In several posts here, I’ve covered the Republican National Committee’s report on 2012, the “Growth and Opportunity Project.” A fair amount of the document was spent identifying various groups that the Republicans had failed to attract, which were leaning or were overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. One of the major groups was women. In the last election, the “gender gap” the Republicans had grew from 2008. There were reasons why, but the report shows that the Party just … didn’t get it.
Let’s look at point number 5 in their document:
5. Republicans should develop a more aggressive response to Democrat rhetoric regarding a so-called “war on women.” In 2012, the Republican response to this attack was muddled, and too often the attack went undefended altogether. We need to actively combat this, better prepare our surrogates, and not stand idly by while the Democrats pigeonhole us using false attacks. There are plenty of liberal policies that negatively impact women, and it is incumbent upon the party to expose those and relentlessly attack Democrats using that framework.
I bolded the relevant “clueless” section. Why “clueless?” Despite saying they “need to listen to women,” it’s obvious even from women in their own party they haven’t:
Adding more female candidates and surrogates, however, will do little to help the party if it’s not accompanied by more a substantive change to policy, says former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
“It’s not about the messaging; it’s the message,” she said. “We are perceived as being unsympathetic to the needs of the most vulnerable.”
Exactly. It’s the message that Republicans actually send women. It was rather hard to miss, actually. Unless, that is, you were in the upper tiers of the Republican Party. Republicans fought the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
It passed in the House of Representatives with 250 votes in support and 177 against. The vote was split along party lines, with three Republicans voting in favor (Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, and Leonard Lance and Chris Smith both of New Jersey) and five Democrats voting against (Travis Childers of Mississippi, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Allen Boyd of Florida, Parker Griffith of Virginia , and Bobby Bright of Alabama). The Senate voted 72 to 23 to invoke cloture on S. 181 on January 15, 2009. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the Senate, 61-36, on January 22, 2009. Those in favor included every Democratic senator (except Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was absent from the vote because of health issues), two independents who caucused with Democrats, and five Republican senators – Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Specter later switch to the Democrats; the others include all female Republican Senators.
Even in 2012, various Republicans were calling for a repeal of the law, with one calling it “a nuisance.” During the same year, Republican Senators blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required that employers demonstrate than any pay differences between men and women were not due to gender. In effect, pay the same for doing the same job.
That was after the Republicans had been fighting to remove women’s contraceptive coverage from health insurance policies as required under the Affordable Care Act. While most policies cover such prescriptions as Viagra for men, they’ve been allowed to not cover women’s contraception. When a young law student named Sandra Fluke was asked to testify to a Congressional committee by Democrats, she was prevented from doing so. Then came the assault on her.
Limbaugh set off on an extraordinary personal denunciation [emphasis added]: “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
Notably, there was not much pushback from Republicans on this. After all, they’d much rather roll over when Rush barks. Then came their senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s remarks:
In a TV interview posted Sunday, Todd Akin, the republican nominee for senate in Missouri justified his argument against providing abortions for raped women by claiming that the body has a natural defense to getting pregnant in cases of “legitimate” rape.
Followed by Richard Mourdock in Indiana making similar claims, and despite the “distancing” of various Republicans from these statements, others came out with statements that showed that while they officially disagreed, personally they believed just that.
Then we have the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Which Republicans blocked:
Usually it’s reauthorized without much fanfare. This time around, however, several Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), are putting up a fight. Despite the fact that the bill has several Republican sponsors, all eight GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee voted against the bill when the committee considered it last month.
…Republicans’ biggest qualms are about provisions that make federal grants to domestic violence organizations contingent on nondiscrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender victims; rules extending the authority of tribal courts over domestic violence matters; and a section that would provide more visas for abused undocumented women who agree to cooperate with law enforcement.
This was back in March last year. Then it came up (finally) for a vote in the new Congress, and once again, Republicans “were against it.” Why? Oh, various reason. Besides the ones above, there were things like this:
“This is helping the liberals, this is horrible. Unbelievable. What really bothers – it’s called a women’s act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that – how is that a woman?”
“The House version included conscience clause protection language. However, the Senate version did not include these protections, and I could not support that version of the bill. As you know, the Senate version passed the House by a vote of 286-138.”
What “protection clause protection language” is Rep. Walberg referring to? It’s a clause that allows medical personal to refuse to treat victims of violence if it somehow violates their moral principles.
Or just political pandering for the future. In any event, the only votes against it were from Republicans. A key piece of legislation, which predominantly affects women, and Republicans decided to hold it up for almost a year, and then voted against it when it was finally brought to the floor.
That’s why the Republicans have a serious gender gap in national elections. They’re on the wrong side of the issues when it comes to women, and not just “liberal women.” The ideas are pretty simple and fair. You should receive equal pay for equal work. If you’re going to pay for erectile dysfunction in men, you should pay for birth control in women. Using birth control does not make you a slut or a prostitute. It’s not OK to beat women, or say that if they were raped, they either “deserved it” or if they become pregnant, it’s “God’s will.”
The message that Republicans have been sending women? That they’re second-class citizens. They’re supposed to be “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.” If they have a job, well, they should be grateful for what pittance they receive. Over and over again, the Republican officials on both the national and state level keep stepping on women’s toes. They seem to have forgotten that women vote, except when they claim that women shouldn’t. Because the message that Republicans keep sending through their actions is one that women don’t like, they walk into the voting booth and vote against Republicans.
The Republican document addresses some of this:
8. Republicans need to make a better effort at listening to female voters, directing their policy proposals at what they learn from women, and communicating that they understand what a woman who is balancing many responsibilities is going through. Too often, female voters feel like no one listens to them. They feel like they are smart, engaged, and strong decision makers but that their opinions are often ignored.
but the problem? The Republican Party shows every sign of continuing to ignore their opinions, while the Democratic Party is most definitely listening. That’s what the voting figures are telling the Republicans, but once again, it’s obvious: The Republicans just don’t understand women.