Paul Waldman: GOP Can’t Close Gender Gap As Long As Conservatives Call Liberal Women ‘Sluts and Whores’

The Trotskyist-turned-conservative writer James Burnham said that where there’s no solution, there’s no problem. In a Thursday post, American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman analyzed what he considers one such situation: the Republican party’s ongoing shortfall with female voters.

Waldman doesn’t see how the GOP can overcome both its ideas and its tone on women’s issues. He asserted that when Republicans discuss their opposition to abortion and the contraceptive mandate, many of them “can't keep themselves from doing so in the most hostile, contemptuous ways imaginable.”

From Waldman’s post (emphasis added):

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…

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.


…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 belie[f] in condescending, outdated gender norms

…[I]magine 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.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters