There they go again: The GOP is trotting out their well-worn smear and fear tactics and swift-boating women with our gender. Enough is enough. We must reject the politics of personal destruction and choose hope over fear.
If it's election time, it's Othering Season for the GOP. As the New York Times (in "In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election") and Bloomberg (in "Republicans Use Fear Factor in Targeting Female Democrats") have pointed out, the GOP is once again trotting out their fear and smear tactics, using gender as a weapon against female candidates.
We know this playbook because we saw it in every election since the horrific 9/11 attacks. In both editions of Campaign Boot Camp, I reported the bipartisan polling showing that voters judge Democratic women most harshly on national security (p. 20) and that, as President Clinton pointed out back in 2006, the GOP strategy seems to be "they'll tax you to the poorhouse and they'll be a terrorist on every corner as you walk there" (p. 210). Some of the terms are new -- Ebola, for example -- but the fear and smear tactics are the same.
We have the tools to fight back: strong coalitions, positive national security, veterans and immigration reform messages, and rejection of these politics of personal destruction. But we need to use them -- consistently and courageously.
Candidates, you need strong coalitions because only by working with people across the political landscape can our volunteers get out the positive messages you have to offer. Eleven Democratic women lost in the wave year of 2006 by under a dozen percentage points because we did not respond to the "late hits" against immigrants during that Othering Season. The president needed a billion-dollar campaign to withstand the Othering Obama attacks from birthers and nativists in 2012. So the 2014 midterms make coalitions where we embrace immigrants and diverse communities -- and mobilize them to vote -- all the more crucial. Show your security credentials, mobilize veteran-to-veteran GOTV efforts and empower minority communities who are being othered and scapegoated by the opposition. Stand up for your constituents and stand against these politics of personal destruction that undermine not only your candidacy, but your constituents' character.
As President Barack Obama often reminds us, "fear is a choice -- but hope is a better choice."
In this election, let's choose hope over fear.