Cutting the Apron Strings between Women and the Democratic Party

It may seem unusual that the husband-and-wife team of Mary Matlin and James Carville have managed to carve successful careers in large part by being on the opposite sides of the political divide.  But the really big surprise is that she’s a conservative and he’s a liberal! 

Among married couples, it’s usually the other way around, a preference consistently reflected in polling data.  In fact, women of all ages 18 to 85 and within all major racial, educational, and marital-status segments of society are more likely to register as Democrats.  And the preponderance of liberal feminists in academia continues to prime the pump so that this gender gap persists into the future.  Democrats count heavily on the crucial support of women in order to win elections.  It helps, too, that women more reliably vote than do men.

Hollywood celebrity Rob Lowe once remarked that he was a liberal because, as an actor, he had greater “empathy” for the feelings and needs of others, the assumption being that Democrats are more empathetic and Republicans are, well, more pathetic.  This fallacy continues to drive party rhetoric, as it seeks to portray Democrats as compassionate and Republicans as combative. 

Naturally, women want to be seen coming down on the side of compassion.  That’s why Democrat campaigns are heavy on the emotion of “doing the right thing,” even if in the end it takes society down the wrong path.  For example, Democrat candidates rarely focus on issues like balancing the budget or easing the debt burden on future generations.  In their appeal to women, Democrats have had greater success with issues onto which they can slap a face of injustice or immediate need. 

Hillary Clinton, who lay low for a while, emerged from the shadows last weekend  and headed hand-in-hand with Bill to the Iowa caucuses, hoping for better results than she’d had in her last bid for the presidency.  After her usual coy act as to whether she is, indeed, running again, Clinton made a succinct statement to the effect that raising the minimum wage, making education affordable, supporting equal pay for equal work, and giving all people job opportunities is what her party is for – and the Republicans aren’t.    

That old tired rant got only a smattering of applause, illustrating how clueless a candidate – even an undeclared one – can be.  Hillary’s simplistic “bread-and-bitter” litany is usually what Democrat supporters lap up.  But in light of this administration’s disappointing record on those very issues, along with menacing dangers on the international scene, even women may not feel obligated to vote the party line.

As for the woman who wants above all else to the first female president of the United States, in her prepared remarks to Iowa delegates she said nothing regarding the Affordable Care Act, the unresolved scandals of Benghazi, the IRS , VA, etc.  Not a word from Hill about the ISIS/ISIL menace and the need to protect America from the threat of terrorism.  Nothing about the immigration mess and the growing fear that our borders will be breached not only by Central American kids, but by foreign killers. 

Perhaps the most promising embers of hope for the GOP’s appeal to women in the coming elections is that the predictably standard “feminine issues” have lost some of their punch.

Reproductive choice is for many women is the center of their core political beliefs.  Obviously, Democrats will continue to raise this issue, using scare tactics to tighten the tether.  This is particularly true for young single women, who are most viable and vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  But even among these women, there is a growing skepticism in over-hyping the “choice” of abortion, for the simple reason that, had their own mothers decided to do what was by then allowed by law, these young women wouldn’t be here today. 

Other proposals to push the reproductive rights envelope even farther are giving women pause.  For example, liberal San Francisco supervisor David Chu wants his city to ban any opposition to sex-selective abortions.  In China, this policy has resulted in creating a glut of boy babies and in preventing million of girl babies from being born.  As columnist Debra Saunders put it, “[s]omehow self-styled feminists have twisted support of the right to have an abortion such that it trumps women’s very right to exist.”

Another consideration is that couples are not marrying as young as they used to and hence are starting families later in life.  Or trying to.  But being past the prime child-bearing years, many women have encountered problems.  The contrast between the relative ease of abortion and the difficulty of conception is an irony not lost on these women. 

Another issue “claimed” by Democrats as a reliable selling point to women has been the party’s antipathy toward war and, in particular, further military involvement in the Middle East.  Yet here we are in the midst of gearing up again, whether it is called “war” or something else.  And on the economic front, women are finding out that the Democrat solutions to job creation and rising incomes have not materialized as promised.  With more and more women in the workforce, this shortfall is hitting home. 

A recent poll indicated that only 25% of women believe that the country is on the right track.  Fifty-three percent disapprove of President Obama’s job performance.  Even allowing for the vagaries of polling, this is still an encouraging sign.  Even former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is predicting a good outcome for Republicans at the November polls.  However, support will have to come from cutting some of the apron strings between women and the Democratic Party.  If there were ever a propitious time for that to happen, it is now!