Last week, a new poll showed that Republicans are gaining again with women ahead of the 2022 midterms.
Considering that the Supreme Court, whose conservative majority was purpose-built by the GOP, is about to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and dramatically reverse women's rights nationally, this is a pretty interesting development.
What would the Republican Party have to do to show women it doesn't quite have their best interests at heart? What gains is it actually offering to women whilst it simultaneously strips them of the right to privacy and in many states the ability to legally make their own reproductive decisions?
It's a puzzle for the ages to try and make sense of why in blunt political parlance, turkeys repeatedly vote for Thanksgiving, or voters who support tighter background checks on military-grade rifles vote for the GOP, the party who cynically do the opposite of what most voters want, but here we are.
Some say the baby formula shortage was a line in the sand for women voters. But whilst criticizing President Biden for not doing enough on the issue, 90 percent of House Republicans voted against providing $28 million in aid to the Food and Drug Administration to confront it.
Interestingly, many of these self-avowed “pro-life” conservatives voted against the bills to bring aid to hard-pressed families because they claimed the legislation, which was crafted to help poor women access more formula, could in certain cases also be used to help the babies of migrants detained by the U.S (as required by law).
So, pro-life clearly only applies if the life in question is a native citizen, but the lives of migrant babies deserve neither our attention nor short-term morality. Life is sacred until it is born, in other words. Then 192 Republican lawmakers can handily vote no on life-saving bills.
Meanwhile, there is stiff competition in the red states to write the most draconian anti-abortion bill in the nation. Not content with cutting off access after fifteen weeks, Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma wants to ban all procedures at the moment of “fertilization.”
Read that again. Some critics call this the 'life begins at erection bill.' If signed into law, the legislation will go into effect after the Court overturns Roe v. Wade and it will rely on self-appointed citizen vigilantes for its enforcement, meaning you have no idea how ugly this is going to get.
Soon, many states will resemble a chapter of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," but as the author herself said recently what is being proposed now is in many cases even more extreme than the dire conditions for women she imagined in her famous book.
So again, what is the GOP offering women in exchange for these assaults on their personal freedom? What trade-off is so alluring that you will watch your daughters grow up in a nation where they will soon have fewer rights than your grandmothers did?
Is it inflation? Is that what is worrying women right now? Clearly, it has surged as pandemic-hit nations begin to hit their stride again. Clearly, it is uncomfortable but the pandemic checks that were sent to each household have actually transformed the lives of many, who still find themselves in better financial shape now despite rising prices than at any point in decades.
The power of women to turn elections is well known. Look at how women voters in Australia just turned out en masse to vote out the ruling conservative party there after a decade of power.
Feminists say 'don't get mad, get organized.' It remains to be seen how the news of the overturn of Roe v. Wade will galvanize the women's vote in the United States. I have to believe there will be enormous popular pushback, but these polls that show Republicans ahead for the midterms make me wonder just how many rights will have to be stripped before the penny drops for the majority of voters.
Will they be in a mood to hold the GOP accountable for recklessly and ruinously overturning a landmark ruling that was settled law for five decades, turning back the clock for all women, and making abortion procedures dangerous where they are not soon actual felonies?