An Irish newspaper recently ran a story claiming that the upper reaches of a large political party were putting pressure on a number of older parliamentarians to step at the next election. The common factor other than age was that they are all men.
This government in its wisdom passed a law. By this law any party hoping to be in receipt of state funding must present a minimum of thirty percent women candidates for local and general elections. The presidency may present problems. Or it may not. Hence the need to create space for the new and distaff slate, and the need to clear out men that the electorate in their non wisdom decided to return to the Dail.
Now you may not think this is a big deal . You find it objectionable but still not a big deal. It is after all what has been going on across the western world for getting on half a century now. This is true. And if a private person or private enterprise wished to establish such a quota system in their private or commercial activities I would have no objection.
I do object when the state enshrines injustice in the law. The law which is supposed to be blind and even handed, disinterested and equal for all. Worse this taints our very democracy where now the state like a bad magician pushes the cards it wants chosen . Every female candidate from now on not matter how brilliant , no matter how capable , will be a token.
Inevitably we will see conventions where a man of greater suitability is passed over in favour of a women in order to satisfy the law. Or worse, a man who though patently less suitable is the choice of those voting in convention is passed over. The law will be the source of injustice. The law will be the cause of harm and will frustrate natural justice. How such a law can be constitutional I leave to suppler minds than mine.
However I would remind our leaders is that the purpose of elections is not to select the best and the brightest but those who the people want.
Those of us who grew up in the twentieth century used to appreciate the bitter comedy of national nomenclature. Everyone know if a country had the words Democratic or Peoples in its full title it was far from a democracy and little interested in the opinions of its people. The skill of the left in subverting language and controlling the narrative through framing the question is well known yet it is remarkably simple and predictable.
If you want to subvert any principle and benefit one of your client groups then add a word. So if plain old equality in all things is no longer enough then introduce Gender equality or Race equality and we have a new game with new rules. In this game we can treat certain groups, usually white men, less favourably; less equally if you like in order to achieve some fairly ill defined idea of equality. It doesn’t matter a damn if doing this has any material effect on what we claim to be the systemic inequality of society. We know what we intend and what we intend is Good. It is in fact The Good.
There are not enough women in politics we are told. I don’t know what that means but moving on. The reason there are not more women in politics is the same as the reason for women earning less than men and why black Americans earn less than whites. Prejudice. Chauvinism. Racism. Everyone knows that. And since wicked voters and local party workers are drenched in this bigotry we must move from on high and legislate good behaviour.
For all the talk we hear over and over women are not paid less than men. Indeed women twenty five to forty are paid more than men in the same job. Women who have never married are paid the same or more than men in same professions. Girls do better than boys in state exams. They have higher entrance rates in university and score higher primary degree results. They are in the majority now in law, medicine and all across the humanities and many of the sciences such as Biology. Maths and uber geeky computing degrees are the last refuges of the clever lad.
Yet the bland nasty stupid immoral assumption is that if Leinster house is not fifty fifty men and women it is because of sexist troglodytes. Yet surely the gombeen liberals that passed this law must have reflected that in their own experience and to their own knowledge there is simply not a throng of qualified women banging on the door, trying to get onto the local council. Anyone even tangentially involved in Irish party politics will tell you that local parties search high and low for even merely passable women candidates to run and it has been like this for thirty years.
Is there and has there been sexism in Irish Politics? Of course. Is that why we have a massively male Dail? I don’t know. Perhaps we should ask women? My strong suspicion is that women of talent and ambition look at the life of a professional politician and find it underpaid and over worked. They look at the modes and working of Dail Eireann and wonder why anyone Male or Female would want to work there, who had a choice and was in the whole of their mental health.
Justice cannot be done through injustice. The sins of the fathers are not visited on the sons. That is one of the great principles of modernity in morality and law. Equality is not served by inequality. The law is made contemptible and the legislature brought into disrepute when one citizen of the Republic is favoured over another because of gender, race or sexuality. Justice cannot be done through injustice.