Oh, Republican Women Are Having A Hard Time These Days, Are They?

Today in Politico: an article all about how super tough it is being a Republican woman these days, what with the fact that liberal women don't "support" them, and also the men in their own party prefer to vote for men. This bed they made sure is uncomfortable!

The article is titled 'A difficult situation': Republican women run in the Trump era" -- and subtitled "If this is the 'year of the woman,' GOP women on the ballot aren't feeling it." Oh gosh, why might that be? Could there perhaps be a downside to belonging to a club that doesn't want you as a member?

Let's Wonksplore!

We start out with the very sad tale of Martha Roby, who "stood up" to Trump before he was elected -- or, at least, said she wouldn't vote for him -- and now "has" to kiss his ass in order to keep her job. What is a girl to do?

"I cannot look my children in the eye … and justify a vote for a man who promotes and boasts about sexually assaulting women," the mother of two said in the fall of 2016.

Needless to say, her constituents — many of them Trump-loving Southern men — didn't like that much. Roby quickly changed her tune after Trump won the presidency, unfailingly praising him and his policies as she went on to survive a primary runoff Tuesday that almost ended her career.

Roby's plight highlights the unique challenge Republican women face campaigning for office with Trump in the White House. While their female Democratic counterparts have benefited politically from going against the president on women's issues, GOP women don't have the same luxury.

That luxury? That luxury? I would hope, sincerely, that any Democratic woman -- or man -- in Congress thinks of going against Donald Trump not as a fabulously convenient luxury that will benefit her political career, so much as an obligation and a sincerely held belief that he is an absolute monster.

One congresswoman explains:

Retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who called Republican women an "endangered species," was blunter: "The base is with Donald Trump, and he can do no wrong. […] He's going to be hanging on you like an albatross around your neck. Ugh! It is a real knot for female candidates."

Call me crazy, but I think I know of a solution to that! It is, you know, not belonging to a party led by a man who thinks sexual assault is adorable and charming "locker room talk." Or, you know, at least not voting with him the majority of the time, as another Republican woman has.

"There are ways of disagreeing without being disagreeable … of doing it without making it personal," said Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, one of the most outspoken women in the House GOP Conference, who frequently votes with the president. "A lot of it is in the approach."

As we all know, the most polite way of "disagreeing without being disagreeable" is to just agree with everything a person does. Obviously!

The balancing acts come amid a record-breaking year for women seeking public office. More than 123 Republican women have filed to run for Congress, three times as many as in the previous cycle, according to Wagner, a deputy National Republican Congressional Committee chair.

Still, the energy surrounding female candidates is predominantly on the left side of the political spectrum. Some Republican women say they've struggled to ride the wave of empowerment that their Democratic counterparts have.

This "wave of empowerment" did not come out of thin air. It was not any "Rah Rah Generic Sisterhood!" Spice Girls Girl Power thing. It came about because women and their allies were and are legitimately scared to death by this president, his agenda, and his pussy grabbing ways. Reproductive rights are at risk, trans women and men are already losing rights, immigrant women are being torn from their children, and a black woman cannot even use a damn coupon at CVS without Baby Huey of the Log Cabin Republicans calling the police to come protect him.


If the worst outcome of Donald Trump's presidency for you is that you do not get to "ride the wave of empowerment" that started out of opposition to him, because you support him, then you are doing a lot better than the rest of us.

Some conservatives said the women's movement has discriminated against conservative-minded female candidates. [Rep. Cathy] McMorris Rodgers said female business owners in her district have lost clients because they've endorsed her. In response, she created a new group in her district for politically like-minded women.

"For many that are on the left, if you don't agree with them 100 percent, then you're 'anti-women,'" she said in an interview. "Because I'm a Republican, that it's almost like I'm dismissed or [my work for women] doesn't count."

Well, Cathy, we know that you have been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage over the years, and that you have also opposed laws meant to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination ... so it is at least fair to say that you are anti-lesbian and anti-trans women. We know that you have voted to defund Planned Parenthood and oppose abortion, so you're anti-women who would like to exercise their reproductive rights. That's a lot of women! If you have "dismissed" those women, Cathy, then is it not fair for them to "dismiss" you?

Of course, it's not just the mean lefty ladies who won't let them ride the wave of empowerment by voting for them and also against their own interests, it is also the fact that men in their party seem to be kind of sexist! Weird!

"For the men, it is a challenge for a lot of them," said Rep. Kristi Noem, who's running for governor of South Dakota, a state she referred to as "a good ol' boys club." "For some reason, they were willing to vote to send a woman to Congress for years, but to put a woman in the governor's office, it's very different."

She added: "I didn't anticipate that being an issue. And we think, in our primary, we lost several points because of that."

Oh gosh, who would have anticipated that, besides anyone who has ever paid attention to anything, ever.

Of course, then there is the conundrum of what to do when "unfairly" confronted about something Donald Trump does or says that women aren't so keen on:

Beyond feeling left out of the women's movement at times, Republican women are often forced to answer for Trump — a reality they find unfair. When confronted with questions about something Trump has said or a policy he's implemented that is especially unpopular among women, they try to pivot.

"I say, 'I'm focused on results,'" [Rep. Mimi] Walters said when asked in May how she responds to questions about Trump's tone toward women. "That's the most important to me, the results."

Walters said she sees an "opportunity," where some would see a problem, "to really connect with this group of women where the president is not as well liked."

"We can be the face of the party to say, 'Hey, these are policies that we're implementing with our president, and we support him and ... and we're just like you.'"

There are lots of things in life that are unfair. I am sure that the women affected by having to back "something Trump has said or a policy he's implemented that is especially unpopular among women," feel that those things are unfair. You know what is not unfair? Expecting grown adult elected officials to answer for shit the leader of their party is doing. Especially when they support him and those policies! In fact, it is a pretty big part of their job.

But no, Mimi, no. You are not just like us. If you were "like us," you would be screaming in horror every day.

It is fair to say that literally every other woman in America is having a worse time right now than these Republican women are, and yet they have the gall -- the utter gall -- to be sad that we are not cheering for them.

There have always, always been women working against women. Women, in fact, made up the majority of the anti-suffrage movement. Then, you know, there was Phyllis Schlafly. They were not our friends, and you, Republican women of today voting with Donald Trump and feeling real bummed that you are not benefiting from a movement created in opposition to him, are not our friends either. Our friends are those fighting him. And if, in the true spirit of Girl Power, you wanna be our lover, you gotta get with our friends.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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