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“First They Must Take A Stand”: Who Can Save The GOP From Trump? Women

Donald Trump is the kind of man women are taught to avoid.

He’s arrogant. He blusters about physical violence. Listening is not really his thing, because his mouth is usually running full steam. And, worst of all, he has a special loathing for women who are intelligent, accomplished and not deferential to him. When challenged on this, he veers to smarmy protestations that he loves women.

These are the attributes of a toxic male acquaintance, boss or leader (not to mention husband or boyfriend).

This is not to knock his current wife, Melania Trump. She is everything that Trump wants women to be: unquestioningly devoted, strikingly gorgeous and willing to have sex with him.

Unfortunately for Trump, women who do not share this profile comprise virtually the entire female electorate. And that, in turn, is a problem for the Republican Party. Women are 53 percent of all voters, and Trump has a 73 percent negative rating among those who are registered.

Two questions present themselves: How much damage is the GOP willing to let Trump do to the party’s image with women? And what can it do to stand up to him on this issue?

This week, there was a sign that Trump has reached the limit of tolerance within his party. A recent convert to the pro-life point of view, Trump made a gaffe that embarrassed the entire movement when he busted out the idea that women who have an abortion should be punished if the procedure is ever outlawed.

No, no, no, Donald. One doesn’t say such things in public. Uncharacteristically, he retracted his remarks. Even he sensed it was a blunder on the order of the musings on rape and pregnancy that sank Republican frontrunners in two 2012 Senate races.

Add that screed to The Donald’s on-going attacks on Megyn Kelly, the putdowns of Carly Fiorina and so many other women who have dared to displease him, and it is easy to imagine a cumulative effect that spells crushing defeat in the general election if he is the nominee.

So far, the men of the GOP have been subdued in their response. Note the vile scuffle between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz over their wives. It wasn’t until Heidi Cruz was personally attacked that her husband reacted strongly and defended her, as he should.

One would imagine that at some point a cohort of leading Republican women would take a principled stand, calling out Trump for betraying the party’s supposed commitment to gender equality. But, alas, they’ve been eerily silent, apparently too fearful of crossing their party’s likely nominee.

Some, like Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, are in re-election campaigns and may fear losing support from Trump voters. (Comstock at least had the good sense to re-gift a $3,000 Trump donation to her campaign, buying a little bit of distance from him.) What a lost opportunity to stand up to sexism!

The Democrats will not waste the opportunity.

Recall the politically charged Senate judiciary hearings in 1991 to consider the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was controversial from the start, owing to Thomas’ positions on a range of issues. But when testimony was reopened — and televised — after disclosure of Thomas’ alleged history of sexual harassment, things exploded.

The hearings turned to belittling questions and overt displays of sexism by the panel of male senators, as they grilled Anita Hill, Thomas’ accuser, about her allegations.

Women were outraged by what they witnessed. As a direct result, they became politically motivated to increase their numbers in the Senate. The following year, four women — all Democrats — were elected to the Senate, tripling female representation in the chamber.

Women in Congress remain overwhelmingly Democrats. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the U.S. Congress is about 19 percent female. Of the 104 women, 76 are Democrats and only 28 are Republicans. Moreover, the women in Congress who have been given plum committee posts tend to be Democrats. In the U.S. Senate, there are only six Republican women, compared to 14 Democrats.

And although Republican women tend to fare well in state politics, their more moderate voices haven’t been able to make it through the increasingly conservative primary process to reach national office.

There couldn’t be a better time for women to demand a greater role — and be the voice of reason — in the GOP. They have a compelling pretext to halt a candidate who almost certainly will damage their party. And even if they cannot derail him on his path to the nomination, they may be able to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the election.

But first they must take a stand.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, April 1, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Women | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP’s New Class Of Jokers”: Meet The “Rising Stars” Of The Dumbest Rebrand Ever

To answer the questions Andy Kroll raised in his Wednesday Mother Jones piece exposing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a terrible shithead — yes, Martinez probably is the next Sarah Palin. And yes, Martinez is also, as Kroll points out, probably the next Chris Christie. Which is to say that she is currently being floated as a great savior of the Republican Party, even though she is terrible.

But while Martinez and some of the “young guns” being scouted by the National Republican Congressional Committee may make for some more demographically representative campaign ads, the policies they have built their careers on are pretty indistinguishable from the sea of white men who have been driving the GOP into the ground. And it’s these policies that matter most to the politically engaged and highly motived voting blocs — unmarried women of color, in particular — who are shaping contentious elections and whom the GOP so desperately want on its side.

A Wednesday report from Politico more than bears this out. While the assault on reproductive rights has certainly galvanized women voters, as Stanley Greenberg and Erica Seifert note, the economy and the social safety net are energizing them, too:

With women Democratic leaders in the House and the U.S. Senate taking the lead, we began to examine the surprising impact of focusing like a laser on the economy and advancing an economic agenda for working women. This agenda is popular among all voters, but it is especially powerful among unmarried women. Hearing that agenda increased the support for a Democratic candidate on our surveys, but much more important, it greatly increased their likelihood of voting.

[An agenda focusing on equal pay, family leave, the minimum wage and the social safety net] increases unmarried women’s likelihood to vote and increases the chance that they will vote for Democrats. In our surveys, after hearing this agenda and also the best policies and messages from Republicans, the two-thirds of unmarried women who say they were almost certain to vote increases to 83 percent. That math could make the difference in November.

Let’s dispense with Christie here — partly because his whiteness and his maleness kind of disqualify him from the “rebrand” the GOP is going for and partly as wishful thinking that his presidential aspirations are legitimately dead — and look at where Martinez and some of the female “young guns” being touted as the bold new direction of the party stand on the issues that have alienated so many from the GOP.

Democrats in recent months have been hammering Republicans hard on the minimum wage and equal pay, and it’s an issue on which Martinez has a mixed record. In March, she vetoed a bill that would have raised her state’s minimum wage to a meager $8.50 an hour. Defending her veto, Martinez chided state Democrats for trying to raise the $7.50 minimum by a whole dollar instead of the 30 cent increase she was in favor of. “I was clear with lawmakers that I support an increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico — one that would put us on a level playing field with neighboring states,” she said at the time, noting that because Arizona pays its workers poverty wages, New Mexico should pay its workers poverty wages.

And while Martinez did sign an equal pay law passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, it hardly gets her out of the “war on women” weeds or makes her an ally to working women. In a measure that was both offensive to mothers and victims of sexual violence (and bizarrely embraced the Todd Akin/Paul Ryan “forcible rape” talking point at its most toxic), Martinez proposed a measure to require women in New Mexico to prove that their sexual assault qualified as “forcible rape” if they wanted childcare assistance for a child born as a result of rape. (After an outcry from advocates in the state, Martinez withdrew the language.)

The “Young Guns” — a GOP recruitment program that categorizes its most promising candidates into “contenders,” “on the radar,” and “young guns” — don’t fare much better. Virginia delegate Barbara Comstock, currently running for Congress and considered “on the radar,” called equal pay measures a “left-wing agenda,” and denounced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as “partisan.” When debating access to later-term abortion in her state, Comstock declared there was “never” a health reason that a woman would need such a procedure. (This is totally and completely false.)

Arizona “young gun” Martha McSally, currently running for a United States House seat, wants to allow employers to deny their female workers birth control, and — like most of her GOP contemporaries — couches her defense of gender rating in insurance in the language of “religious freedom.” Mimi Walters, a “contender” in California, doesn’t support the inclusion of maternity coverage in health insurance. (How pro-family of her.) Utah “contender” Mia Love defended her party against the “war on women” label by arguing that the GOP — despite working feverishly to defund Planned Parenthood and roll back access to basic reproductive health services across the country — was the party of “choice,” because it wants “more free choice and more liberties” for all.

The names and faces may be unfamiliar to national audiences, but the policies are exactly the same. The hype around Martinez is following the same script that managed to convince the country that Christie is a “moderate.” The “young guns” are more of the same: an army of women who are beating the drum against reproductive rights, fighting equal pay in the states and pulling moves from the same tired playbook.

If it wasn’t such a cliché, I’d say something here about the GOP and the very definition of insanity.

If the party wants to stop its nose dive at the polls with all but an aging population of white voters, they should maybe try to find some candidates whose views and agendas aren’t so disdainful of and hostile to the voters they need to survive. It may also want to stop hailing bridge-burning assholes as the future of the GOP. That might help, too.

 

By: Katie McDonough, Salon, April 17, 2014

April 21, 2014 Posted by | GOP, War On Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Having Trouble Threading The Needle On Crazy”: When You Court Crazy Long Enough, It’s Hard To Put It Back In The Box

A fight brewing in Virginia’s highly competitive 10th congressional district shows just how tough it’s becoming for conservative Catholic candidates to move to the center to woo moderates when they’re beholden to a base that’s now as unhinged on contraception as it is on abortion.

Three-term state delegate Barbara Comstock is vying in a crowded Republican primary field to replace retiring Congressman Frank Wolf in a purplish district that stretches from the moderate suburbs of Fairfax Country to the still bright red reaches of rural Virginia.

The candidacy of the former Bush administration official was off to a strong start, with the backing of numerous GOP insiders, including fellow conservative Catholic Rick Santorum, and the state’s business community. But despite a solid anti-abortion record she’s coming under fire from the influential LifeSiteNews for joining in a request last year to the Department of Health and Human Services to make oral contraceptives available over-the-counter.

Now it should be noted that this wasn’t due to a sudden fit of moderation but of political calculation. It came one month after Bobby Jindal penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed saying that the Republican Party should “take contraception out of the political arena”—and by inference diffuse the “war on women”—by pushing for the Pill to be made available without a prescription. “I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control,” he wrote.

According to Jindal, it was the perfect solution. Women could get all the birth control they wanted and employers with religious objections to contraception wouldn’t be “forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others.” The only problem was, as women’s health advocates were quick to point out, women would have to pay for something they would otherwise get for free under their insurance and Jindal’s nifty little work-around did nothing to address access to expensive, long-acting forms of birth control, which would still require a prescription.

Motivation aside, the request won Comstock praise from conservative columnist Mona Charen in the National Review, who called her the model for fighting the “war on women” meme. “It’s hard to paint her as someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant when she advocates making birth-control pills easier to obtain,” she wrote.

But Comstock’s political ploy may have backfired. LifeSiteNews lambasted Comstock as a Catholic for promoting access to birth control, rehashing every conservative canard about oral contraceptives, from discredited claims that they cause breast cancer to everyone’s favorite far-right myth that the Pill is actually an abortifacient.

And disgraced former Bush “Catholic advisor” Deal Hudson joined in the fray with a column for Catholic Online in which he took Comstock to task for being insufficiently Catholic for voting against a measure to strip abortion coverage out of the state’s insurance exchange, which she claims was a procedural maneuver to register her opposition to ObamaCare.

The push back induced Austin Ruse of the truly wingnut Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute to call for an intraparty cease-fire on contraception in Crisis magazine, where he warned that fighting birth control was futile and asked, “Is Contraception the Hill We Want to Die On?

Even someone as far right as Ruse, who’s no stranger to crazy, grasps that attacking Comstock on birth control will destroy her ability to court moderates, but it just goes to show that when you court crazy for long enough, it’s hard to put it back in the box.

 

By: Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches, February 20, 2014

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Contraception, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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