Democrats to women: drop dead

Your Democratic Party in action!

Here’s an article headlined “Can women save the democrats?” (via RealClearPolitics) suggesting that Democrats are attempting a last-ditch effort to pull their a$$es out of the fire in November:  targeting their base of women voters.  Except, it’s mostly a recitation of bad polling numbers for the Dems–there’s little if any indication that Democrats intend to do anything about it.

Can women save the Democrats?

The gender contours of American politics have been clear for many years. Democrats have long enjoyed a decided advantage among female voters, less so among men. Over the next five weeks, Democrats’ hopes of holding the House and Senate may depend on their success in once again rallying those female voters.

Right now, Democrats are doing far better among women than men, but in many places not by enough. In a number of states, men are supporting Republican candidates by significant margins, while women are backing Democratic candidates but not by as much as in some past years.

.       .       .       .      .       .      .       .      

Four years ago, on the eve of the 2006 midterms, men were evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats in their voting intentions for the House, while women were Democratic by 22 percentage points. Today, Newport said, 52 percent of men say they plan to vote Republican and 40 percent say they will vote for the Democrat. Women are the opposite: 52 percent Democrat and 40 percent Republican.

CNN released a series of statewide polls last week, showing much the same. In Colorado, Republican challenger Ken Buck led Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. Among men, it was Buck 56 percent, Bennet 36 percent. Among women, it was Bennet 52 percent, Buck 41 percent.

So what are Democrats doing to try to energize their base?  What outreach efforts are they making?  Here’s the only evidence offered in this story that anyone associated with Democratic politics thinks this is a problem: 

Democrats hoping to hold down losses are pinning their hopes on mobilizing women and say they see evidence that, when sharp contrasts are drawn with the Republican candidate, numbers move in their direction.

But there are obstacles this year. Democrats do better among unmarried women than among married women. But unmarried women have been hit hard by the recession and may be more difficult than usual to motivate. “They’re in tough shape, and they’re hard to get energized,” said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.

Democrats remember 1994. In that year, an estimated 16 million women who had voted in 1992 did not show up at the polls. That was one of a number of factors behind the GOP landslide that year.

“Our job is to motivate core Democratic women to get out to vote,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List.

And how much harder is it this fall than in other elections?

“Because of the general enthusiasm gap that we’ve seen among Democrats already across the board,” she said, “it is a concern of all of ours.”

Wow–one whole pollster, and one leader of an advocacy group for women in politics!  That makes for one person–Stan Greenberg–whose job description doesn’t involve caring about women’s political activism every election cycle, and zero elected Democrats or their aides and strategists who apparently care about this impending electoral disaster.  It’s difficult to say whether this is just lazy reporting–are there really a lot more Dems who care about the gender gap and mobilizing women voters?–or if it’s an indication that although the polling data seems clear, Democrats really don’t give a $h!t about their base.  I’m voting for the latter theory–and not just because this Congress and White House have been eager to use reproductive rights as a bargaining chip (earning them nothing) in health care reform, and haven’t otherwise done anything meaningful for women since passing the Lily Ledbettter Act.  I’m guessing that reporter Dan Baltz would have been thrilled to get some actual Democrats involved in actual electoral politics on the record as caring about the gender gap, since that’s the angle he chose to pursue in this story.  (And every reporter wants sources who will ratify and expand on his angle, right?)

As Big Tent Democrat says over at TalkLeftthis is why the Democrats are going to get creamed in November.  Here’s my prediction, in the form of a question and answer:  Q.  Can women save the Democrats?  A. No one will ask them to, but they’ll get blamed for not saving the Democrats anyway.

0 thoughts on “Democrats to women: drop dead

  1. Democrats count on women’s terror of Roe v Wade being overturned to bring the vote to them, which is normally a decent strategy.

    However, with the Sestak amendment and the administration requiring a year to study whether birth control should be a covered under preventive health care, the bugbear of REPUBLICANSOMG is diminished since the Democrats, fairly obviously, don’t care EITHER.


  2. I’d be much more happy to vote Democrat if I didn’t feel like I’d been tossed under the bus and horse traded away a few times too many in the last couple of years. You know — if the Dems actually gave a shit about me, except when they want my vote (or my money).

    I’ll vote Dem anyway, because the alternative is open hostility and active motions to take away my rights, rather than the same thing, thinly veiled.


  3. I fail to understand the common refrain “if the Dems actually gave a shit about me.” What are they supposed to do? Serve you breakfast in bed? It isn’t as if I think much of the Democrats. They are mostly Rockefeller Republicans and for me on the far left it’s unacceptable. They tried a little. Waco health care reform, useless financial reform, terrible education initiative, etc. A lot of that garbage came from the dysfunctional and dumb Obama.

    Just consider the alternative. The Taliban Republicans will make us miss the lousy Democrats badly. That is true for both genders.

    If they’ll blame women, they will be even more ridiculous than they are now.


  4. Breakfast in bed would be nice–but keeping Republicans out of it would be even better! The current crop of Dems seems not only ineffective at accomplishing that, many of them appear to be just as bad as the Republicans (Stupack Amendment, anyone?) So, I fail to see how things would actually get worse.

    Women’s votes are central to Dem victory, and they’re not just taken for granted, they’re ritually spat upon by the Dem majority. That’s the problem.

    Republicans don’t really have an interest in overturning Roe. It’s too useful as a moneymaking engine and something to get the rubes all riled up. In that, it serves the same way that ending DADT did for the Obama campaign. I’m pretty sure a number of Republicans would $hit a brick if the SCOTUS actually overturned Roe.


  5. I don’t want them to serve me breakfast in bed; I want them to stop saying they give a crap about women’s rights, GBLTQ rights, racism, and the environment during elections, and then trading it all away during back room deals, wherein (as Historiann has already pointed out) they get no ROI.

    And I have considered the alternative, which is why I’ll vote Dem. And then wait, expecting to get kicked in the teeth again, and yet being hopeful that it won’t happen. You know, if this was in the context of a relationship, and not an election, it might be considered abusive…


  6. The alternative of voting Dem is the same alternative as voting Repug. The new boss is at least the same as the old boss and with our civil liberties being stomped on by Mr. Constitutional President, could be worse.

    Until we get real campaign finance laws and term limits, I don’t see much of a chance with either party.


  7. Koshem Bos, I see where Digger’s coming from here. Both of you are saying that the alternative is much, much worse. I agree. But what’s so offensive is that they count on women to vote them into office, then as soon as a political compromise is needed, it’s the needs and political imperatives of women that seem to be most expendable.

    It’s a choice for the lesser of two evils. Women deserve more than that. But until there’s a third alternative, we’re not going to get it, for precisely the reasons that you and Digger state.


  8. It’s times like this when I am so grateful for my status as a dual citizen of the US and Canada. Women do get marginalized in the political process but not nearly to the extent that they do in the states!


  9. I guess I’ve always been a fire-breathing radical, so I’ll stay true to form.

    Anyone who lets themselves be bamboozled with the lesser-of-two-evils balderdash is an enabler. The whole thing is so parallel to abuse it’s pathetic.

    What’s the advice everyone gives abused spouses? Leave!

    That’s what the voters have to do too. Leave. The abuse won’t be worse in the great wide world. It’s worst with the abuser.

    Politicians, on average, care about exactly nothing except getting your vote. Until people, including women, quit voting for politicians who abuse them, the politicians will continue driving over the top of us.

    And the Republican Taliban, quite frankly, don’t scare me anywhere near as much as the Democrats. They *sound* worse. But they don’t have heaps of Democratic enablers helping them drive that bus.


  10. Historiann says “So, I fail to see how things would actually get worse.”

    Really? I think some of you all underestimate the seriousness with which many conservatives (particularly social conservatives) hold their views. If you’re a liberal, I think there’s a lot to be worried about. Roe may not be on the table right this second but it wouldn’t take much for it to get on the table. I’ve got no problem with defensive voting, especially given the rampant racism and islamophobia at the moment.


  11. What Comdrade PhysioProf said: “grotesque ineptitude and assholery”. Yes and yes! It’s amazing to see the energy with which I wish doom and destruction on the guys who are supposed to be my own team! But I also am a defensive voter because I agree with others (like frogprincess) that social conservatives are terrifying and their agenda is scarier than the Democrats are offensive, which is really saying something. I’m not sure I believe Republicans don’t really want RvW overturned. I think a bunch of them really, really do (and really want to prosecute women who have abortions for murder) and if in power there’s no telling what they’ll do. Besides, they don’t HAVE to repeal RvW – in every Republican controlled state women’s access to abortion is being whittled away to almost nothing and nobody gives a sh$t because those are just women’s bodies (and also our maternal and infant mortality rates are on the rise in this country and nobody cares much about that either).

    A friend of mine recently convinced me to start voting Green in national elections,because I just can’t vote for another one of their “presidential candidates.”

    Why why why are the Democrats so intellectually, politically, spiritually, and emotionally bankrupt?


  12. This was posted over at Corrente:

    [i]In a move familiar to the Administration’s kabuki on DADT, they are now claiming they need a year – a YEAR – to study whether birth control is a preventative health care treatment covered under the new health reform law. Although it will actually take longer than a year to decide that question:

    “Comissioned by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the study is supposed to determine whether contraception is, in fact, a preventive health service. Allowing a year for the research, which is due next August, then additional time to issue new regulations, and, after that, a year in which insurers will have to comply with new regulations, it’ll be at least 2012 before women can get birth control without a hefty co-pay. 2013 is more likely.”[/i]

    As one poster’s tag line reads: never vote for people who hate you. Generally, it takes an abused woman 7 tries to leave an abusive partner. When do Democratic women get to number seven?


  13. It’s a choice for the lesser of two evils.

    Not for women. For women, it’s merely choice as to the mechanism — Democrat or Republican — by which evil is enacted.

    I’ve got no problem with defensive voting, especially given the rampant racism and islamophobia at the moment.

    Why are women expected to man everybody’s else’s ramparts while our own rights are traded away behind our backs?

    “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”


  14. Why are women expected to man everybody’s else’s ramparts while our own rights are traded away behind our backs?

    Because, Emma: women are expected to solve every OTHER social injustice first, and only then will our petty little girl concerns merit addressing! It’s all a part of the care work, the uncompensated or undercompensated work, that women are expected to perform, whether in the home, at work, or in politics. And too many of us agree to do this work because we’re afraid of being thought of as selfish, or not nice, or not a team player.

    That’s how we are kept in line, and how we keep ourselves and our sisters in line, too.


  15. Emma says, “Why are women expected to man everybody’s else’s ramparts while our own rights are traded away behind our backs?”

    This is where these discussions always run aground for me. For some reason, white feminists are incapable of realizing that for women of color there is no single identity of “woman” that trumps every other consideration. These forms of discrimination and prejudice work hand in hand in complex ways and so combatting them has to take into account the fact that black, latina, native american, arab, and asian women might just have different struggles. Islamophobia might just matter more to a Muslim woman than Roe v. Wade. Same for a black woman, who might just worry more about the men around her who are more likely to be shot by police. Or a latina woman who now has to worry that she and her loved ones could be rounded up at any moment. If the brand of feminism that dominates the national debate wants to remain relevant, it’s going to need to get to grips with the realities of women who aren’t white. And for women who aren’t white, there really are worse things than the Democrats.


  16. I hear you thefrogprincess, but the insistence that women–all women–need to always defer, again and again, makes a lot of us wonder when women’s issues will be seen as human rights issues as urgent as the other issues you mention.

    Aren’t we capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time? Why do we let our politics tell us that race and gender issues are separate from each other?


  17. Yeah, I don’t view this as a need to defer; these things should be tackled at the same time (and I’m well aware that they aren’t). It’s just that the issues that white women might see as “everybody else’s rampart” are issues of pressing concern to women of color. This creates an unnecessary divide and inadvertently works to exclude. I know I’m not comfortable being part of a movement that wants to shut down my voice every time I mention what being a woman of color means and how that may differ. These issues shouldn’t be separate, I agree, but both our politics and a lot of feminism work very hard to separate them.


  18. I agree. I’m just finishing up Rebecca Traister’s book on the 2008 election–you might be interested to take a look at it. It explores in detail how race divides the feminist community, and how different women (black, white, and Latina) grappled with the issues raised by the Democratic primary.

    But, in so doing, the book demonstrates that while feminists remain divided, there’s a strong majority of them who are committed to racial and class justice as well as gender issues. Traister’s portrait of the Democratic party–and of the Obama campaign in particular–don’t show anywhere near the same commitment to addressing all of these issues, and it’s the women’s issues that get left out/thrown under the bus first.


  19. Traister’s book was already on my Kindle purchase list and I’m excited about reading it. I read an interview she gave with Curtis Sittenfeld in which she raised some of these issues in a very thoughtful way. The specific example she brought up was how she and other white feminists were dismayed with Michelle Obama’s becoming mother-in-chief and how that marginalized her significant intellectual achievements. (A very valid critique, imo.) But after Traister wrote about this, black feminists like Melissa Harris-Lacewell pointed out that for a black woman to be cast as an ideal mother is really a huge step (another valid observation). Traister’s view didn’t necessarily change but she recognized the other viewpoint, which I think is all we can ask for.


  20. It’s just that the issues that white women might see as “everybody else’s rampart” are issues of pressing concern to women of color. This creates an unnecessary divide and inadvertently works to exclude.

    Then I very respectfully suggest that organizations/movements which address the issues of people of color but which DO NOT incorporate women’s issues actively reach out to women and incorporate women’s issues. Thus, these conversations will no longer run aground.

    Which is to say, I think we’re better off thinking of these issues as two-way interactions, “I’ll support your efforts in X if you support my efforts in Y”, rather than a one way street — “I’ll support your efforts in X because it’s The Right Thing To Do!” Because the fact of the matter is that all too often cries of “X Justice Now!” actually mean “Gender Justice Never!”

    As for what I may be incapable of realizing, I’m not going to run my resume by you, but you try arguing to a court that discrimination against a Black woman AS a Black woman is discrimination when the white people and the Black men are all treated equally. See, if the Black men and white men are treated the same, there’s no race discrimination. And if the white women and the white men are treated the same, there’s no gender discrimination. You try arguing that she’s in reality a Blackwoman while everybody else, including the law, insists that she’s a Black, woman.

    A long-winded way of saying that I’m well aware of the disaggregation of race from sex nd how it works to f*** specific persons because of who they, in fact, are. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to put myself in a one-down position by jumping willy-nilly on the “X Justice Now!” bandwagon.


  21. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

    If women are not for ourselves, nobody else will be, either. I can only be for myself and expect that others will be for themselves, too. And if that means saying no to each other until we can reach a yes that everybody can work with, so be it. And if things are really going to get worse in the meantime, maybe we will have more incentive to get quickly to yes. And I don’t see a problem with insisting that I won’t man your ramparts unless you man mine at the same time.

    Frankly, IMO, women have to stop doing things for altruistic reasons and start doing everything for selfish reasons.


  22. And, really, I apologize for serial posting — last one I promise.


    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

    is only true if you understand what “committed” means. That is, selfish b*tches get sh*t done.


  23. I guess what I’m saying, Emma, is that while your ramparts may just include issues of gender, my ramparts include issues of gender, race, and class, not because I’m being altruistic but because those are the forces that act on my life.


  24. Not trying to put words in thefrogprincess’ mouth, but one ‘problem here’ is: Say that the Republicans and the Democrats are equally shit at actually protecting women’s rights – the Dems give lip service to it but don’t actually do it, and the Reps don’t bother at all. Someone primarily interested in women’s rights might withhold votes from the Dems in order to try and get the point across that they need to actually walk the fucking walk. It would make little real difference in terms of outcome, since the Dems weren’t going to uphold women’s rights anyway.

    However, there are other issues where it’s clear that, crap as the Dems are, they are still definitely better than the Reps. If you care about other issues, you may not feel ABLE to scorn the Dems – letting the Reps take over may be little or no difference on women’s issues but a serious difference on class ones, etc.


  25. letting the Reps take over may be little or no difference on women’s issues but a serious difference on class ones, etc.

    Then, AFAIC, people are on their own until they act like real allies to me and take on my issues as well as their own. I don’t give it away for free anymore. As long as they’re on the “Dems are 2% less evil” voting strategy, I’m not on board.

    Alternatively, they could posit an analyis and strategy that moves us toward a single common goal: abolishment of the U.S. 2-party system that allows corporate capture of the government and has done for hundreds of years. I would work for that. But “Dems are 2% less evil” ain’t that.

    I just think it’s pretty funny that gender is “my” issue while race and class are “our” issues. And arguing for the elevation of gender to a universal issue is universally treated like I’m demanding that race, class, etc. be demoted.

    Yes, I’ll hold your issues hostage to elevate my issues. How is that any different from what the Dems are doing? And you continue to support them.


  26. Then, AFAIC, people are on their own until they act like real allies to me and take on my issues as well as their own. I don’t give it away for free anymore.

    But you’re refusing to take on THEIR issues as well as your own.

    The case I was presenting was not “someone who cares only about class/race” but “someone who cares about gender AND class AND race”. And as was already pointed out, it’s pretty hurtful to imply that some women are no longer counted as part of the feminist group just because they have other issues on their plates as well, ones that cannot be set aside.

    Yes, it would certainly be MORE useful to propose a good allied solution towards overturning this useless two-party system that hurts everyone. But not knowing quite how to fix the entire world at once doesn’t mean that you have to keep your mouth shut about obvious flaws.

    I am not, btw, actually telling anyone to vote in any way, I’m just trying to explore and explain viewpoints. 🙂


  27. But you’re refusing to take on THEIR issues as well as your own.

    They’re refusing to take on MY issues as well as their own, see the comment about “defensive” voting for Dems.

    it’s pretty hurtful to imply that some women are no longer counted as part of the feminist group just because they have other issues on their plates as well, ones that cannot be set aside.

    I didn’t say or imply that anybody is not a feminist. Also, I don’t do guilt trips, so “hurtful”? Meh. It’s politics. It’s a contact sport.

    I’m not asking anybody to set aside their own issues. But, if I’m going to be asked, or expected, to take somebody else’s issues on, then we’re going to have to negotiate about that. Preferably without the commentary about how horrible, shortsighted, incapable of realizing, etc. I am to insist on the equal importance of my own issues. What’s so horrible about this?

    There seem to be people here who want me to vote Dem despite Dems’ horrible actions re: women’s rights. OK. What do I get in return for selling myself out?


  28. They’re refusing to take on MY issues as well as their own

    No, they’re potentially refusing to necessarily vote the way you want them to vote.

    That doesn’t mean they are not invested in women’s issues.

    (And that’s what I meant when I said you seemed to be implying that they were not feminist – it seems like you’re saying they can’t be supporting your cause if they are also supporting other causes)

    These issues are all important. It’s not that race is more important than gender or that gender is more important than race. They’re all important.

    Someone who cares about more than one issue is easily stuck in a situation where ANY option seems TERRIBLE. Sadly that’s politics; most choices on anything absolutely suck, and politicians do their best to weigh down any voting measure with enough contradictory elements that everyone’s unhappy. And thus why a lot of people get discouraged and give up on voting altogether.

    But just not voting doesn’t accomplish much… we need to find a way to make the point very clear to the Dems WHY we’re not supporting them, lest they just mutter that they clearly aren’t being right-wing enough…


  29. It looks to me like the Dem congress and WH are not just horrible on women’s/feminist issues. The list of grievances for most progressive voters is long: 1) DADT and marriage equality, 2) Civil liberties issues (spying, wiretapping, see Glenn Greenwald), 3) Gitmo–still open!, 4) Drug war: it continues, 5) Union issues: still no vote on card check, so unions are looking at another long, cold spell, 6) Environment–how’s that Dem prez working out for us?

    I could go on. I agree with Emma: it’s not like the Dems are leading us in the right direction on anything, and 2% less evil just ain’t gonna cut it for me. I will vote Green/3rd party/even R when I deem appropriate this fall. It’s too bad we’re stuck with this lumbering 2 party system when neither party is interested in actually governing.


  30. No, they’re potentially refusing to necessarily vote the way you want them to vote.

    No, the issue is: I’m not going to vote the way they are telling me to vote, i.e. for Dems lest things get really, really bad for people who are not me.

    I don’t want them to vote any way at all. I think it’s foolish to continue to vote Dem, yes. But that doesn’t mean I care how they vote.

    I’m pretty much resigned to what we have continuing. I don’t believe anything will change until things get much, much worse. And, at that point, things will be so apocalyptically bad that the flood will consume all but the very, very rich. I view these arguments about voting for the lesser of two evils as akin to debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    But I do get ticked off when people tell me that the intricacies of race/gender/class are far beyond my ken.


  31. Wow, that is SERIOUSLY some condescending shit right there; thanks for the link to Shakesville, Historiann. Gah… don’t explain that I don’t understand it because it is too complicated, and I shouldn’t worry my little head, but just do what I’m told… [hey! there’s that abusive relationship stuff again…]

    I will vote for my Democratic congressman because he personally supports things that I also support, and votes for them. And because the person running against him is wildly conservative. The party as a whole, though? Urgh. I do miss Canadian politics, with three+ viable parties…


  32. I just know that in 2008, my inbox received uncounted appeals to me to join one organization after another that was, initially intended to represent Women. I’d get all these encouraging updates about rapid growth, events, fund raising, etc… then- invariably, the group was hijacked by women “of Color” Lesbian and Gay Women, or morphed into Obama volunteer groups. So, I guess, THEY’re more than women. Anyway, the ladies of the Library said they’d read Sara Palin’s book, but not watch her on Oprah, because Oprah proved it was way more about being black than about being Woman. For all the women who supported her stand to not go the Gerry Springer route, made her ungodly rich, she was a stiff for not recognizing her duty to her sister…. Women saw what Oprah did as a precedent and now EXPECT to forever have “IT” done to them and some bullshit will be shoveled at them for their unreasonable expectations. Women should join every trap that claims to support women?… we just look at Oprah’s declaration of an untested, unproven, pompous academic as “The One” when Hillary Clinton had just LIVED the plight of what every woman knows is discrimination against competence, and we’re just not moved.


  33. Pingback: We said drop dead! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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