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This article first appeared in Townhall.com.
A column in the liberal internet magazine Slate offers an insight into how the other half thinks and lives. By the “other half,” I mean those who live in the lefty bubble—who have no understanding of conservative ideas and don’t have to worry about having their lives destroyed by the dominant media or the weaponized bureaucracy.
The Slate column is by Luke Winkie. It’s about former Vice-President Mike Pence’s practice of avoiding private meetings with women other than his wife.
Winkie is not a guy we’d expect to be sympathetic to Pence or Pence’s political views. Winkie thinks that, as President, Pence would “institute total theocracy.” About himself, he tells us he’s “a 32-year-old media professional” who has a “cohabiting girlfriend” and who believes in “the validity of LGBTQIA identity.”
He also believes that “a major reconstruction of global capital is the only way we’ll be able to preserve the human race on planet Earth.” He wants “the decline of American paramountcy in international relations” [in favor of whom? The Communist Chinese?] and he is “certain that people should generally start having sex before they turn 25”—presumably irrespective of whether they are married.
In other words, he imbibes the customary Kool-Aid of the historically, economically, and socially ignorant.
So, again, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t sync with Pence.
But what’s more striking is his total cluelessness about why Pence avoids private meetings with women other than his wife. Here’s what Winkie writes:
“The idea is that by putting yourself under the constant, panoptic surveillance of your significant other, you shall never succumb to temptations of the flesh.
“You probably already understand the retrograde logic of this philosophy. It’s built on the twin premises that women are conniving succubi put on Earth exclusively to test the sexual discipline of other people’s spouses—and that men possess no agency over who they try to sleep with . . . .”
Of course, Pence’s policy has nothing to do with any of those ideas, as any conservative with experience in public life can tell you.
Today’s conservatives—and particularly Christian conservatives like Pence—do not enjoy the forgiving ideological, social, and media environment in which Winkie thrives. The standards demanded of them are far more exacting than those demanded of “progressives.” Pence’s policy is one of survival: He is protecting himself from an overwhelmingly left-of-center, aggressively secular media that love to attack conservatives as evil hypocrites.
In fact, at one time, I had to adopt the same open-door policy myself.
Surviving in Leftist Academia
I served as a law professor for 25 years, almost all of it in the usual far-left academic environment. After ten years on the job, I began to speak out on public issues. Both I and my conservative views became widely known throughout the state.
Liberal professors had been participating in politics in my state for decades. Their universities defended their First Amendment rights to speak and found ways to accommodate their activities. The media treated them respectfully.
By contrast, I was subjected to recurrent media attacks, threats from powerful officeholders, tax audits, lawsuits, and direct on-the-job retaliation.
Many at my university—faculty, staff, and students—wanted me fired forthwith. But the state constitution forbade that kind of political discrimination. And they had no other grounds for dismissal because I had tenure, I was a productive scholar and a good teacher, and I kept my personal life in order.
On the other hand, I knew my career could be destroyed if there was just one unscrupulous woman out there who claimed I had misbehaved behind closed doors.
Such an accusation carried a high likelihood of conviction because any university inquiry would be biased against me. This was particularly so after the Obama administration began to lean on universities to adopt investigative procedures in sexual harassment cases heavily skewed against men.
And no matter how ridiculous the charges, I knew the local media would relish spreading them far and wide.
That’s when I decided the Pence policy (although I didn’t know it by that name) was a good idea. So for the entire remainder of my academic career, I was never in a closed room alone with a woman other than my wife. If a woman came into my office and shut the door behind her, I’d offer an apologetic explanation and open it again.
I knew I had to follow this rule without fail. Then, if accused, I could testify under oath that the open-door rule was my invariable practice. This also would minimize the chances of a witness testifying to the contrary.
In an ideal world, of course, conservative and liberal political figures would be held to the same standards. But that is not the world we live in. Conservative political figures who do not take extra precautions may see their reputations ruined and their careers destroyed. Worse, they may be prosecuted for alleged crimes while “progressives” guilty of the same or, worse, escape scot-free. (Think of the different legal standards applied to the classified documents cases of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.)
The author of the Slate piece wrote it as a report on “what it was like to live like Mike Pence for a week.”
It might have taught him more about our world to live for a month in the public eye as a conscientious conservative public figure must live.