book, their problems will suddenly go away. But a culture war isn’t going to help these men who have fallen behind regain their footing in the economy, in education, in their local community. Instead, it’s just going to divide us further.

Real family values are about providing a healthy alternative to the toxic masculinity Hawley is offering. The disconnect between men and the economy or society isn’t happening because men are failing to achieve some weird idea of what it means to be a man. The core of this crisis is the fact that men without a college degree have seen their relative earnings fall by 30 percent since 1980.

Why? Because Josh Hawley and others like him have blocked advancements for working class Americans at every turn.

J.D. Vance’s Unbelievably Phony Populism

In his time as attorney general of Missouri, Hawley opposed workers receiving overtime pay—we’re talking about laborers, manufacturers, and other working-class jobs, many of which are filled by men. Thanks to Hawley’s efforts, over 230,000 working Missourians lost overtime protections. As if pay weren’t enough, he also went after benefits, using his position to try and strip away health care from working-class Missourians through his lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

When the opportunity to make a historic investment in American manufacturing and jobs came—the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—Hawley said no. When the opportunity came, again, to make a historic investment in American manufacturing and jobs, this time oriented to out-competing China, Hawley again said no. This is despite his tough-on-China talk, which so far has manifested as a petulant lone “no” vote against admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO (he thinks the war in Ukraine is a distraction), because apparently Hawley can’t comprehend that standing strong with Europe against Vladimir Putin is part and parcel of beating out Putin’s no-limits friend, Xi Jinping.

America’s Tragedy Is Its Culture of Fear—Armed With Millions of Guns

You can’t be serious about the challenges confronting America’s men while kneecapping them every chance you get. Barking orders at men at the latest manhood summit isn’t a serious solution. Real leaders don’t tell people what to do, anyway.

Marine Corps leadership—as we were taught—is about empowering others through example, tools, and training. In this case, giving everyday Americans what they need to accomplish their mission.

Here’s how: Increase union workforce and strengthen federal collective bargaining laws. Republicans like Hawley are focused on destroying unions and championing right-to-work schemes. But the reality is unions remain one of the most important tools for upward mobility for America’s working class families. Solidarity. Teamwork. Caring for one another. Standing up for the little guy. All hallmarks of union culture, and by extension, American culture.

Support alternatives to four-year colleges. Workforce training programs, technical training initiatives, apprenticeships, pathways to in-demand jobs (like health care), and a retooling of job postings to remove degree requirements where they are not necessary. After all, jobs require skills; it’s employers who require degrees.

Hold the painkiller complex accountable. It’s not just opioids, it’s the entire industry that profits from numbing people to reality: online gaming; gambling; recreational drugs.

While giving young men the tools to succeed, we can also set the expectation that they engage with reality, and uphold their responsibilities to family and society.

Build things in America. Center the American worker as they focus on unleashing the dynamism of the U.S. economy, which too often is stymied by veto points and red tape embedded across our decision-making institutions.

These are all tangible things we can do that would boost working class men across this country.

Republicans Just Proved ‘Right-Wing Populism’ Is a Con Job

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t flinch from the attacks being lobbed by Sen. Hawley and his allies.

There’s nothing manly about going on Fox News and lying directly to the very people you’re claiming to fight for. There’s nothing manly about opposing good jobs and health care for working families. And there’s certainly nothing manly about running away from a mob you helped incite.

Opportunity. A living wage. Service and responsibility. Family. Empowerment. This is what we strive for. Ideals real leaders can and should be aggressive about. Real leaders live real values, they don’t write fantasy books about them.

Rep. Jake Auchincloss is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran ,currently representing Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District in the House.

Lucas Kunce is a 13-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran, national security expert, and antitrust advocate running for U.S. Senate in Missouri.

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