No children, no vote: Fox News’s latest asinine suggestion

·5 min read
<span>Photograph: Jeffrey Dean/AP</span>
Photograph: Jeffrey Dean/AP

No kids, no vote

Should we disenfranchise the childfree? If you’re wondering what kind of stupid question that is, the answer is: it’s the sort of stupid question that Fox News hosts and Republicans deem worthy of serious discussion. Last week the intellectuals at Fox News took some time out from vilifying immigrants and inventing things to get outraged about in order to debate whether the “childless left” deserve a vote. After some careful consideration they decided that while it probably wasn’t “feasible” to ban childfree people from participating in society, the idea did have merit.

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The catalyst for this mind-bogglingly asinine discussion, by the way, was a recent speech made by the Ohio Senate candidate JDVance to a conservative thinktank. Vance chastised four prominent Democrat leaders – Vice-President Kamala Harris, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – for not reproducing, suggesting that not having biological kids made them bad leaders.

Being childfree, per Vance, means you don’t have a “physical commitment to the future of [the US]” thus shouldn’t have as much say in the direction of the country as parents.

Vance’s views may be extreme, but I think it’s important to recognize that his condescension towards the childfree is not uncommon. Quite the opposite. While things are slowly changing, choosing not to have kids, particularly if you’re a woman, is still very much stigmatized. The childfree aren’t just seen as being less fulfilled, they’re seen as less moral. “The choice not to have children,” Pope Francis pontificated in 2015, “is selfish.” Which, of course, isn’t a surprising thing for him to say; the Catholic church, as we all know, loves kids.

It should go without saying, but having a child doesn’t automatically make you a better person. It doesn’t mean you are immediately more invested in the world’s future. It just means you have a kid. And while that may entail spending less time thinking about your own needs, it doesn’t mean you spend your days trying to make the world a better place. Just look, for example, at how white liberal parents have helped perpetuate segregated schools in America. As the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has explained, many liberal-leaning white Americans claim to believe in racial equality and integration, but act in ways that maintain inequality and segregation because they’re focused on getting every possible advantage for their own child.

I write all this, by the way, as someone who had my first child earlier this year. While I now have significantly less time and money, I’ll happily admit that choosing to have a kid was probably one of the most selfish things I’ve ever done. If you’re going to be purely rational about it then choosing to have a kid in a world facing a climate crisis is obviously selfish: your time and resources are better off directed towards other, more utilitarian, things. Obviously, however, having a child is not a decision you make purely with the logical part of your brain. If it was nobody would have kids.

Anyway, now that I have established that I am a parent, ergo a Serious Person™, I’ve got a policy proposal of my own to consider. Why not ban all Fox News hosts from voting? While I concede the idea probably isn’t feasible, you’ve got to admit it isn’t without merit.

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