The Freeport Question of Our Time

The “Freeport Question” refers to Abraham Lincoln’s devastating question posed to Stephen Douglas in his second debate against Douglas on August 27, 1858, held in Freeport, Illinois. The question was seemingly simple: “Can the people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a State constitution?”

Douglas’s answer split the Democratic Party in half, and helped to assure Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 presidential election. Douglas’s answer was Yes, a territory could exclude slavery prior to applying for statehood if the residents of the territory so chose. But the Democratic Party’s southern slave interest was demanding a federal “slave code” that would permit them to take slaves to any territory as a matter of federal legal right (a prospect made more possible by the lamentable Dred Scott decision), no matter what a majority of the residents thought. As such, Douglas’s answer was unacceptable, and so was his candidacy in 1860, which is why the Democratic Party split in half in the summer of 1860 and ran two tickets in the November election.

Today’s Freeport Question—the question that has the potential to split the Democratic Party off from a majority of voters—is: what is a woman? We have seen, this week, a nominee for the Supreme Court says she is incapable of defining what a woman is, without the expertise of a biologist. Are the federal courts now going to need in-house biologists to determine how to apply laws aimed at prohibiting discrimination against women? (Or men for that matter, because someone who can’t tell what a woman is may well have the same difficulty identifying a man.)

I hope the media—or Republican candidates since we know the media will not risk embarrassing Democrats—will press the question “What is a woman?” repeatedly in the next two election cycles. As we have seen, Democrats can’t give a common sense answer to the question because they are pledged to the new identity politics orthodoxy that it is perfectly fine for women collegiate swimmers to have a penis and change in the women’s locker room. (And to suppress anyone who dares criticize this impulse.)

JOHN adds: In a miracle of timing, a full-length documentary titled “What Is a Woman?” is coming out in May. The documentary features Matt Walsh, is produced by the Daily Wire and directed by my friend Justin Folk. Walsh previews it on Twitter:

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