Conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter, a CNN talking head who has worked as a high-level aide to Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Jim DeMint, published an editorial in Tuesday’s Washington Post castigating Republican men who have soft-pedaled Donald Trump’s misogyny while supporting his presidential run.
Carpenter, a reliably conservative voice who became infamous on Twitter a few years ago for her constant unvarnished support of whatever absurd and untrue sewage spewed from the mouth of her then-boss Cruz, is furious that the GOP’s male contingent — surprise! — does not have the power of its moral convictions. She wrote:
I can personally testify that Republican women have, for years, fended off accusations from the Democrats of the party’s allegedly anti-woman beliefs. What did we get for it? The nomination — by way of a largely older, male voting base — of a brazen and unapologetic misogynist.
She further wrote:
Why didn’t you defend women from this raging sexist especially after so many Republican women — for so many years — eagerly defended the party from charges of sexism? You must make us out for fools.
I am starting to think Trump’s election strategy involves getting all Democrats to die of schadenfreude before casting their votes.
A long-running article of faith on the right holds that liberals’ invocation of a conservative “war on women” is a cheap shot intended to smear all Republicans as sexists and misogynists. This argument, as liberals have been yelling for years, ignores that the phrase is intended as a critique of conservative policies that harm women — anti-abortion laws that place irrational barriers in front of a constitutional right, for example — and not a personal smear of men who favor those policies as sexists.
It is going to be hard to make that argument in the future — and not just for Democrats, if Carpenter’s editorial is any indication. When the GOP of the future wants to restrict a woman’s right to choose, exclude contraceptive coverage from Obamacare health plans and repeal the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, will Republican women be able to argue with a straight face that these positions are not indicative of an inner sexism and misogyny that runs rampant through the same GOP men who supported Donald Trump for president?
In the more immediate short term, however, the GOP embrace of this misogynistic bottle of spray tan looks likely to cost the party, uh, bigly. Polls have long shown a significant gender gap for Trump, fueled by his 17-month bender of sexist comments and outright violent rhetoric, starting at least with his infamous fight with Fox’s Megyn Kelly during the first Republican primary debate and running right through the leaking of the “Access Hollywood” tape that has made “grab 'em by the pussy” this election cycle’s “binders full of women.”
The GOP was already at a disadvantage with women because of its anti-female policies . . . and yes, those policies are anti-female and thus sexist, no matter what defenders like Amanda Carpenter said right up until the scales fell from her eyes. Now the combination of these policies and Trump are setting the stage for major gains for Democratic women. It is not just Hillary Clinton's becoming the first female president. As Politico reported on Tuesday:
Democrats are poised to win House and Senate seats that could easily bring the number of women to new levels in both chambers, along with potentially two female governors winning their first elections.
And Politico further observed:
Even a conservative guess at Democratic gains would push women over the 20 percent mark in the House for the first time ever, notable because the number of Republican women in the House has dropped from a high of 25 after the 2004 elections, while the number of Democratic women has continued to rise. In the Senate, wins could put the number of women at 25 percent.
As Politico made clear, Clinton’s plan has long been to try and drag as many women as possible into office with her no matter her opponent in the general election.
But Trump’s candidacy will likely help fuel a surge in the election of women at all levels of government beyond her original hopes. That's partly because even Republican women will cross the aisle to vote Democratic, a move that is probably more of a stinging rebuke to the men who run their party than it is a sudden affinity for liberal policies.
Still, whether they ever return to the Republican fold will, according to Carpenter, depend on the party's recognizing that it has a problem:
I know I am not alone. I am one of the many women the Republican Party left behind this election.
The GOP is about to learn a hard lesson when it comes to the women’s vote: defend us or lose us.
If there is one area where the Republican Party is not adept, it is in keeping up with a changed electorate, as its actions after the infamous 2012 postmortem have shown. With a majority of 53 percent of the population set to turn against it indefinitely, the party is either going to finally adapt — or it is going to die.