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“Suck it up and make the utilitarian bargain,” writes Linda Hirshman in the op ed page of today’s The New York Times. She’s talking, of course, about Joe Biden.
Joe Biden, long term senator, Vice President under Barack Obama, was no one’s top choice to be this year’s Democratic Presidential nominee. To top it off, there’s mounting witness testimony that he behaved inappropriately and non-consensually with staffer Tara Reade back in 1993.
So why is feminist, female-forward author Linda Hirshman saying that we should all hold our collective noses and vote Joe? For the good of the nation, of course. “I’ll take one for the team,” she writes. “I believe Ms. Reade, and I’ll vote for Mr. Biden this fall."
This sentiment is cropping up among Democratic-voting women across the nation, and the hypocrisy is so blatant and transparent that every conservative news outlet in North America has pointed it out with ease. There is no nuance to this hypocrisy—it doesn't need to be spelled out for anyone; it is obvious and apparent; it is undeniable.
Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault. According to the dictates of Democratic progressivism, this means he should be cancelled. Leftists instead tell us they are going to vote him into the highest executive office in the US, and not cancel him. There is no greater WTF moment than this one.
The women who are backing Joe are, in many countless cases, the same exact women who opted for cancelling men who were accused of far less crimes than—checks notes—sexual assault. From Nancy Pelosi to Gretchen Whitmer to Amy Klobuchar, they have all moved on from “believe all women” to “believe some women” in a blink of an eye. The “Me Too” brigade has revealed themselves to be a bunch of cynical, political operatives. It was always the case; it’s just clear as day now.
Hirshman lists her progressive, feminist bona fides, from supporting Anita Hill and her claim of not assault, but sexual harassment, pubes on a coke can, dirty jokes, to supporting Monica Lewinsky when even feminists like Gloria Steinem opted to back Bill Clinton instead of his young intern.
“All major Democratic Party figures have indicated they’re not budging on the presumptive nominee, and the transaction costs of replacing him would be suicidal. Barring some miracle, it’s going to be Mr. Biden.
“So what is the greatest good or the greatest harm? Mr. Biden, and the Democrats he may carry with him into government, are likely to do more good for women and the nation than his competition, the worst president in the history of the Republic. Compared with the good Mr. Biden can do, the cost of dismissing Tara Reade—and, worse, weakening the voices of future survivors—is worth it. And don’t call me an amoral realist. Utilitarianism is not a moral abdication; it is a moral stance.”
This is nothing short of complete and total bullshit.
She goes on to discuss the meaning of utilitarianism, using paragraphs to justify her position of voting for an accused sexual assaulter. The basic point of a utilitarian philosophy is that which brings the greatest good to the most people is the right option. She argues that Biden will do so much good for women that electing him is the right thing to do, not for Tara Reade maybe, or those survivors who everyone pretended to be so worried about, but other women.
Two things are true:
Many of the men who were taken down over accusations, allegations, and false claims were also acting in the best interests of women most of the time (Al Franken, for example) and their efforts were not notable enough to save them from the social guillotine.
Utilitarianism as a moral stance can be used to justify near any heinous social engineering project. And Hirschman knows it. She admits that it’s a hard thing to do, offer support for Biden as opposed to Reade, going so far as to say she believes Reade. But she’s going to do it anyway.
While women of a certain age are willing to vote Joe, to do virtually anything to relieve the nation of what they perceive as the orange scourge of ineptitude, young women may not be so able to serve the greater cause of progressivism by trampling on its basic tenets.
Earlier in the election season, young women took to social media to beg the Democratic party not to make them vote for Joe Biden.
And in Teen Vogue, which caters to a young, progressive set of women, Jaclyn Friedman asks voters to not turn their backs on Reade and her assertions. Instead of following Hirshman’s advice to “suck it up,” Friedman suggests that the Democratic party live up to its purported ideals.
She writes: “I believe the DNC has failed us in refusing to investigate. I believe that you can’t just ‘believe women’ when it’s easy. If you don’t believe women when treating us as credible and important comes as a political cost, you don’t believe women at all. I believe Biden should step down now and we should let candidates who’ve suspended their campaigns re-enter the race to figure out who should replace him. There are many states left in the primary.”
While she goes on to say that she won’t condemn anyone for voting Biden, saying that “voting is harm reduction,” she basically begs the Democratic party not to chuck Reade’s allegations because it’s inconvenient. She wants an investigation, not a utilitarian amelioration.
The Democratic party is going to have a hard time, a near impossible time, earning back the trust of women like Friedman or the Teen Vogue crowd if they continue to assert that the need to elect an accused sexual predator is more important than believing all women. Believe Biden or not, believe Reade or not, this is a decisive moment for the Democratic Party, and how they handle it will have long term implications for their ability to retain any kind of moral authority at all—and it was already flagging.
What this kind of “utilitarian” appeal reveals is that it was always political and it was never about ideals or ethics. The stripping away of basic civil rights, a project that Biden himself contributed greatly to, was never for the greater good. And the ease with which ideologues like Hirschman can pivot when it suits them politically should tell you precisely why due process and basic fairness matters. It should also tell you everything you need to know about why due process and basic fairness do not matter to people like them.