The Freeport Question of Our Time

The Freeport Question of Our Time. By Steven Hayward.

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 … 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?

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.)