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The Potency of Common Sense

March 14, 2024 3 min read
A family

Ireland was the source of a surprising bright spot in the news this past week.

Two referendums were defeated by voters last Friday, one of which would have expanded the definition of the family in the country’s Constitution to include reference to “other durable relationships” alongside marriage, the second of which would have struck mention of “mothers” from the document.

The vote was intentionally held on “International Women’s Day,” with the second proposed amendment, particularly, meaning to be a special victory for women. The clause in question stated that women should not be forced by economic necessity to enter the workforce to the “neglect of their duties in the home.” It was rejected by a huge margin – with 73.9% of votes opposing it, 26.1% supporting it – becoming the highest-ever “No” vote in Irish referendum history. In an even more fitting coinciding of dates, the votes were counted just in time for the nation’s celebration of “Mother’s Day,” which fell this year on March 10, just this past Sunday.

These outcomes were a surprise to government leaders, with opinion polls leading up to the vote showing a clear majority in favor of both amendments. And certainly one could understand their surprise, since Ireland has instituted a progressive agenda rather seamlessly in the past several years: voters opted to remove the right to life of unborn children from their Constitution in 2018, and they legalized same-sex civil marriage before that, in 2015, making Ireland the first country to do so by way of popular vote.

If not enough to indicate a shift in the country’s overall political sympathies, then, the most recent defeat has been called by one Catholic lawyer who campaigned against both proposals a “great victory for common sense.” As Irish government leaders scratch their heads as to how they got so out of touch with the opinions of, as the Minister of State put it, “ordinary people,” the lawyer’s point is well-put. Ideologically driven agendas eventually find themselves out to sea in terms of mapping onto a sound, clear human anthropology. Theories become more beloved than realities, and the gap between the two is sometimes brought into focus by the “common sense” of those who simply recognize the unique role mothers play in their children’s lives or the special stability marriage promises that a nebulous term like “durable relationships” can’t.

Whatever may come next for the Emerald Isle, the victory is one we can happily join in celebrating, taking it also as an encouragement that a “woke” agenda doesn’t always have the sure foothold it may seem to. “Common sense” – clear anthropology – has an attractive potency to it, too, which we could do well not to underestimate.


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