The Republican Party doesn't care enough about its embarrassing gender gap to invest in fixing the problem.
A GOP caucus full of mostly white men doesn’t seem to bother Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the man Republicans tapped to lead their 2020 House campaign efforts.
Emmer dismissed an idea from one of the few Republican women in Congress, New York’s Rep. Elise Stefanik, to use party money and endorsements to help more Republican women win their primaries.
“I think that’s a mistake,” Emmer said in an interview with Roll Call about Stefanik’s proposal. “It shouldn’t be just based on looking for a specific set of ingredients — gender, race, religion — and then we’re going to play in the primary.”
Emmer is the new chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which refuses to endorse or fund GOP candidates until after they have won their primaries.
Stefanik thinks that policy disadvantages women and other “nontraditional candidates.” Stefanik, as the NRCC’s first female head of recruitment, recruited over 100 Republican women to run for office — but just one of them succeeded in winning both the primary and the general election.
While a record number of women are headed to Congress next year, the number of Republican women actually dropped precipitously. Democrats will have 89 women serving in the House, while Republicans will only have 13 — which is 10 fewer women than they had this year.
But when approached with the idea that this is a systemic problem the Republican Party needs to actively invest in fixing, Emmer just brushed it off.
The GOP’s problems with women run very deep, and in recent years the party’s misogyny has emerged in some high-profile and ugly ways.
Republicans rallied behind Trump even after he admitted to being a serial sexual predator.
When Roy Moore was accused of molesting underage girls, the entire Republican establishment continued to support his run for the Senate in Alabama, including a vocal Trump.
After several women came forward with credible allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans enthusiastically elevated him to the Supreme Court.
Hostility to a woman’s right to make medical decisions for herself, including the decision of whether to carry a pregnancy or have an abortion, permeates the party at both the federal and state level.
The GOP has gotten so extreme on these issues that the group Republican Majority for Choice actually shut down, admitting that the GOP “has become a party that wants to punish pregnant women by limiting their economic choices.”
Democrats, on the other hand, have increasingly invested in elevating women to public office. EMILY’s List, a pro-choice Democratic women’s organization, has spent more than 30 years recruiting, training, and endorsing women to run for all levels of elected office.
Democrats elected the first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who will likely hold the position again in January 2019. And Democrats were the first major party to nominate a woman presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
It’s no wonder the 2018 election saw a massive gender gap in voting patterns. Women overwhelmingly sided with a Democratic Party that both respects and represents women.
But when the GOP meets, it might as well hang a “Boys Only” sign on the door.
And with Trump at the top of the ticket and people like Emmer deciding GOP campaign strategy, it’s likely women around the country will hear that message loud and clear again in 2020.
Published with permission of The American Independent.