The 113th Congress made history in its first day by having more women in its ranks than ever before. It’s hard to argue that more women elected to office is a bad thing, but the Independent Women’s Forum is doing just that.
Executive Director Sabrina Schaeffer said in a statement that the increase of women in office is a step backwards for this country because the women elected are mostly Democratic women. “While a lot is being made about the record number of women joining the Senate, the reality is the majority of these women are Democrats – 16 of the 20 – and as a result we are likely to see higher taxes, bigger government, and less freedom,” Schaeffer said.
Conservative women like Maine Senator Susan Collins pushed back against Schaefer, stressing the importance of electing women because they bring different perspectives to problems government must tackle. “I always push back the idea that there are women’s issues. Because every issue from war to taxes to education affect women in this country. And that’s why the point of having women be represented on all committees and leading many of them is so important,” The Hill reported.
The divide reflects a growing rift in conservative circles about just how to deal with the reality that only white men readily identify as Republican, a fact that doesn’t bode well for the future of the conservative movement. In particular, conservatives are coming face-to-face with the consequences of demonizing women and courting only the most racist, misogynistic element of the right. If the party is to survive, it must take Collins’ lead and embrace reasonableness.
But can a party that enshrined in its platform fetal personhood and a return to the criminalization of abortion even do this? No. But that’s not going to stop its message machine from insisting it can.
During the 2012 legislative session and presidential campaign, radical anti-abortion, anti-woman rhetoric dominated the talking points of the Tea Party right. The result was an electoral embarrassment for the right. Just two months later and TIME magazine, in commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade declares that pro-life is a feminist position in a piece clearly designed to re-brand the conservative movement to a population of women that have largely abandoned it. Never mind the story runs as Republicans in the House again introduce legislation to strip Planned Parenthood from Title X funding at the very start of the legislative session.
The point is, Shaefer’s statements reflect the heart of conservative leadership while Collins’ reflect the image the conservative leadership is hoping to project. It’s an intentional exercise in deception we can expect to see through the midterms in 2014. Don’t be fooled.
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