Politics 2010: Conservative Women and (Not So) Angry White Males

Nikki Haley, Republican candidate for Governor in South Carolina

I think the world of strong, intelligent and attractive conservative women. I’m married to one. There was a time when the only women rising to the top of national politics were liberal Democrats (Pat Schroeder, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi). It was difficult to name impressive conservative women at the national level. Most, such as Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hutchinson, weren’t headed anywhere. 

Now, the political scene is bursting with flamboyant conservative women, many of whom will win prominent races in November. Some, such as Christine O’Donnell, will lose; but they are visible forces. Four Republican senatorial candidates are pro-life women.

Taking a preemptive shot at winners and losers in the 2010 midterms, Charles Krauthammer cites the rise of conservative women, and also the misrepresentation of the anti-incumbent surge as “anger,” reminiscent of the “angry white males” in 1994. In today’s column, Krauthammer writes:

Most important socio-demographic trend. The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly ent (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.

Most misrepresented socio-demographic trend. Conventional wisdom is that the election is being driven by anger and blind anti-incumbent fervor. Nonsense. Overwhelmingly, it is Democratic incumbents, not Republicans, who are under siege. This is a national revolt against the Democratic governance of the past two years. One must understand that “anger” is the explanation du jour when Republicans win big. The last wave election (1994), for example, was dubbed the Year of the Angry White Male — despite the fact that there was not a scintilla of polling evidence supporting that characterization. Of course the electorate is angry this time around. But it is not inchoate irrational anger — a “temper tantrum,” as ABC News anchor Peter Jennings called the 1994 Republican sweep — but a highly pointed, perfectly rational anger at the ideological overreach and incompetence of the governing Democrats.

One story cites the use of social networks by conservative women (Mama Grizzlies) as a growing force. But these women are also organizing. One such group is called The Kitchen Cabinet:

Conservative-minded women have become one of the leading stories of this campaign cycle. One of those women is Sonja Eddings Brown, a former TV anchor, who was tea party before it was cool, on Prop 8 in California, a tea-party issue that will never get that label — at least for now, despite the popularity of traditional marriage in California (!) when it was put to a vote. But judges know better. Brown is now a founder of The Kitchen Cabinet, a political action committee seeking to get conservative women more involved in the political process. It’s very tea party in that sense. But also, knowing how the tea party isn’t necessarily about infrastructure, seeks to build one

 Even the liberal Boston Globe sees the feminine train a-coming:

A record number of Republican women are running for federal and statewide offices this year, encouraged by GOP recruiting organizations, the high-profile candidacy of Sarah Palin in 2008, and voters who see the women as natural agents of change, according to political analysts and officials. Such an influx is expected to have significant implications for the image of the Republican Party, which has long been seen as a party dominated by white men.

What the Globe means is “angry white men.” But come November, it seems likely the only people who will be angry will be Democrats watching conservative women and other not-so-angry Republicans making victory speeches in hotel ballrooms across the country.

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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