Some progressives have decided that rather than convincing women that their candidates and policy proposals are better than those of conservatives, they will shame women who fail to vote for the Left by defining them all as racist and self-loathing tools of the patriarchy.
Think I’m exaggerating?
See this from the Guardian’s op-ed entitled “Half of White Women Continue to Vote Republican. What’s Wrong with Them?”
What is wrong with white women? Why do half of them so consistently vote for Republicans, even as the Republican party morphs into a monstrously ugly organization that is increasingly indistinguishable from a hate group? The most likely answer seems to be that white women vote for Republicans for the same reason that white men do: because they are racist.
This article echoed Vogue’s post-midterm-election lament, “Why Do White Women Keep Voting for the GOP and Against Their Own Interests?”
Are they so invested in their own white privilege that they simply don’t care about other women? Are they parroting their Republican husbands and/or brainwashed by Fox & Friends? Maybe and maybe.
Brainwashed. Unsisterly. Traitors. Racist.
These are the labels being pushed on Republican women not just by leftist party activists, but by supposedly nonpartisan entertainment outlets. People don’t turn to Vogue for political commentary, just as they don’t turn on the latest television crime drama for a lecture about gun control. But that’s what’s served up. This subtle societal backdrop, caricaturing conservative women not just as wrong, but as inherently vile and cruel, encourages Democrats to feel just in shaming, silencing, and marginalizing them. So much for the Left’s mantra of “Make YOUR voice heard.”
Waiting for back-to-school night to begin, while exchanging names and pleasantries with parents of my daughters’ new classmates, I would never have brought up politics, and I carefully neutered descriptions of my employment to avoid revealing any ideological leanings. Yet the woman next to me felt no similar limitations and quickly offered a profanity-laced opinion of the president. A few laughed agreeably, offering their own digs not just about Trump, but about conservatives more broadly. I simply disengaged.
I suspect many right-of-center women have had similar experiences. This is a problem, not just because it silences people, but because increasingly women on the left seem to have no actual contact with women outside of their own ideological bubbles. They can’t fathom why, other than racism and sexism, some women reach different conclusions about politics and policy issues.
In this, conservative women have an advantage, since we have been steeped in a culture that showcases the world from the perspective of the Left. I know why my progressive friends vote Left. I know that they hope that greater redistribution and more government oversight of everything from guns to education and health care will lead to fairer outcomes. If you attended a public school, chances are your teachers were liberal and shared their political opinions frequently. If you went to college, it’s a near certainty that your professors were almost uniformly liberal and exposed you to the liberal worldview. If you open a women’s magazine or watch essentially any TV drama, the liberal worldview will dominate.
The conservative worldview is harder to find unless you specifically hunt for it in explicitly political vehicles or religious-themed programming. This has allowed much of the Left to assume that everyone who votes Republican supports the most extreme fringe perspective offered by anyone on the right or fits the cartoonish stereotypes of conservatives presented on liberal programming.
Progressives need to have more opportunities to walk in conservatives’ shoes. Just as conservatives give liberal women the benefit of the doubt that they are against the violent, racist, misogynistic elements of their party, progressives should consider that women who vote Republican may actually believe that their policy platform is the best path forward for the country. Republican women may have concluded that unnecessary and ineffective government regulations and programs often backfire on the very people they are meant to help. They really believe that lower taxes and a small government lead to better jobs, prosperity, and opportunities for all Americans. They want parents to have more control over where their children go to school and what kind of health insurance they buy. Furthermore, they may object to what seems the Left’s dehumanizing hostility to straight white men, Christians, and other women who hold contrary opinions. We think that animus toward these groups is as wrong as it would be to any other group, and we want all people treated respectfully, as individuals.
It’s become a cliché to say that we need more civility in politics. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Certainly, there is plenty of blame to go around for how we have gotten to where we are. But the Left should consider how the shaming and demeaning of women who don’t agree with them is making our country worse, and exhibiting the same prejudice that they purport to abhor.