There has been a change in how Americans talk about issues of sex.
A few years ago, the Gillette commercial attacking “toxic masculinity” or the APA guidelines criticizing “traditional masculinity ideology” and “male privilege” probably would not have aroused such a stir.
These days, however, ordinary men seem to feel increasingly comfortable speaking up and expressing their discontent.
This is why it is time for Republicans to take advantage of this new social reality, and begin explicitly courting men as a voting demographic.
Republicans tend to wring their hands about winning the female vote, but the truth is that the gender gap cuts both ways. Pew Research found that, in the 2016 election, the 12-point gap for Clinton among women was mirrored by a 12-point gap for Trump among men.
There is also good reason to believe that voters are concerned about men’s issues: A Rasmussen poll released last October found that 57 percent of likely voters agreed with President Trump’s statement that “It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” and another poll found that nearly 69 percent of Americans believe that men experience some degree of discrimination in our society.
Meanwhile, in the non-political arena, speakers such as psychology professor Jordan Peterson have attracted millions of acolytes, a disproportionate number of which are young men, simply by speaking respectfully to those men about how they can improve their lives.
This is a sizeable untapped political niche, and the first Republican to tap into it will reap a windfall.
Next time a Democrat accuses a Republican of waging a “war on women” or some such thing, the Republican should call their bluff. After reaffirming their commitment to women’s rights, the Republican should say, “Okay, now let’s talk about men!”
There is much to talk about.
Men die younger than women. Men are the vast majority of suicides, the homeless, workplace and combat casualties, and prison inmates.
As detailed by Warren Farrell and John Gray in their book “The Boy Crisis,” vast numbers of boys and young men today are also experiencing a devastating “failure to launch.”
The first Republican courageous enough to breach this issue will win the hearts of millions of male voters. And it will catch Democrats in a bind: if they acknowledge men’s issues then they will alienate their feminist base, but if they scoff at them, they will drive those same male voters even further away.
There are a couple other points to be said for this strategy.
First, it has already shown itself to be a uniting issue for conservatives of all stripes. In a time when conservatism is so deeply divided, an issue with the power to unite everyone from Tucker Carlson to Ben Shapiro should not be lightly disregarded.
Second, this strategy has the potential to become the Holy Grail of conservative politics: a way for Republicans to appeal to voters from African American, Latino, and other minority backgrounds.
There are already signs of this: as detailed by Jemele Hill in The Atlantic, many black men (for very understandable reasons) expressed sympathy with Brett Kavanaugh after he was accused of sexual assault.
The Democrats’ response to this (as evinced by Hill’s conclusion) is to stoke racial division between black and white men. But if men of different races come to see past this callow ploy, it will be a very bad day indeed for the Democratic Party — and a very good day for the GOP.
Now, many Republicans will likely be afraid that courting male voters will push away women.
But while it is true that women are the majority of the electorate, Republicans may be overestimating the degree to which women see themselves as foot soldiers in a great war against the patriarchy. Most women, aside from a small but vocal minority who will never vote Republican anyway, do not hate men or want to see men suffer.
On the contrary, most women love their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, and recognize that a loss for one sex is ultimately a loss for both.
There are many intelligent Republican strategists, and these strategists are more than capable of honing an appeal to male voters so that it does not alienate women but instead appeals to men’s and women’s basic humanity.
It is not common in politics to find a strategy which is both politically savvy and morally right. Republicans have such an opportunity, and they should not let it slide. It is high time for them to make men’s and boys’ issues their own.
Jason Garshfield is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where he served as vice president of UCSB’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.