And Someday...Blacks?

01.17.13

Danger!: Republicans Start Thinking About Women!

This TPM write-up is pretty comical about a Christina Hoff Sommers presentation to the Republicans gathered down in Williamsburg:

Hoff Sommers, an author and American Enterprise Institute fellow known for her attacks on the feminist movement, instead saved her most pointed criticisms Wednesday night for the older, male politicians who she said were alienating young women voters.

“We have some problematic allies,” Hoff Sommers said in her opening remarks. “Conservative leaders and funders, they don’t take women’s issues seriously.”

“I’m not sure what’s worse: conservatives ignoring women’s issues, or conservatives addressing them,” she said as the audience laughed.

But despite the joking tone, most women on the panel expressed exasperation that despite being 53 percent of voters in the last election, the Republican Party was failing to reach out to women. The event invite noted that women had voted for the president by an 11-point margin. Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at AEI, ran off a list of polling data about how women’s opinions lined up with Democratic principles more often than Republican ones. Though the night’s criticisms were not without references to failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin and the “stupid” things Republican men said over the past year, there seemed to be an agreement that the problem was more than just a few bad lemons who had ruined things for everyone else.

Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of IWF and a panelist, complained that Republican indifference to women’s issues was a problem she runs into. “I know sometimes when I go into a donor meeting and I see someone’s eyes just glazing over, like, ‘why would I care about women?’”

Broadly, the panelists offered some ideas for reversing this trend. They cheered the fact that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is part of the Republican House leadership and urged Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to “glue” her to him because the optics of having a visible woman in the GOP are important.

What's amusing here is that all the suggestions listed from this point on have almost entirely to do with optics and almost nothing to do with substance.  Someone bruits the idea that what women really cared about in 2012 was energy, not contraception, and the R's should have talked more about energy. Whatever. As I recall, Mitt Romney talked kind of a lot about energy.

These people are just amazingly out of it. The funders point is an important one. The left has the opposite problem in spades, which is that funders care only about particular causes (women's rights, civil rights, environment, etc.), and will usually give money to groups only if they vow to spend every penny on that cause. Whereas on the right they only care about two or three things--cut taxes, decrease regulation, stop the "moochers." So I would imagine they write checks on the right with fewer strings attached.

In any case, this can't help but be the beginning of a positive development, cuz here's what will happen. The GOP will try to woo women with a lot of symbolic nonsense. They'll see that that didn't work, and theyll wonder why. Eventually the reality will hit them that women aren't idiots, and that until they start actually addressing some substantive concerns, they're not going to get anywhere, and then (I'm talking 20 years from now, say) they'll be forced to start addressing those concerns, and then, even though they'll still be the Republican Party in name, they'll have been forced to transform themselves into a very different and altogether more tolerable party.