Women won’t step backward in time

It’s hard to see how the Growth and Opportunity Project is going to succeed.

As Republicans gear up for the mid-term election cycle, there have been many reports of their rebranding plan, a national effort designed to make the party more appealing to groups that have largely abandoned it in the voting booth. Women, in particular, seem to be losing their patience with the Republicans’ obsession with controlling women’s personal health decisions as every news cycle seems to show the Project’s words don’t add up.

Consider Rep. Steve Pearce’s, R-NM, memoir released last month that asserts a wife “is to voluntarily submit” to her husband. No worries, though, because he will “show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.” What a modern world he lives in.

Then there are the comments from former Republican governor of Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, apparently trying to convince women their interests are better served when Republicans control the political landscape.

Huckabee proclaimed in a luncheon speech that “Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without ’Uncle Sugar’ coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government…” He said Democrats view women as “helpless” while his party seeks to empower women to “be something other than victims of their gender.”

Huckabee insisted his comments were misunderstood and taken out of context. He said he isn’t against birth control, just the “Democrats treating women as though they are somehow incapable of being able to function unless the Democrats and particularly the government comes in to rescue them.”

Here’s a hint about the outrage from women of both parties over your remarks, governor—women want their reproductive health needs to be included in their health plans just like men’s sexual health needs are provided for. You want Viagra. We want birth control.

In Nevada, we still recoil at the “caveman radio” segment last fall when Washoe GOP leaders led a panel discussion on the role of women in the home and the workforce, seeming to blame a long list of societal problems on women neglecting their home life.

Women in Nevada’s Legislature have long endured the dubious honor of working twice as hard to be taken half as seriously as many male legislators, no matter which party they represented. At Assemblywoman Vivian Freeman’s memorial recently, someone told the story of her groundbreaking mining reclamation bill that was taken away from her and given to a male legislator because it was far too important to entrust to a woman.

Yet, the contrast between the two parties of women in leadership was never more apparent than in the 2013 session when Republicans could boast of just one woman in the Senate, their senior member, who was given minor committee assignments and routinely ignored while the Assembly was led by the second female Speaker in the last six years, a Democrat.

Meanwhile, one of Nevada’s most venerable and respected Republican women, former senator and lieutenant governor, Sue Wagner, left her party last week to become a registered non-partisan voter. She told Ray Hagar of the Reno Gazette-Journal the party no longer represented her because “It’s grown so conservative and tea-party oriented and I just can’t buy into that. … I did it as a symbol, I guess, that I do not like the Republican Party and what they stand for today.”

Neena Laxalt, another prominent Republican woman, followed her lead a few days later.

Instead of attracting new voters, it seems the Growth and Opportunity Project and its elected representatives might be driving them away.