A Freeport Question For Our Time

A reader writes:

Scott has referred to the famous “Freeport Question” posed by Abraham Lincoln to Stephen Douglas in their debates.

The Freeport Question, paraphrased simply, was: as President, would you take the position that the people of a territory have the power to exclude slavery from it (notwithstanding the Dred Scott decision)?

It was intended as a rhetorical and logical trap for Douglas as an advocate of “popular sovereignty” on slavery in new territories in tension with the Dred Scott decision.

We may have something similar for the Democrats now, helpfully provided by an unlikely source, Roger Cohen in the New York Times, quoting a savvy GOP consultant:

As Chuck Coughlin, a Republican political consultant who once worked for Senator John McCain, put it…”A Democratic Party that can’t tell me how many genders there are, that ain’t flying in this country.”

Just so! I am picturing debates where the simple, straightforward question is posed to both candidates, asking for their and, by implication, their parties’ positions:

How many genders are there?

Any answer other than the simple Anglo-Saxon word of one syllable beginning with the letter “T” has just got to be devastating for the Dems.

GOP candidate: “Two.”

Dem candidate: “Blah, blah, gobbledygook, obfuscation of the obvious, blah, blah, etc.”

Makes me wish I had thought of this myself.

Our correspondent has a point. Any Democrat who wants to win his party’s nomination, or have any hope of turning out his party’s base in the general election, must toe the anti-science line that genders, being entirely a social construct, multiply endlessly. Let a hundred flowers bloom! as a pre-Bernie Sanders Socialist once put it.

My memories of long-ago biology classes have grown dim, but I am pretty sure there are X chromosomes and Y chromosomes, but no A, B, C, D, E, F or G chromosomes. Not everything is a social construct, which is another way of saying: reality exists. A proposition against which the Democratic Party pretty consistently rebels.

To me, the biggest uncertainty in this scenario is whether the GOP’s nominee in 2020–presumably Donald Trump–will have the common sense to give the right answer to the gender question.


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