GOP Rep. Ellmers’ Promises Women Voters Nicer Tone And No More Pie Charts
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) stepped in it, last Friday and managed to get more on her when she tried to wipe it off. And it just shouldn’t have happened.
It happened at an under-advertised Friday afternoon panel put on by the Republican Study Committee, the House’s conservative caucus. It didn’t even make it to the RSC website.
Only one reporter was in attendance and that was Ashe Schow of the Washington Examiner who was covering a panel discussion on the Republican Party’s outreach effort for women voters. The GOP has entrusted that job to Rep. Renee Ellmers who heads up the Republican Women’s Policy Committee . . . a move that they might want to reconsider.
When Ashe Schow filed her report on Sunday, in an article about why the Republicans’ women’ narrative needs work, she cited, among many other things, Rep. Ellmers’ prescription that Republican men need to bring their policy discussions “down to a woman’s level” to get more female votes.
Whereupon, Rep. Ellmers responded with a statement containing the standard charge that Schow was a “liberal woman reporter” who had taken Rep. Ellmers’ words “completely out of context.”
It is a shame that such an important moment for addressing solutions and empowering women was used to attack the open exchange of ideas. In answering a question regarding how Republicans can improve their messaging, I took the opportunity to note that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences - and our messaging should do the same.
If there is a problem, who is perpetuating it? Was it a room full of women laughing, bonding and sharing solutions - or a liberal woman reporter attacking the event and taking it to a dark place that does not exist?
Well, actually, the joke was on Rep. Ellmers, because the boogeywoman “liberal reporter” is actually a fairly well known writer with impeccable conservative credentials, who has written for Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action and now is a reporter for the very conservative Washington Examiner.
Actually, I’d venture a guess that Ashe Schow was insulted by Rep. Ellmers’ words that took her to a dark place that does exist, in which inferior women must be talked down to by superior men. Men with complicated pie charts, if you will. She was offended at the notion that women might understand GOP policy ideas better if they come in a more accessible format, more germane to their lives as “moms,” perhaps a scrapbook format?
Obviously, Rep. Ellmers likes things to be “nice” with everyone agreeing on the life-enhancing rightness of conservative social policy. It was clearly beyond her ken that a conservative young woman would have the personal and professional integrity to disagree with Ellmers’ approach.
Indeed, in one of the funnier moments of this tense exchange, Ashe Schow published the full transcript of Ellmers remarks to demonstrate that she had not left out important relevant context; whereupon the Honorable Mrs Ellmers tweeted Schow’s link, to her world, to prove the opposite.
As it turns out, I almost wish she hadn’t because it afforded an opportunity to read the full transcript of Ellmers’ comments which infuriated me even more and demonstrated perfectly why Republicans have a “women” problem and how utterly incapable they are of addressing it.
It’s been my impression, over the past year, that GOP outreach to women voters doesn’t go much further than their own base. Again and again, they spend a few hours preaching to the choir then congratulating themselves that they have proven that “there is no war on women.”
For example, how many hours do you imagine that Rep. Ellmers or any of the other good ladies of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee have spent meeting with La Raza, or women in a welfare office, or unemployment line or Planned Parenthood office to find out what their views and needs are?
Rep. Ellmers’ own words just confirmed my impression:
I will tell you that definitely at chairing the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, that has been one of our main goals; is really working with our male colleagues. Tone matters. How you speak to people matters.
Republican men should talk about how they had wives, sisters, and daughters, Ellmers said; they should tell women that Obamacare “is hurting your family”
Trust me, Rep Ellmers, I’m a mother and grandmother and when something is hurting my family, I don’t need a lady wearing a red-white-and-blue elephant pin or men with female relatives to mansplain it to me, I know what it is and I take care of it as best I can. Likewise when something helps my family, I know what it is and where it came from.
Then Ellmers’ drops the bomb and I know, for certain, that she is living in a fantasy world and is in desperate need of an intervention:
Women, by and large, agree with us on all of the issues. If you go through each issue, they agree. It’s how we are able to articulate (sic) ourselves – make sure that we’re getting the point across that we care, before we do anything else. That we relate to them, understand what every woman in this country is dealing with.
Well, I’m sorry Mrs. Ellmers, I know that you value politeness, but you are just stark, raving mad if you truly believe that. Want me to prove it? With facts? I know that you don’t think much of charts but this one is pretty simple:
President Barack Obama won the two-party vote among female voters in the 2012 election by 12 points, 56% to 44%, over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Romney won among men by an eight-point margin, 54% to 46%. That total 20-point gender gap is the largest Gallup has measured in a presidential election since it began compiling the vote by major subgroups in 1952.
Obama’s campaign stressed maintaining the social safety net, raising taxes on the wealthy, maintaining abortion rights, and requiring healthcare coverage for contraception—all in contrast to Romney’s more conservative positions on these issues of potential interest to women.
Women have supported the Democratic candidate in each of the last six elections. That is not serendipitous; that is not a Republican failure to communicate. That is millions of American women getting up on a cold weekday morning and, while putting on their face, looking themselves in the eye and resolving to squeeze a trip to the polls into their busy, busy woman-schedules. And they also, increasingly over the years, resolve to vote for a Democrat because Democrats respond to their issues without having to learn to modulate their tones. They know that Democratic social policies are more resonant with the real world that they live in.
It’s not about tone. It’s about quality of life and safety and prosperity and having one’s representatives in government represent and respect everyone and insult no one. Please excuse me, I know this isn’t ladylike but Republican policies absolutely suck for most people, but especially for women, and no amount of articulation, dumbing-down or dulcet tones will make them more palatable, Rep Ellmers.
You know what would really demonstrate to me that you care about women’s issues? Stop voting against the Violence Against Women Act. That would be a good start . . .