Women in Politics

women votersUntil 1980, during any Presidential election for which reliable data exist and in which there had been a gender gap, the gap had run one way: more women than men voted for the Republican candidate. That changed when Reagan became the G.O.P. nominee; more women than men supported Carter, by eight percentage points. Since then, the gender gap has never favored a G.O.P. Presidential candidate. The Democratic Party began billing itself as the party of women. — Jill Lepore

Historian Jill Lepore, writing in the June 27 issue of The New Yorker, discusses the history of women in politics. Lepore says that until the 1980s, women favored the Republican Party. This changed when the Republican Party, more or less deliberately turned its back on women.

Between 1964 and 1980, (Phyllis) Schlafly’s arm of the Party steadily gained control of the G.O.P., which began courting evangelical Christians, including white male Southern Democrats alienated by their party’s civil-rights agenda. In the wake of Roe v. Wade, and especially after the end of the Cold War, the Republican Party’s new crusaders turned their attention from Communism to abortion. The Democratic Party became the party of women, partly by default. For a long time, it could have gone another way.


With the end of the E.R.A., whose chance at ratification expired in 1982, both parties abandoned a political settlement necessary to the stability of the republic. The entrance of women into politics on terms that are, fundamentally and constitutionally, unequal to men’s has produced a politics of interminable division, infused with misplaced and dreadful moralism. Republicans can’t win women; when they win, they win without them, by winning with men. Democrats need to win both the black vote and the female vote. Trump and Clinton aren’t likely to break that pattern. Trump, with his tent-revival meetings, is crusading not only against Clinton and against Obama but against immigrants, against Muslims, and, in the end, against every group of voters that has fled the Republican Party, as he rides with his Four Horsemen: Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

So the G.O.P has come full circle from the party of equality to the party of exclusion. Along the way in lost the allegiance of many women including Hillary Rodham Clinton.




About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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3 Responses to Women in Politics

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    In the eighties many women were still homemakers with not nearly as much political interest as now. Male family influences still were still heavy on women’s votes. As more women joined the work force in the eighties, their awakening began, as to how truly unequally they were treated in most respects. Still having to have a husband’s approval to get a job, or have an abortion, or which politician to vote for were no longer physical or generic restraints holding women back.


  2. whungerford says:

    Nevertheless, Lepore writes: The Republican Party that is expected to nominate Trump was built by housewives and transformed by their political style, which men then made their own. The moral crusade can be found among nineteenth-century Democrats—William Jennings Bryan, say—but in the twentieth century it became the hallmark of the conservative wing of the Republican Party; it is the style, for instance, of Ted Cruz.


  3. Deb Meeker says:

    The style of politics in the eighties that Lepore writes about are indeed those that I mention. Driven by male dominance. The women who became prominent in political discourse where heavily on one side or the other. Phyllis Schlafly’s influence still felt today was driven by the backwards view that women belonged in the home only – of course except for Schlafly, who traveled the states giving lectures on how to be backward thinking. Gloria Steinem on the forefront of dissent, along with others started the great shift in women’s awareness.
    “In 1984, at the democratic convention held in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman nominated as vice president by a major political party. But women also experienced social obstacles and legal setbacks, which Susan Faludi, a Bay Area-based writer for the Wall Street Journal, critically examined in her 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Her work, which was originally as a series of investigative reports for the San Jose Mercury News, detailed the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment; the rise of the antiabortion movement, (a medical procedure legalized in a historic 1973 Supreme Court ruling); increased incidences of on-the-job sexual harassment and discrimination; increasing disparity between men and women’s income for comparable work; and the sense of exhaustion by working mothers who were expected to “do it all.”


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