Wednesday, October 9, 2013

If Anyone Could Convince More Women to Become Republican, It's Beth Harwell

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 5:30 AM

Chas Sisk has an interesting story about Republicans and women over at the Tennessean.

With Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell taking a lead role, an affiliate of the Republican National Committee has launched an initiative to find women to stand as GOP candidates. Republican women from around the country gathered in Nashville last month to trade insights on recruiting and supporting their peers.

The Tennessee Republican Party has done a very good job of supporting female candidates and promoting women into leadership positions once they get elected. But let's also be clear, they've also been very lucky to have Harwell — who's charming, funny and at ease in any situation, while retaining the ability to be scary as fuck when she needs to be. If Republican leadership were the A-Team, she's Hannibal, the amiable badass. (Okay, quickly — Ron Ramsey is Murdock, the kind of crazy dude whose piloting the crew; Tom Ingram is B.A. Baracus, the not-quite-regulation muscle; and the Governor is Face, whose job is mainly to be pretty and not get in the way.)

You're not going to find many people — male or female — like Beth Harwell. But, like Hannibal, I'm sure she's very convincing when she's recruiting people.

But I thought it was really interesting the reasons why more women aren't Republican:

“Women, as well as men, tend to be in favor of abortion but want more restrictions,” said Susan Carroll, a senior scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for the American Woman and Politics.

The differences between men and women are wider on several other issues, including some that are prominent on the public policy agenda in Washington.

Women are twice as likely as men, for example, to say that only authorized personnel should own guns. On the flip side, only half as many women say there should be no restrictions whatsoever on gun ownership.

Women also are more likely to favor letting illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children remain in the country. Women favor same-sex marriage more than men do. And women are more likely than men to favor government assistance to the poor and unemployed.

I think there's an important reality here. When social services fall short, most people's first instinct is not to go to churches or charities — it's to go to their families. When elderly people can't make it on their own and the government funds they thought they could rely on aren't there, they move in with their kids. When people can't get the healthcare they need, some woman is going to end up nursing them the best she can.

And who still bears most of the responsibility for the household? Women. It's very easy to think that the woman in front of you buying 13 2-liters of Mountain Dew with food stamps shouldn't be getting food stamps when you don't know her. When it's your sister-in-law and you know whose fridge she's going to be raiding if she gets kicked off the dole, you figure it's better for her to cheat the government than to mooch off you.

For women, the identity of just who has to pick up the slack when the government doesn't or can't provide a safety net looks just like the face we see in the mirror. All that rhetoric about people being a burden to taxpayers? How can it ring true to the people who would actually be burdened by the collapse of our safety net?

If Republicans want to bring more women into the fold, they have to find a way to not make having Republicans in power suck so bad for women.

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