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How Conservatives Lost Women Voters

Late last year when a presidential primary candidate was asked how he was going to reach women voters, he responded that he was polling well with women. Oh, oh. He seemed clueless about what most women really want. Once again, women were being taken for granted and once again we could lose – big time. And lose, we did.

Reaching women is not a new concept. The importance of our vote should be well-known, as women have registered and voted at a higher rate than men since the 1980.

One would think every campaign would have a proven strategy by now. While I don’t claim to speak for all American women, no doubt many of us rolled our eyes and sighed or cringed at some of the conservative candidates’ messaging. We may not relish the haranguing and rudeness, but we are willing to ignore it if our candidate can clearly articulate how his positions and plans will improve life for us and our families.

Candidates cannot treat women like we matter just to get our vote. Women can spot a phony – we have experience. They cannot take us for granted, or treat us like a bunch of airheads who will fall for a good line. Instead of telling us what we should think, they should pay attention to not only what they say, but also how they live – 24/7/365.

Developing consistent, conservative messages that resonate with women of all ages is important, but it is just as critical for candidates to start living like they believe those messages, and start telling us how their message is relevant in our lives. A convincing message must be clear and it must connect with the heart.

When a candidate says he’s pro-life, like most Americans, what does he mean? Professing a pro-life belief is necessary for a conservative candidate, but it is not sufficient. How does that translate into real life? What will he really do about it? Does he help single moms? Does he also care about the children we already have? Will he mow an elderly neighbor’s yard or run errands for the sick? Will he throw out senseless regulations so we can feed the homeless? These are pro-life principles, too, that solidify the pro-life message and make it relevant.

Or consider gun control. Show women how to have both freedom and safety for their families. Gun policy must make sense to women. We can empathize with the 12-year-old girl who followed her mother’s instructions to arm herself with a gun and shoot an intruder. We can identify with needing guns to keep our family safe.

Women are smart enough to decide whether to have a gun. We don’t want the government telling us we cannot have one. But we want to know: Does the candidate also have a plan to keep criminals off our streets and out of our schools? That is a plan women can support. After all, criminals don’t just kill people with guns; they use knives, fires, cars and bombs, too.

And when a candidate claims to support traditional family values, what does that mean? Will he really work to stop the child molesters and bring the Jerry Sanduskys of the world to justice? Will he commit to work against evil people who destroy so many families? Will he target those who enslave women in prostitution?

A family values mantra is not sufficient when the statistics show that so many men, even professing Christians, are further sickening our communities by viewing Internet porn. A man who demeans women, mistreats his wife, or ignores his kids has no real family values. Women this know. Women talk. A politician is free to play golf or watch football so long as he also shows that he takes his marriage vows seriously.

We want politicians who consider our interests as well as their own. While we struggle to balance household, family and work responsibilities, we have a hard time trusting that those we vote for will work as hard for us. We have a nagging suspicion that too many government workers are lollygagging around while pretending to be public servants. Our suspicion is reinforced by the all-too-frequent news reports of lavish travel, infidelity and prostitutes.

Now, about that elephant in the room. For so many conservative women, the presidential race was not about electing Romney. It was, for many of us, an anti-Obama event.

Romney was like the unwanted suitor at our high school prom. We danced because we didn’t want to turn him down and make a scene. Our reluctance was warranted, because as we danced, he talked about his economic plan.

Like one of those dolls we had as kids: “Hello, my name is Chatty Cathy!” Just pull the string to hear the same lines over and over. Ask Romney about anything and he would say, “Hello, I know how to run a business.”

Many of us would have voted for the Grinch if he were the Republican nominee. Other women felt themselves caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, but they were unwilling to give up their current unhealthy relationship for an uncertain voyage.

We believed Romney cared about the economy, but it was not clear if he cared about anything else that we care about. He lost us at “hello.”


Anita Staver is an attorney and President of Liberty Counsel, www.LC.org. 
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  • W2LJ

    Hmmmm …..
    I looked at the two candidates and this is what I saw. Maybe I’m stupid and naive – I don’t know. I’m not a woman either, so maybe what I’m about to say here doesn’t amount to a hill of beans – but I think some of the central themes that touched me pertain to both genders – again, maybe I’m wrong.

    One was a man who, as far as I could tell, had no practical experience running anything in his life – no practical businesses anyway, or even any job experience that required manual labor with the sweat of his brow and back. He seems to have NO respect for human life as I understand it, publically advocating infanticide. I know that’s a horrible to thing to assert; but his voting record on that in Illinois is on public record – there’s no getting around that no matter how hard you might want to look the other way. He would rather appear on TV shows than meet with our closest allies. He would pander to whatever group he appeared before and would not take responsibility for anything, choosing to blame anyone else for the problems we face but himself.

    The other candidate was a successful businessman – I know, that’s a REALLY bad thing these days. But he has a verifiable history of success as well as being a devoted man to his family and religion. He had gone on missionary trips and gave the inheritance he received from his father to charity, preferring to make his own way in the world. The man had chosen to give more to charity in his lifetime than I will ever be able to. He could have kept it all to himself; but he didn’t. Maybe I’m simplistic; but that speaks volumes to me.

    I read stories where he had actually and personally gave his own personal wealth and time and talent to people who needed it. College students needing housing, and unwed preganant mother who needed assistance – and other things that I can’t even remember now. And these stories were told by other people, they never came out of the candidate’s mouth. He seemed to do these things without seeking the fanfare that they actually deserve.

    As far as, “Ask Romney about anything and he would say, “Hello, I know how to run a business.”” goes, I say – what’s wrong with that? By getting the economy back on it’s feet, the good things can follow. I always thought that people wanted to work hard to fashion a good life for themselves and their families, thereby increasing the common good for all society.
    Neither candidate was ideal, by a long shot; but given from what we had to choose – I thought it was a “no-brainer”.
    I guess I was wrong.

  • In Romney I saw a man who had been faithful to his wife “in sickness and in health” – through Ann’s episodes of cancer and multiple sclerosis. I felt his faithfulness and his obvious love for his wife and sons spoke a great deal about his character and helped me set aside concerns about his Mormon faith. I think he would have made a fine president and I’m sorry the American people disappointed him.

  • praying mama

    If that is all you took from Romney, I’m afraid you and others didn’t look too far. I’m sorry, but I agree with the two previous posters, his story spoke volumes. The media just out-yelled it. It’s to bad we lost such an upstanding man.

  • Terri Kimmel

    iI don’t get it…. I didn’t think either of them catered to women. Neither of them seemed to value what mattered to me. I voted for Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party–the first time I’ve voted third party (write-in at that!) in my life. Romney had a comfortable lead in my state, so I had the luxury of not having to vote against Obama. I do agree that Romney’s character is more fitting a president. Nevertheless, they were both losers over all in my feminine standard for president.

    I think much of the problem is that women in this country don’t value hard work and honest gain. In short, they don’t value masculinity. They want Woody Allen for president: smarmy, whimpy, feminized, “sympathetic” men who will drink herbal tea with them and listen to their whining about expensive contraception instead of guarding the perimeter with a sharp spear and leading the tribe to greater prosperity and security.

    The narcissistic, feminist mindset of this country is key to our social degradation.

    • goral

      Third party candidates are a goode way to make a statement and then…… nothing. I guess you’re allowed a political flirt every now and then, Terri K.
      I’ll have to re-examine my winter herbal tea drinking habits.
      The rest of your comment is spot on and I mean, absolutely impeccable.,

      • Terri Kimmel

        Romney had a comfortable lead in my state and I didn’t want to vote for him. Goode, whose uber-conservative views on immigration I find abhorrent, was the best candidate for me. At least immigration is a prudential versus a settled issue like abortion/SSM/euthenasia/embryonic destruction, etc. I’m not sure it was a “flirt” as much as tossing rose petals toward a hopeless, but admired, underdog.

        There’s nothing wrong with drinking herbal tea as long as it’s not a substitute for real testoserone. :0)
        You know, studies indicate that women on hormonal contraception prefer men who are more feminine. America is still discerning how deeply that fact has reverberated in our society.

        • goral

          The country is approaching a climate where a third candidate may be welcome by the electorate but the entrenched donkeys and elephants will do everything to prevent it. The Tea Party started putting forth chutes but was savagely pruned back by the media.

          Yes, I’ve heard the reports of those studies. Other studies attribute the sissy(fication) of men to the use of plastic containers that emit polymers into the food contents. Yet another study shows links to various perfumed hygiene products that have the same effect. The problem and the solution is in chemistry, so they tell us.

          Looks like herbal testosterone tea with ginseng could be a high demand beverage very soon. Sold in convenient sissy-sipper glass, not plastic, containers

          • Unless I am mistaken, some of those plastic polymers imitate estrogen. So there may not be as much difference between one thing and the other.

    • Well said, Terri. Give me John Wayne over Woody Allen anyday.

      • Terri Kimmel

        Bob, did you read Peggy’s Noonan’s “Welcome Back, Duke” in 2001? It was in the WSJ, I believe. She wrote it in response to the surge of maculine heroism that carried us through the decimation of 9/11. She compared Woody Allen and John Wayne, if I remember correctly. It is a stellar op/ed that I still read from time to time when I need inspiration.

  • noelfitz

    Are all politicians male in the US?

    • CDville

      Most of the female politicians support taxpayer-funded abortion. The few pro-life women who try to run for office are demonized by the press of the culture of death. Come to think of it, that same pattern applies to the men….

  • rightactions

    Article’s bottom line: females are less intelligent and more inclined to immorality than conservatives ever supposed.