March 11th, 2012, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
This article is very telling - Republican women are now upset by the GOP's 13th century mindset on women's health and contraception:
| http://www.nytimes.c...?pagewanted=all |
As baby showers go, the party Mary Russell attended to celebrate her niece’s first child was sweet, with about a dozen women offering congratulations over ice cream and cake.
But somewhere between the baby name game and the gifts, what had been light conversation took a sharp turn toward the personal and political — specifically, the battle over access to birth control and other women’s health issues that have sprung to life on the Republican campaign trail in recent weeks.
“We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago,” said Ms. Russell, 57, a retired teacher from Iowa City who describes herself as an evangelical Christian and “old school” Republican of the moderate mold.
Until the baby shower, just two weeks ago, she had favored Mitt Romney for president.
Not anymore. She said she might vote for President Obama now. “I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations,” Ms. Russell said. As for the Republican presidential candidates, she added: “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”
In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy.
And in what appears to be an abrupt shift, some Republican-leaning women like Ms. Russell said they might switch sides and vote for Mr. Obama — if they turn out to vote at all.
The sudden return of the “culture wars” over the rights of women and their place in society has resulted, the women said, in a distinct change in mood in the past several weeks. That shift adds yet another element of uncertainty to a race that has been defined by unpredictability, at least for Republicans.
To what extent women feel alienated remains unclear: most interviews for this article were conducted from a randomly generated list of voters who had been surveyed in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, and their responses are anecdotal, not conclusive. But the latest comments from the Republican candidates and in the right-wing media, aimed at energizing the party’s conservative base, have been enraging to some women.
After the talk show host Rush Limbaugh denounced a Georgetown University law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage of contraception, some women were critical of Mr. Romney’s tepid response.
Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania who is one of Mr. Romney’s rivals for the nomination, created a tempest late last month by speaking out against prenatal testing. Earlier comments about women in combat and the role of “radical feminism” in encouraging work outside the home also left some women ill at ease.
“Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks,” said Fran Kelley, a retired public school worker in Seattle who voted for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama in the 2008 election. Of the Republican candidates this year, she added, “They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ ”
She continued, “If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”
From 1992 to 2008, Democrats won the overall women’s vote in every presidential election.
But in the 2010 midterm election, women swung to the Republicans. Now there are signs of another shift: in a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, the president finished ahead of Mr. Romney among all women by 57 percent to 37 percent. He held much the same advantage over Mr. Santorum.
But how moderate Republican women gauge social issues as a factor in voting is unclear. Nor have there been many women at the Republican primaries who consider themselves moderate.
Last week Joyce Kimball, a retired secretary in Greenville, Ill., who voted for Mr. McCain in 2008, said she had recently become “fed up,” adding that it was not out of the question for her to vote for a Democrat in November. “I’m looking to hear how the candidates propose to put people back to work, not what they think about contraception,” she said. “I hope to God they stop talking about this.”
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the party intended to focus on women’s issues as they relate to the economy to win in November. “It’s the kitchen table issues, the cost of milk and gas,” she said. “That’s what we are going to be talking about.”
Even more than Mr. Romney, Mr. Santorum has made himself a champion of the traditional family with two parents, arguing in speeches that single motherhood increases a child’s chances of poverty and related problems.
The stance particularly vexes Meredith Warren, a Republican strategist in Andover, Mass. “Well, guess what?” she said. “There are a lot of single moms out there. That’s reality. I don’t think he does himself any favors denigrating that situation.”
Ms. Warren said her job had not been made any easier lately. “A lot of my younger friends are Democrats, and it’s hard for them to understand how, as a woman, you can be a member of the Republican Party,” she said.
Deborah R. Stevens, a self-described “dyed in the wool” Republican, said she felt hopeless.
“I’m looking for a candidate that will be honest, that will come out and say, ‘Yes, I support women, I want you advanced and not trampled upon,’ ” said Ms. Stevens, 63, who lives near Myrtle Beach, S.C. “I want answers desperately. I want candidates to tell me, ‘I’m not overturning Roe v. Wade.’ It’s there. Leave it there.”
Ms. Russell, who changed her political views at the baby shower, said she was impressed with how Mr. Obama handled his administration’s compromise over the much-debated birth control policy, saying, “I think he’s more of a women’s candidate.”
Mr. Romney’s reaction to Mr. Limbaugh’s statements about the Georgetown student cemented a negative view of him. “I expected him to have the guts to stand up and say what Rush did was wrong,” she said. “Wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word wrong.”
A rally for women’s rights in San Diego on Thursday drew Jessica Lopez, 27, a registered independent who said she voted for President George W. Bush in 2004. Ms. Lopez said her choice this year became clear amid the Republican debate on contraception and abortion. “This has really energized me, that I need to get more involved with the Obama campaign,” she said.
Ms. Lopez added: “The G.O.P. has never been so clear about their agenda for women. I’m afraid if we get a Republican president, my health will be up to their personal discretion.”
Based on the discussions with conservatives I've seen on DTT, it's clear that conservative men in general are incapable of understanding how important this issue is. They'll cling to their regressive anti-sex, anti-women views, and not even dimly recognize what it's doing to the viability of their party.