Love it or hate it, we're in a brand new election year. What with the lowest rating for Congress in history and the gridlock on Capitol Hill, this may seem like less than the greatest news.
But women ought to be pretty enthusiastic. After all, we're the majority -- not only the majority of the population in general, but the majority of registered voters and of those who actually show up at the polls. That means women can control any election, and the candidates know it.
The gender gap in national elections is alive and well. Since 1980, women have voted differently than men -- most often going for the Democrats, while men mainly stick with the ol' boys in the Republican party.
The Republicans want to fix this of course. Well, sort of. On the one hand they've launched an initiative to train candidates in how to talk to women. No more "legitimate rape" or blaming military sexual assaults on - well, you know - boys just being boys.
But in the "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" department, they kicked off January with multi-pronged assaults on birth control and abortion. A panel of 12 men on the House Judiciary Committee has already held hearings on denying tax subsidies to women and small businesses that buy health insurance with abortion coverage. (Presumably in a gesture to garner women's votes while taking their rights, they would exempt rape and incest victims and those who would die without abortion care.)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also promised to fight for employers' rights to refuse contraception coverage for moral reasons. And to round out the trifecta, the Republican National Committee has announced plans to delay its annual winter meeting so members can attend the March for Life, an anti-abortion rally on the very anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Democrats are counting on the female vote to elect strong women to get rid of neanderthals like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. At the state level, Texas Dems are rounding up women's votes to put Wendy Davis in the governor's mansion when Rick Perry rides into the sunset.
Getting the female vote is just not that complicated. Here's a blueprint for candidates of both parties:
Being the majority of the poor, women need the safety net more than men do. When times are tough, food stamps are crucial in filling in the gaps. Since the majority of women work outside the home, paid family leave and decent child care would be nice. So would a raise in the minimum wage, because the majority of minimum wage workers are adult women, many of them single parents. And since they make less than men all their working lives, women need better equal pay laws and a strong Social Security system in their old age. Women also live longer, meaning good Medicare coverage is high on the list.
And one more little thing. Women, regardless of ethnicity, age, or religion, strongly support access to birth control, and they want abortion to be legal. So maybe staying out of their bedrooms would be good advice for those who want their votes.
Like I said, it's real simple.
Listen to the 2 minute radio commentary here.