Geoffrey Kabaservice: How Democrats Are Complicit in the Republican War Against Women
Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party.
The Republican Party’s alleged “war” against women is fast emerging as a major trope of the 2012 elections. And the charge is largely true: As the GOP has become increasingly conservative, so too has it become increasingly hostile to feminism and insensitive to women’s issues.
But Democrats have not merely been horrified bystanders wringing their hands as this “war” has unfolded. The Democratic Party has actively encouraged the GOP’s descent into antifeminism. And though Democrats have reaped considerable gains from the fallout, their efforts have often ultimately been to the detriment of the country’s women.
As various accounts have pointed out, the Republican Party for most of its history was broadly supportive of women’s rights and aspirations, at any rate by the standards of the times. A Republican Congress endorsed the amendment giving women the vote in 1919, and 80 percent of the state legislatures that approved it were Republican-controlled. The party instituted gender-based affirmative action in 1940 by requiring the Republican National Committee to have one woman and one man from each state, decades in advance of similar reforms by the Democrats. Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican, was the only woman senator for 24 years, and became the first woman to run for president. Dwight Eisenhower appointed more women to top posts than John F. Kennedy did....
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