What 2014’s Victories From GOP Women Taught Us

What 2014’s Victories From GOP Women Taught Us

Yes, it was a great election night. Finally. No doubt, the experts will have plenty to say about what this election portends for President Obama’s unfinished agenda, and for conservatives’ hopes to fix what ails our nation.

The smashing victories of the GOP’s female candidates, however, make this a teaching moment—for the media and GOP leaders—about women, the electorate, and the issues.

Here’s a quick take on some initial lessons learned from the victories of GOP women.

For the media (please adjust your stylebook accordingly):

1)     “Women” does not equate to “liberal women.” Conservative women are women too. (Example: Don’t say “women voters” when you really mean “liberal women voters.”)

2)     Delete “women’s issues” from your lexicon. (Note: “women’s issues” is a misnomer for the demeaning “lady parts” agenda of liberals who think women’s priorities begin with birth control and end with abortion.)

3)     Ditto the meaningless “war on women.” (See the losing campaigns of “Mark Uterus” and John Foust.)

4)     Do not say “women’s rights” when you mean “abortion rights.” (Iowa Senator-elect Joni Ernst and Virginia Representative-elect Barbara Comstock champion issues important to women—and passionately oppose abortion. Losing candidate Sandra Fluke champions abortion rights, not the rights of liberty-loving women.)

5)     To take the pulse of women voters, try interviewing ordinary, hard-working women. (Hint: They don’t loiter in pricey Manhattan gyms or at glitzy Democrat fundraisers in Los Angeles. Try the grocery store, in flyover country, at the end of a long workday.)

For the GOP:

1)     Recruit more women candidates, because talent and tenacity win. In the spirit of David running out to meet Goliath, the GOP’s victorious female candidates are a spunky and stouthearted lot. They fought hard. But they won because they were better candidates, across the board, than their Democrat opponents, men or women.

2)     Recruit more women candidates, because optics matter. In the House of Representatives, Democrat women outnumber Republican women by three to one. In the Senate, Democrat women outnumber Republican women by almost four to one. By sheer dint of numbers, it’s not hard for Democrats to project the message that they listen to and empower women and that “woman-friendly” policies will emerge from the Left, not the Right. But simply because of who they are, female GOP standouts—like Shelley Moore Capito, senator-elect from West Virginia—can parry the “war on women” silly talk and frame pro-growth policies as demonstrably pro-woman.

3)     Recruit more minority women as candidates. Women like Mia Love (Utah) are powerful messengers of the GOP ideals of opportunity, liberty, and fiscal responsibility.  They can gain a hearing for, and sound the right pitch on, GOP core principles in front of audiences who would otherwise be tone-deaf to Republican candidates.

4)     Stand firm on principle, which means stand firm on social issues. They are winning issues for the GOP, and pro-life female candidates, like Barbara Comstock, make no apologies for their positions. While Americans seesaw back and forth by a few percentage points over whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, they consistently say abortion is immoral. The voters hold principled beliefs. The GOP should, too.

Mary Rice Hasson is an attorney and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC.
Photo Gage Skidmore / Flickr
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