Many women may divorce the GOP

By Jennifer Rubin October 17 at 10:15 AM Follow @JRubinBlogger
Female politicians and activists gathered outside of New York City's Trump Tower Oct. 17 to protest Donald Trump's language and alleged sexually aggressive behavior. (Reuters)

Donald Trump has managed to insult immigrants, disabled Americans, POWs and our collective intelligence. If you are college educated, a young voter or a minority you most likely find Trump to be entirely unfit for the presidency, if not crazed. But it’s women whom Trump has targeted more than any other group of Americans and who in turn have the greatest reason to flee the GOP.

Buzzfeed noted widespread anger among GOP women:

“If Trump’s goal was to help Hillary win and undermine the foundation of the Republican Party, it’s hard to think of what he’d be doing differently,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, former deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina.

“No woman needs Donald Trump’s assessment of their beauty and worth,” said Mindy Finn, a GOP strategist and Evan McMullin’s running mate. She added, “If [Trump] is not discredited, in a full-throated way, by every Republican with credibility, it will send the party into a tailspin for decades.” . . .

On Fox News Friday afternoon, Dana Perino tore into high-profile conservatives defending Trump, like Ben Carson and Jeff Sessions. “You know who you are,” she said, prompting some of her co-hosts to joke that her mic might get cut.

“Yeah,” Perino snapped, “because women should be seen and not heard, apparently. After 20 years of defending these guys, [I’m] done.”

She is in good company. Women like Marybeth Glenn, Amanda Carpenter, S.E. Cupp, and Liz Mair have all denounced Trump. The president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women resigned her post over Trump. Female governors like Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Nikki Haley of South Carolina as well as major donors like Meg Whitman have been stalwart critics of Trump. Carly Fiorina took on Trump during the primary and never made the mistake of endorsing him.

Democrats for years have thrown around the term “war against women,” which was premised on the notion that staunch opposition to abortion and to the liberal welfare state make one insensitive or hostile to women’s concerns. It was a phony label that capable Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardener (R-Colo.) easily batted down.

[The vast international conspiracy to stop Trump, in one chart]

Now the real war on women is on, but women are fighting back. Trump’s record over decades in demeaning, mistreating and insulting women was well known before the party nominated him. Not only the vocal apologists but party regulars, talk radio hosts (long a source of misogynistic smirking as evidenced by Rush Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke as a “slut”) and a whole slew of elected Republicans dismiss the women’s allegations out of hand. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is now part of the feeble spin factory, touting crazy theories and presenting ludicrous figures in an effort to debunk the women’s claims. From Reince Priebus to evangelical leaders the Republican establishment has refused to do the honorable thing, namely break with Trump and deplore thuggish treatment of women. Now they are engaged — as James Carville once described it — in the effort to portray the women as “nuts and sluts.” So much for family values.

Unlike their male counterparts, scores of elected women Republicans are in open revolt, as Five ThirtyEight pointed out last week:

Republican women have been far more likely to rally against Trump than the party’s men: 42 percent of all Republican women serving in Congress or as governor have now stated that they do not support Trump, versus just 17 percent of the men. . . .

In the U.S. House, 32 percent of Republican women are now opposed to Trump, compared to only 13 percent of Republican men. Rep. Kay Granger, the only Republican woman to have ever been elected to a full term in the U.S. House from Texas, is among the highest-profile defections.

Although Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) flip-flopped on whether Trump should leave the race, four of the six female GOP senators have pulled their support.

Among voters, women are abandoning Trump in record numbers. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll Clinton holds a 20-point lead among female voters (55 percent to 35 percent). According to CBS’s battleground state poll, “Last month the women’s vote in these key states was five points more for Clinton; today it is 15 points in Clinton’s favor – accounting for most of the swing, overall – and it even outweighs partisanship. Trump was at 84 percent among Republican women then, and has dropped to 77 percent today.”

If the GOP is going to be fumigated or replaced by a party free of Trump’s taint it may be GOP women — together with both male and female millennials — who lead the way. Evan McMullin, the 40-yr.-old independent conservative candidate, wrote on Oct. 10:

[I read Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs. Here’s what surprised me.]

When the news broke about the Access Hollywood video with Donald Trump and Billy Bush, it set off a level of criticism of Trump previously unseen in this election. I’m proud to be a part of a campaign team where our candidates have shown absolute moral clarity and zero hesitation in showing America where they stand. Evan and [running mate] Mindy [Finn] both have been unequivocal in their condemnation for Trump’s disrespect for his marriage vows and boasting of conduct that qualifies as sexual assault.

Some Republican leaders have taken this opportunity to not just denounce Trump, but to revoke any endorsement or state that no such endorsement would be coming. Unfortunately, far too many Republican elected officials have remained virtually silent, other than issuing statements that once again they did not approve of what Trump had done but still would support him.

The party’s disgraceful behavior should not be forgotten, nor should right-wing media be let off the hook. Republicans of good will should boycott Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends, where Trump’s accusers are disparaged while Trump is treated with kid gloves. (Who can forget the role Roger Ailes has played in convincing women that powerful GOP males are creeps?) While they are at it, Republicans should stop frequenting Breitbart’s website. It is home to alt-right racism, and also smeared its own reporter Michelle Fields in the incident with Corey Lewandowksi. Its former chieftain Steven K. Bannon gleefully leads Trump’s onslaught against his accusers.

After Trump’s thrashing on election day, right-leaning Republican women and male and female millennials (the most inclusive generation of Americans in history, one that assumes women should have equal opportunities) have a unique opportunity: Demand the wholesale resignation of the RNC officials, condemnation of those who flacked for Trump and a full gutting of the GOP. Simply on the party’s association with and promotion of a misogynist — the GOP should face a thorough housecleaning. If the GOP survives, it must undergo a wholesale transformation in message, leadership and priorities so ethical conduct, inclusion, civility and respect for fellow Americans are front and center.

If dramatic transformation proves impossible, these Americans — along with the horde of #NeverTrump Republicans — should aim to replace the GOP. The “Thatcherite Party” has a nice ring to it. Indeed, identification with the late prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s ideas-driven brand of conservatism rooted in middle-class values (grocer’s daughter, the upper crust sneered) and robust internationalism might be just the formula for the post-Trump era.


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