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“RNC Starts A Losing Fight Over Pay Equity”: Which Strategic Genius In Reince Priebus’ Office Came Up With This Idea?

When msnbc’s Chris Jansing asked Republican National Committee Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski in April what policies her party would support to improve pay equity, Kukowski couldn’t think of anything. It was right around this time that the Texas Republican Party blamed women for the pay gap, saying women in the workforce would be better compensated if they became “better negotiators.”

It’s incidents like these that lead to discouraging results for the GOP: “A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups – including one backed by Karl Rove – paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as ‘intolerant,’ ‘lacking in compassion’ and ‘stuck in the past.”

But that was last week. This week, as Laura Clawson noted, the RNC has a new message.

Remember the one about the man who killed his parents, then asked for mercy because he’s an orphan? Well, chutzpah has a new definition. On Labor Day, the Republican National Committee tweeted the following claim: “This #LaborDay, the White House & Democrats believe paying women less than men is an acceptable practice.” […]

Staggering. Stunstonishing. Mind-blowing. I mean, if tweeting that graphic means that the RNC is ready to line up every Republican in or running for Congress and seriously press them to talk about equal pay, great. Because so far what we’ve got does not seem to support this statement even a little bit.

It’s hard to even know where to start with a claim this audacious. Does one focus on Republican opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Or how about the GOP killing the Paycheck Fairness Act?

Do you highlight the prominent Republican officials who worry about what pay-equity measures might mean for men? Or focus on the prominent Republican officials who see the debate over wage discrimination as “nonsense”? Or maybe remind folks about the prominent Republican officials who are convinced that “most of the barriers” women face in the workplace have already “been lowered”?

But perhaps the toughest question to answer today is, why in the world would the RNC pick this fight today?

It’s easy to assume the Republican National Committee is just poking Democrats with a stick for the sake of getting attention – the party, in other words, is just trolling – but this is the kind of move that undermines the RNC’s own interests.

After all, this election season, Democrats would be absolutely thrilled to have a big, post-Labor Day fight over which party is more committed to pay equity.

Now the RNC wants to start this fight on purpose? Which strategic genius in Reince Priebus’ office came up with this idea?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 2, 2014

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Policies And Attitudes, That’s Just How They Roll”: Why Republicans Can’t Solve Their Problem With Women Voters

I’ll give Republicans credit for this: they keep trying to figure out why their party remains unappealing to large and important groups of voters. They’ve been mulling over their problem with Latino voters for some time, and now Politico has gotten a hold of a study commissioned by some GOP bigwigs to figure out why women keep giving more of their votes to Democrats:

But in Washington, Republican policies have failed to sway women — in fact, they appear to have turned women off. For example, the focus groups and polls found that women “believe that ‘enforcing equal pay for equal work’ is the policy that would ‘help women the most.'”

“Republicans who openly deny the legitimacy of the issue will be seen as out of touch with women’s life experiences,” the report warned, hinting at GOP opposition to pay-equity legislation. It’s the policy item independents and Democrats believe will help women the most.

The groups suggest a three-pronged approach to turning around their relationship with women. First, they suggest the GOP “neutralize the Democrats'” attack that Republicans don’t support fairness for women. They suggest Republican lawmakers criticize Democrats for “growing government programs that encourage dependency rather than opportunities to get ahead.” That message tested better than explaining that the GOP supports a number of policies that could help fairness for women.

The last time a Republican presidential candidate won a majority of women’s votes was 1988, and it’s hard to see it happening again soon unless there’s a huge blowout. While it’s all well and good to investigate the issue to try to understand it in as much detail as possible, I have some bad news for Republicans: This isn’t a problem they’re going to be able to solve.

That’s because both their policies and their attitudes are working against them. It isn’t just that Republicans oppose reproductive rights, though that doesn’t help. And it isn’t just that they oppose mandating contraceptive coverage in insurance, though that doesn’t help either. It’s that when they articulate those policy positions and others like them, they can’t keep themselves from doing so in the most hostile, contemptuous ways imaginable. That doesn’t apply to all of them, of course; maybe not even most of them. But any debate about an issue affecting women in particular is 100-percent guaranteed to feature at least a few prominent conservatives, including those who have their own radio and television programs, saying loudly that the women who disagree with the Republican position are sluts and whores. That’s just how they roll.

Karl Rove can say to his compatriots, “Let’s ease up on the ‘legitimate rape’ stuff, fellas,” but unfortunately for him and the other people who spend time thinking about the GOP’s challenges, a party can’t speak with one voice. Whenever a discussion starts about an issue like equal pay, everybody gets to weigh in, from the most sober senator to the most rabid Tea Partier to the most hateful talk radio host. And since we now have a highly developed outrage industrial complex, the appalling comments will be repeated and distributed, ensuring that everyone hears them. And even when they aren’t being outright offensive, Republicans are more likely to communicate their believe in condescending, outdated gender norms.

All of which means that the idea that Republicans are none too friendly to women is constantly reinforced, in ways both substantive and emotional. If you’re a woman, you’re not happy when the Republican party blocks equal pay legislation. But when you then hear some of them try to argue that the wage gap isn’t really a problem in the first place, and maybe you should just be staying at home with your kids anyway, well that’s going to really piss you off. And having a bunch of GOP bros tell you that they’re the real pro-women party because they don’t want people to depend on government isn’t going to go too far to change that.

Now take all that, and imagine what the atmosphere will be like if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee in 2016. There will be a tsunami of misogynistic hate directed at Clinton, which we know because she’s always generated a particularly ugly brand of male sexual panic in conservatives. If she’s actually threatening to become president, it’ll be worse than ever. In the face of that, the Republicans who try to argue that their party has something to offer women voters are going to get laughed right out of the voting booth.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, August 28, 2014

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Republicans, War On Women, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Makes No Sense”: Why Do People Vote Against Their Own Best Interests?

This question has stymied political strategists and pundits for a long time. As an expert in the women’s market, I too am baffled by the way people, especially women, vote against those who share their ideals and values in lieu of voting for those who don’t.

I have frequently been asked and often pondered the question: “Why would a woman vote Republican when they clearly have a war on women?” I wish I had a great answer for this. Perhaps they have always voted Republican, and thus continue down this path. Perhaps they are wealthy and the tax breaks the Republicans fight for, that primarily benefit the rich, is the most important reason. Perhaps they believe the falsehoods and phony rhetoric of the Republican Party. Whatever the reason, I find it truly disturbing.

Both women and men should vote for elected officials whose actions show that they have the best interests of the citizens and country in mind, but for some reason, they don’t.

While I acknowledge that many Republican women are pro-life, offering choice, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, just makes good sense. I’m not advocating abortion; I am saying that I should have the choice to decide what is best for me and my family.

Equally troubling is why Republican women support a party who barely passed the Violence Against Women Act, who don’t support legislation to guarantee that a women receives equal pay for equal work, and who think women’s bosses should have the right to determine her health care and reproductive decisions.

As Republican governors refuse to accept billions of dollars in free federal money to expand Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people are going without medical care and are dying needlessly. As the GOP continues to cut billions from food stamps, many women and children are going hungry.

Men are also hurt by the policies of the Republican Party. Many men support the party because they are pro-gun, but Republicans also vote to keep the minimum wage at poverty levels and are against extending unemployment benefits. These policies hurt the working class.

Republicans want to reduce government spending and control, but I wonder if the populace realizes that many solidly red states that they live in receive a huge percentage of their income from the federal government? In actuality, the amount many red states pay in federal taxes is small compared to the amount they receive back from the government.

Do they think about how the government spends this money building the roads they drive on daily, or providing funds for the fire department that comes to their home if there is an emergency? When a natural disaster strikes them, do they accept F.E.M.A’s help? These and many more necessities are government-funded programs.

To cut spending on these and other projects as the Republicans suggest, would greatly impact both the men and women in these states in a very destructive way. It reminds me of the old saying, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” It makes no sense.

In reality, the Republicans don’t want to cut spending, just redistribute it from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. The Republican budget once again gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while it cuts programs and safety nets that help many of the people who vote Republican. I don’t understand why people vote against their own best interests, especially when it hurts their family, the economy and the principles on which America was founded.

I respect the two-party system and believe it is healthy for a democracy to have differences that exist in many areas of fiscal and social governance. But the right-wing fringe has hijacked the sanity of the Republican Party, and the GOP needs to get back on track. Gerrymandering, suppressing the vote, allowing unrestricted funds and unlimited terms have led to undemocratic practices which will destroy America if voters don’t stand up and fight for what is right.

Citizens, whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents, all have much to gain by voting for politicians who are interested in the good of the country: working together, listening to each other, and compromising. If they continue to choose representatives who do not support our fragile Democratic Process, citizens will soon have more reasons to fear Washington D.C. than foreign terrorists.

 

By: Gerry Meyers, CEO, President and Co-founder of Advisory Link;The Huffington Post Blog, April 21, 2014

April 23, 2014 Posted by | Elections, Republicans, War On Women | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Right’s New Racial Math”: How Its View Of Nonwhite Voters Got So Demented

The news is so depressing for conservatives these days. All the demographic trends are moving against them.With every election showing a large majority of single women, young people and people of color voting for the Democrats, thus solidifying their identification with the party, the less likely it is that Republicans can outrun the shift to a multiracial majority. But they still don’t seem to understand exactly what this means for them.

Take, for example, Michael Medved’s latest in the Wall Street Journal in which he explains that the Democrats’ strategy of wooing women voters by pointing out the GOP’s hostility to reproductive rights and equal pay is nothing but a sham. Sure, Barack Obama won the female vote by a commanding 11 points in the last election but it’s not as if he won a mandate for his message. After all, he lost the white female vote:

A closer look at the numbers reveals that Mr. Obama’s success with the ladies actually stemmed from his well-known appeal to minority voters. In 2012, 72% of all women voters identified themselves as “white.” This subset preferred Mitt Romney by a crushing 14-point advantage, 56% to 42%. Though Democrats ratcheted up the women’s rhetoric in the run-up to Election Day, the party did poorly among the white women it sought to influence: The Republican advantage in this crucial segment of the electorate doubled to 14 points in 2012 from seven points in 2008. In the race against Mr. Romney, Obama carried the overall female vote—and with it the election—based solely on his success with the 28% of women voters who identified as nonwhite. He carried 76% of Latina women and a startling 96% of black women.

The same discrepancy exists when considering marital status. In 2012, nearly 60% of female voters were married, and they preferred Mr. Romney by six points, 53% to 46%. Black and Latina women, on the other hand, are disproportionately represented among unmarried female voters, and they favored Mr. Obama by more than 2-to-1, 67% to 31%.

A similar pattern emerges among young voters, suggesting the president’s popularity among millennials also came from racial minorities, not any special resonance with young people. While nonwhites compose 28% of the electorate-at-large, they make up 42% of voters ages 18-29. Mr. Obama won these young voters handily—60% to 37%. He lost young white voters by seven points, 51% to 44%.

If the majority of women who vote for Democrats are young, single and black or brown, how can anyone say the war on women was a legitimate issue? True, those votes do come in mighty handy Election Day but let’s take a look at the reality: If young, female racial minorities couldn’t vote, the Republicans would win in a landslide!

I’m sure this makes them feel better. The right women are all on their side. Well, actually it’s just a small majority, even by that unfortunate standard: 46 percent of white women went with the Democrats so I wouldn’t be too sure that they’ve got them quite as locked up as Medved supposes.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard such embarrassing rationalizations coming from the Republicans after a loss. They often explain that they actually won — it was just all those young nonwhites who messed up the proper results. Take this one from Romney’s adviser Stuart Stevens who explained his boss’s loss this way:

On Nov. 6, Mitt Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters under 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift.”

There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?

It’s interesting how he assumed that none of the African-Americans, women and young people who voted for Obama are middle-class. But then that was the campaign that famously derided “the 47 percent” for being parasites so it’s not all that surprising. He also assumes that the “minorities” the Democrats are traditionally “too dependent” upon will not vote in future elections and thus deliver the presidency to the candidate who represents what are apparently the Real Americans: white people who make over 50K a year.

None of this is to say that studying the demographics of the voting public is unacceptable. It’s a big part of American politics, and slicing and dicing the electorate is how the two parties strategize their campaigns and that’s fine. But to constantly bring up the fact that Democrats can’t win if they don’t have the votes of racial minorities and young people implies that there’s something not quite legitimate about it.

As Politico helpfully spelled out for us in 2012:

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

Right. The popular choice of all racial minorities, unmarried women and urban whites of of all ages isn’t a mandate. It doesn’t include enough of the right kind of votes. You know, the best kind. The older, rural, married white kind. Also known as “Republicans.”

Michael Medved, at least, understands the GOP’s demographic challenge, even as he foolishly discounts the salience of issues that directly affect half the population, regardless of race or age. He counsels the Republicans to forget women and work harder to attract racial minorities. Here’s a tip, free of charge: A good first step would be to stop talking about their votes as if they aren’t quite as valuable as white votes.

 

By: Heather Digby Parton, Salon, April 21, 2014

April 23, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Minorities, Women Voters | , , , , , , , | 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

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