The Republican National Convention did its best on Wednesday to boost President Donald Trump and his administration as pro-woman, including by repeatedly highlighting the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the U.S. There were just a few problems, including that the evening before, the convention featured Abby Johnson, a woman who has argued that only heads of households ― usually men ― should get the right to vote.
Johnson, who spoke about her opposition to abortion rights at the RNC on Tuesday, supports “head-of-household voting” and just a few months ago tweeted that “In a Godly household, the husband would get the final say” on voting. She’s since defended that stance.
A day later, women’s right to vote was a major highlight, interspersed with other glowing testimonials by women in Trump’s orbit about his strengths as a boss, father-in-law and leader. Sure, the president has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 20 women, presided over a current economic downturn that disproportionately affects women and rolled back reproductive rights for women in the U.S. and around the globe.
But at least the 19th Amendment still grants women the right to vote.
Multiple speakers nodded to the anniversary of the amendment, often directly followed by saying Trump has benefited women. “On this 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, I’m proud to report that under President Donald Trump we achieved the lowest unemployment rate for women in 65 years,” Vice President Mike Pence said.
In a montage video narrated by Lara Trump, campaign adviser and the president’s daughter-in-law, the convention touted the hard work of American suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Later in the night, Lara Trump discussed how women “thrived” at the Trump Organization and praised the president for helping women move up the economic ladder, pointing to women’s low unemployment numbers in 2019.
“He will uphold our values. He will preserve our families,” Lara Trump said. “And he will build upon the great American edict that our union will never be perfect until opportunity is equal for all ― including, and especially, for women.”
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway also took the stage to talk about how Trump hires and promotes women in his administration. And White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany praised Trump for his kindness, noting he routinely asked how she was doing during her first pregnancy.
But even though the president has been good to these specific women, that doesn’t mean other women have fared well with him or in his administration.
Out of the 23 members in Trump’s Cabinet, only four are women. And Trump’s administration has stopped collecting pay equity data and other key gender metrics during his 3½ years in office, which could help reveal and stop sexist pay practices.
Economic gains are also quickly falling apart. The COVID-19 crisis that the Trump administration has done little to deter has created a historic economic crisis that is hitting women the hardest. Although women are 49% of the workforce, they suffered 55% of the job losses in April amid the coronavirus crisis, a National Women’s Law Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found in May.
And for all of the celebration of the 19th Amendment, the right to vote is still incomplete. Plenty of women of color were still unable to vote after its ratification a century ago. The RNC this week celebrated the amendment without noting that voting rights are still very much at risk as politicians push measures that make it harder to cast a ballot.
That includes Trump, who wants to limit voting by mail during the pandemic ― forcing voters, including women, to either abandon their hard-won rights or risk contracting the coronavirus to exercise them.