The story coming out of the primaries so far is that women are running for office in record numbers, that they’re doing it their own way, and that they’re winning. But that is only true for Democrats. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, only about 14 percent of Republican House candidates are women, compared with about one-third of Democratic candidates.
Here’s something Kate Zernike reports in an article about the challenge facing Republican female candidates, during the time of a woman-powered resistance:
“We’ve told a lot of women, ‘Don’t run this year,’” said Meghan Milloy, the co-founder of Republican Women for Progress, which helps to promote moderate female Republicans. “We’ve told them, ‘You’re a great candidate, if it were any other year you would win.’ We don’t want these women, who have such potential, to lose and get down and get out of politics.”
Personally, I’d love to hear more from Ms. Milloy about why these women with so much potential shouldn’t run for office this year. In some ways, it reminds me of what happened after the Republican National Committee released their 2012 autopsy suggesting that the party needed to do a better job reaching out to Hispanic voters. Their response, however, was to dig deeper into anti-immigrant sentiments and elect a president who launched his campaign by calling Mexicans criminals and rapists.
What Republicans could be doing at this point is crafting a message that actually resonates with women and encouraging them to not only join their party, but run for office. Instead, they are all but ceding the ground to Democrats and further entrenching themselves as the party of straight white men.
There’s one other thing I’d like to explore with Ms. Milloy–what she expects to change, given the current dynamics of American politics, that might lead to the possibility of talented Republican women running for office in the future.
Amid changing demographics this country and the fact that women are stepping up to claim their power, the Republican Party’s decisions these days don’t make any logical sense. Unless they change course, the best they can hope for is to delay their inevitable demise in the short term. That’s why it’s pretty clear that none of what they’re doing is a rational strategy. Instead, it is based on a fear of what happens when women and people of color are equal participants in the political process.