That’s right, ladies, the GOP wants YOU!
It seems the Republican agenda – with its hearty War on Women, embrace of idiots like Limbaugh, Coulter, and Bachmann, and antipathy for social programs that help the poor, the ill and the elderly, issues women in particular are drawn to – has so thinned the ranks of women excited to call themselves “Republican” that the party has no choice: it’s time for a recruitment campaign.
What most women in the country already knew is now dawning on the right-wing women who appear to be stunned by the reality that the other girls just don’t like them. From Rollcall of June 21st:
When Rep. Renee Ellmers talks about what needs to happen to secure the future of the GOP, she tells a story she heard from a staffer who, while packing up the district campaign office after the 2012 elections, stopped to chat with a passer-by.
“The woman said, ‘I’m really glad your boss won,’” Ellmers recalled. “‘But I’m really glad I got to keep my woman’s rights.’
“And that really struck me,” the North Carolina Republican continued, “because it told me that there are women in this country, even in my own hometown, who do not think the Republican Party cares about women, that they would lose their women’s rights if they had a Republican president. … And I thought, ‘That’s really dangerous.’”
Well, hells, honey, we coulda told you that a long time ago!
And why wouldn’t women think that? The list of bills, medical limitations, reproductive restrictions, insults, sexist slams (how could we forget Sandra Fluke’s slut-shaming?), and misogynistic mandates (the push against the Lily Ledbetter act comes to mind) the Republican party has birthed is long enough to make any female feel like the most comfortable place a Republican can be is either in a women’s vagina or her pocketbook. And, as women are genetically wont to do, skilled after centuries of dealing with patriarchal men, they know when they’ve had enough to start heading for the door. And women have found the GOP door – the one leading out.
After Rep. Renee Ellmers made her above comments, she and 18 other Republican women got busy putting together the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, with an updated website and a perky Facebook page, both designed to focus on showing women that the Republican party likes them, it really likes them!
And upping the ante even further, the GOP gals, frustrated with “the stagnant number of women in its caucus,” have launched a new recruitment program called Project Grow, whose mission statement is as follows:
The name represents our mission –Growing Republican Opportunities for Women. This program is designed to promote the role of women within our party while encouraging more women to become an intricate voice in our American Democracy.
Directed by our Republican Members of Congress with leadership from our female members, Project GROW will empower women, engage female leaders on and off the ballot in the 2014 cycle and beyond.
The NRCC’s Project Grow will focus on various sectors including recruitment, messaging, polling, training for candidates, localized field events, fundraising, strong digital presence and harnessing the power of data to increase female voter participation. This is a long term effort to grow the already successful and remarkable group of women Members we have in the House as we work to expand our House Republican majority.
We are working overtime on this effort but we need YOUR help.
Overtime! Well, that’s quite the effort! A suggestion, though? Rethink the photos of a grinning Michele Bachmann in the lowest rung of pictures and Rep. Diane Black in the top; given their political controversies at the expense of women, their prominent placement might not be the wisest way to attract intelligent women to the party.
But Project Grow is just part of the effort; several other GOP women’s groups have united to get the job done. From ATR RollCall:
The “Women on the Right UNITE” effort is run by the Republican National Committee, NRCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican State Leadership Committee, College Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association. The goal is to help female candidates ascend to all levels of government.
It will be fascinating to see if Republicans can actually overcome their “brand” as the party of “old white men” who spend their time thinking of ways to restrict abortion, discriminate against LGBT families, and tear at programs designed to help children in need. They’ve got their work cut out for them, as Democrats captured the greater female vote after repeated GOP blunders on women’s issues (think Todd Akin and… actually, just think Todd Akin). In fact, despite the assurances from people like the controversial Rep. Diane Black that “our policies so well match what women many times are very concerned about” (really??), it’s clear to most women that this statement is not true. And, Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, remarked, Democrats don’t have to expend the energy to sell women on their party:
“The essential difference is that Republicans have to recruit women. All I have to do is answer the phone,” Israel said.
Women make up a much greater portion, one-third, of the House Democratic Caucus compared with the Republican Conference. Women make up 8 percent of the House GOP majority.
And the lopsided gender breakdown extends to the campaign trail.
Last cycle, 109 Republican women filed federal paperwork to run for the House: 48 won their primaries, including 21 incumbents, and 20 won their elections, according to a study from the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. (A post-election retirement left the House GOP women’s caucus with 19 members.)
By comparison, 190 Democratic women filed federal paperwork to run for the House last cycle: 118 won their primaries, including 45 incumbents, and 62 were elected. [Source]
Certainly there are many women in the country who do espouse the Republican party agenda, but it seems they’re not quite as feisty as their Democrat counterparts in getting themselves involved in the political process. Whether or not Project Grow and other recruitment efforts can inspire GOP women to greater enthusiasm for running for office or campaigning for others who do, is the big question. They’re certainly going to try. But as one state after another restricts a women’s constitutional right to reproductive choice, as women continue to be oppressed and abused in red states that reek of misogyny, and even issues like equal pay for women become footballs for Republicans in Congress, it’s hard to believe the party will have a recruitment rush when the doors open.
But we’ll see. Project Grow’s logline is, “Listen. Engage. Recruit. Motivate.” Lots of good words there. Let’s see what they mean to the women who might find the Republican party a place they’d consider calling home.