Women voters don't take the bait when you accuse your pro-life opponent of being a misogynist. In two elections this November, Democrats failed to retain seats under seemingly favorable circumstances thanks to poor campaigns based almost entirely on women's issues.
In Maryland (my home state), well-established and very well-funded Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown was poised for an easy victory over his little known Republican challenger. Personally, I didn't see what was so appealing to voters about Lt. Governor Brown, who easily clinched the Democratic nomination with over 50 percent of the vote in a three-way primary. As it turns out, neither did the rest of Maryland.
Brown's campaign was an unmitigated disaster. The biggest upset in the nation on election night was Anthony Brown's five-point loss to Republican Larry Hogan. In 2010, a great year for Republicans, Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley cruised to a huge 15-point victory.
Of course, O'Malley ran a campaign with actual accomplishments to run on. Anthony Brown did nothing of the sort. As Maryland's Lieutenant Governor, Brown was only given one task of note, to implement health care reform in Maryland. The implementation was a disaster leading to millions of dollars in losses for the state of Maryland and no real accomplishments for Brown to run on. Out of sheer desperation, Anthony Brown turned to social issues, namely abortion and gun control.
This post isn't supposed to be about gun control, but I'll quickly drop a little bit of wisdom on Mr. Brown that I'm sure he would have appreciated before Nov. 4. Plenty of Marylanders both Republican and Democrat, own and enjoy owning guns. Saying in an ad that Hogan was opposed to an assault weapons ban likely emboldened these gun owners to come out and vote for him. Those ads were essentially free pro-gun advertising that I'm sure went down very well for Larry Hogan in my home county of Harford, where people like their guns just fine.
What about the other half of Brown's platform? On one hand, he said Larry Hogan was dangerous for being against the state's assault weapons ban which likely backfired, but even more dubiously Brown tried to claim Hogan was anti-woman. What exactly does it mean for a candidate to be anti-woman? Does it mean they're a misogynist? Misogyny is in fact the word for aversion or discrimination towards women, is it not? Therefore, it wouldn't be a far stretch to say that calling Larry Hogan anti-woman was essentially calling him sexist, or a misogynist.
What could Hogan have possibly done to face accusations of misogyny? He surely must have made some very sexist remarks at some closed door meeting, perhaps harassed or even struck a woman at some point. Nope. Larry Hogan has never done any of those things. The basis of the anti-woman attack on Hogan was that he is pro-life, including in cases of rape and incest.
This was no isolated incident in the 2014 elections. In Colorado, Senator Mark Udall lost reelection to Republican Congressman Cory Gardner in a race Democrats were thought for months to be favored in. What lost such a seemingly safe seat? Much like Anthony Brown in Maryland, Senator Udall foolishly based his entire campaign around the idea that Gardner was, you guessed it, anti-woman! And just like in Maryland, the Republican being attacked had no history of actually doing anything sexist. They were merely pro-life.
You might be thinking, "Here's another pro-life man trying to defend government regulation of what a woman can and can't do with her body." Well, get this, I'm pro-choice! I'm a pro-choice individual who actually acknowledges that those who disagree with me are not raging, full blown misogynists. What's my reasoning you might ask? I'm happy to oblige.
First and foremost, I don't buy the idea that people who are pro-life hold that position because they seek to control women's bodies. This is a myth perpetuated by many Democrats as part of the "War on Women." To attack the pro-life position as a "War on Women" is to completely ignore the much more widely cited reason for being pro-life, which is concern that fetus's being aborted are in fact alive and sentient.
Now, being pro-choice I believe there is no cause for such a concern. I value the well-being of women and girls who have financial, emotional or physical need to terminate a pregnancy, more than that of a fetus, which is to my knowledge not substantially viable or sentient during the first two trimesters (the stages in which 99.99 percent of abortions in the U.S. take place with 91 percent being in the first trimester). However, such concern for the fetus is a compelling argument.
If a qualified, impartial person showed me evidence of fetal viability and self-awareness, I might be inclined to question my pro-choice position, or perhaps even change it. I guess I'll never be elected to Congress, where stubbornness in one's views seems to be key to getting elected. That being said, I'm proud to have an open mind.
Here's another reason why pro-life individuals are not inherently sexist. It's seemingly obvious but is almost completely ignored in the abortion debate. Tens of millions of women are pro-life. According to Gallup polling, as many as 41 percent of women identify as pro-life. That's almost half!
Did Anthony Brown and Mark Udall intend to convince voters that almost half of all American women are self-hating sexists, Hell-bent on waging war on... themselves? Regardless of their intentions, women saw through their illogical and downright dishonest allegations. Both candidates lost easily winnable races.
Women are smart. Democrats know that right? I mean come on! You've got some of the smartest women in the world as your rising stars. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and let's not forget your all but anointed nominee for President, Hillary Clinton. Women see through cynical pandering.
Next time, try running on your accomplishments. It's not like you have a dearth of other issues to talk about. Same sex marriage and the minimum wage have been trending your way for instance. However, if you use those issues, please try to refrain from calling people against same sex marriage homophobic and those against an increased the minimum wage classist. Instead, try actually having an honest debate about the policies themselves. You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Similarly, you'll catch more votes with good policies, than with disingenuous accusations of prejudice.