Colson: Why Women Like Big Government

The sexual revolution promised liberation from traditional morality, but the only folks liberated were men.

I'm leaving," the woman announced trenchantly. Five women, all long-time Republicans, staged a media event during the GOP convention to dramatize their switch to the Democrats.

The gender gap. As we write, just before the election, the media are pressing the issue relentlessly, blaming the gap on the GOP's pro-life plank. Republican strategists are straining to open the "big tent" flaps and woo in pro-choice women.

But, surprisingly, both press and politicians have it wrong. Polls show that the gender gap has little to do with abortion or women's rights. Indeed, a recent Wirthlin poll found that men favor abortion more than women do: 43 percent over 34 percent.

The real gulf, it turns out, concerns the welfare state. Men tend to want to shrink government, cut taxes, slash spending. But growing numbers of women support government social programs. Why? Because with the staggering increase in divorce and illegitimacy, they and their children are more likely to be recipients of such programs.

In a recent Atlantic Monthly article, Stephen Stark notes that far more women than men supported the Clinton health-care plan-because women are less likely to be covered by existing insurance plans (more of them work part-time). Likewise, women are more concerned about Medicaid and Medicare—because they live longer. Finally, women are more likely to support Great Society programs aimed at the needs of the poor—because mother-headed families tend to be poorer than father-headed families.

In short, the widespread breakdown of marriage and family has left increasing numbers of women without adequate economic support. Which in turn, Stark writes, has "led more women than men to be dependent on and supportive of government welfare programs." ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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Colson: Why Women Like Big Government
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In the Magazine

November 11, 1996

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