On Tuesday, the “wave election” that Republicans had been talking about for months finally occurred. Democrats lost control of the Senate, the GOP increased its advantage in the House, and picked up key governorships in deeply blue states such as Maryland and Illinois. The 2014 midterms served as a historic defeat for the Democrats and an overwhelming referendum against the direction the country is currently headed with President Obama at the helm. You wouldn’t notice that from hearing Obama’s press conference the morning after though. Along with not taking any responsibility for how the election turned out, the President said that he didn’t want to try and “read the tea leaves on election results” implying that coming to conclusions based on his party’s severe defeat would be somehow trivial. Besides being very out of touch, it is what we have come to expect from this administration that seems to have adopted a “nothing is my fault” mentality. Perhaps Obama is uncomfortable reading the tea leaves because of what he might discover upon reading them. It is clear the Democrats made a series of miscalculations in how they handled their individual campaigns. The most egregious mistake they made during this midterm election cycle was doubling down on the “War on Women” strategy that they created out of thin air during the 2012 election. The election results show that women, as well as men, did not fall for this strategic rhetoric and it appears time to give up on that manufactured issue once and for all.
First, it is important to understand what the “War on Women” actually is because the mainstream media has done an extremely thorough job of conflating the issue. When Democrats say the phrase “War on Women”, that is code for opposing them regarding birth control and abortion at any level. The recent Hobby Lobby case is a perfect example of that point. Democrats everywhere rallied to fight against Hobby Lobby by pretending that the company was refusing to provide birth control to it’s employees for no reason other than they were Christian and didn’t believe in them. This narrative helped them advance the idea that the Christian right was oppressing women. In actuality, Hobby Lobby currently provides its employees with 16 of the 20 forms of birth control that are required as part of the Obamacare mandate. The remaining four forms of “birth control” are actually abortion pills which terminate a fertilized egg, a procedure that Hobby Lobby objects to on religious grounds. The remaining four forms of birth control are easily accessible at Planned Parenthood as well as at several retailers. Given the substantial accessibility of the forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby refused to cover, the Supreme Court held to allow corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. This essentially means that the court voted that certain demands of the “contraceptive mandate”, as part of the Affordable Care Act, were not the “least restrictive way” to ensure access to contraceptive care. The Supreme Court held that to deny this right to Hobby Lobby would have constituted religious discrimination. This issue was never about oppression it was about corporations being allowed to claim religious exemptions from federal laws and that claim was upheld by the highest court in the land. The simple fact is that no women lost access or were prevented from accessing birth control and that is because the Affordable Care Act already had legislation written in it that passed the cost of birth control on to the insurer if the employer objected on religious grounds. The Supreme Court ruling simply extended this rule to apply not only to non-profit organizations but to for-profit as well. Again, no women lost access to birth control in the Hobby Lobby case, but the “War on Women” narrative overshadowed the reality of the situation, much to the delight of Democrats.
Furthermore, not a single Republican Senate candidate in the 2014 midterms ran on a platform to outlaw abortion or limit or deny birth control rights. Not one. The only time abortion or birth control was ever brought up during this election cycle was when the left-wing media was trying to corner a Republican with a “gotcha” question as a tool to paint them as an opponent of women’s rights. It’s important to remember that the first time birth control even became an issue, as it related to the “War on Women” narrative, was during the 2012 Presidential election when George Stephanopoulos, out of nowhere, cited the ruling in Roe v. Wade and asked Mitt Romney if he believed that states should have the right to ban birth control. Romney responded very appropriately by saying, “George this is an unusual topic that you’re raising”, and went on to definitively deny that he would ever support any legislation that attempted to ban contraception and that he could not even imagine any circumstances under which this would be necessary. Romney was right, it was extremely unusual, but Stephanopoulos, being a long-time Democratic operative who understands the power of the tactic of using “a bell that cannot be unrung”, knew exactly what he was doing. By asking such a ridiculous question, Stephanopoulos was attempting to insinuate Romney’s stance on a divisive topic and thus putting the burden on Romney to prove that he doesn’t support a policy that he has never supported in the first place. This really exposes the “War on Women” for what it is. It’s an attempt by Democrats to call Republicans sexist without necessarily having any proof, and then counting on them to squirm as they try to defend themselves so that the squirming can then be used as an admission of guilt in the media. It is a very effective tactic that has worked very well, until now.
Another manner in which Democrats attempt to frame the alleged “War on Women” is through their obsession with gender inequality in the work place. Democrats fundamentally count on gender identity politics to get voters worked up based on illusions of inequality based on gender. Democrats have been pushing the idea that women make significantly less money than men to do the same job with the same amount of experience. After signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009, which Obama claimed was a huge step toward equality for women (which isn’t exactly true), Democrats began to run with the idea that women make less money than men. Liberal media outlets, as they are wont to do, have continued to spread the talking point that women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make. This statement has been exposed for being extremely disingenuous. There are several reasons that explain why the statistics for female employment can falsely portray women as making less compared to men, when the statistics are reviewed generally. The myth has been debunked time and time again, and not just by conservatives. Despite the insurmountable fixation Democrats have with wage inequality based on gender, the President surprisingly doesn’t seem to really believe that gender equality is an issue. It is difficult to believe that Obama takes this issue seriously because his own White House pays women less than men to perform the same job. Luckily, the private sector, as usual, has done a better job of ensuring that women are treated equally in the work place than the government has. Could it be that this whole “War on Women” argument is being used as a deflection?
This leads to the conversation about the failures of the candidates who used gender inequality as their primary talking point. There were no bigger champions of the “War on Women” myth than Wendy Davis and Sandra Fluke. You could argue that Fluke created the “War on Women” a few years ago when she came to the realization that Georgetown, the Catholic institution where she was attending law school, did not provide free birth control to it’s students. Rather than paying out of pocket for birth control at a cost of less than $10 per month, Fluke decided to demand that all women be provided free birth control by their school or employer in order to not compromise their “health care rights”. Sandra was an instant hero on the Left as they quickly seized on the situation as an opportunity to demonize the Republicans who were the only people to question such a blatant disregard for religious liberty. After Rush Limbaugh increased her visibility by calling her a rude word, Sandra Fluke faded away into relative obscurity until recently when she announced she was running for California State Senate. One would think that Fluke would have no problem winning an election for such a low level political position in an extremely liberal state, but instead she lost by a 20 point margin.
Wendy Davis made a name for herself in 2013 when she took to the floor of the Texas State Senate and filibustered for 13 hours in protest of an abortion bill that aimed to make abortion safer by closing down clinics that weren’t up to state standards and outlawed abortion after 5 months of pregnancy. According to Wendy Davis, this law was unacceptable and her stand garnered national attention and even trended on Twitter using the hash tag #standwithwendy. This is a perfect example of how Republicans were not trying to outlaw abortion entirely, but rather late term abortions for the purpose of denying the termination of a fetus that is capable of surviving outside the womb. Democrats could only read this situation as an attack on a woman’s “right to choose” and could not pass up the opportunity to divide people based on gender. This filibuster catapulted Davis into the national spotlight and resulted in her winning the Democratic Primary in the Texas Governor race by 60 points, thus making her the first woman to do so in the state of Texas since 1994. Wendy Davis became an instant media darling and she found herself being profiled in Vogue magazine and widely considered a shoe-in to become the next Governor of Texas. A lot of things happened that hurt her campaign, most notably the fact she seemed to waffle on her abortion stance when she claimed she supported a ban of late term abortions but not if the woman and her doctor didn’t agree with the ban; (which isn’t really a ban). Davis stuck to her guns and hammered her opponent Greg Abbott at every turn regarding abortion and even claimed that Abbott had no right to speak about abortion because he is a man and he doesn’t understand how hard it is to be a woman. Davis even tried to accuse Abbott of being anti-woman because he doesn’t support sex toys (even though her claim was completely baseless aside from also being totally irrelevant). This obviously reeked of desperation and the Texas voters made it very clear they weren’t buying into the cheap and divisive tactics. Wendy Davis was defeated by Greg Abbott by a huge 20 point margin, similar to Sandra Fluke in California. Two female Democratic superstars, both running on an outspoken “War on Women” platform, were soundly defeated by 20 points. The most damning piece of evidence in favor of the people being tired of the “War on Women” argument lies in the demographic breakdown of the votes in the Texas Governor race. How did the women in the state vote? The group that has the “war” being waged against them surely showed up at the polls to fight back right? Wrong. Women voted for Greg Abbott 52%-47%. Don’t feel bad for Wendy Davis though, she already has a job lined up at MSNBC. Stay tuned.
It was also interesting to watch what unfolded in Iowa when the Democrats had to convince the voters that Republicans were waging a “War on Women” when the Republican candidate was in fact a woman, Joni Ernst. Hillary Clinton had no problem with that task and she came to Iowa in person to campaign for Ernst’s opponent Bruce Braley, a man. Clinton claimed that it’s not enough to be a woman, you have to be committed to expand rights for all women. To Hillary Clinton, a woman does not know as much about being a woman as a man knows if she doesn’t agree with 100% of the positions that Democrats have on abortion and birth control. This statement is really astonishing and it shows the fundamental disconnect that the Left has with anyone who doesn’t agree with them. The “tolerant” Democrat Party is willing to tell a woman that a man knows better than her simply because she is a conservative. This really invalidates the entire “War on Women” argument because if the discussion is only applicable along party lines, then how could it possibly be relevant to all women? The result of this race was similar to those previously mentioned, Ernst won easily. Hillary Clinton inadvertently made it clear that the “War on Women” is nothing more than a political tool. A tool that has run its course.
Mark Udall’s Senate campaign in Colorado serves as another perfect case study for examining the repudiation of the “War on Women”. In 2008, Mark Udall won the race for Senator of Colorado while winning the female vote by 15%. He assumed that he could take that momentum and continue to exploit that demographic for his own gain. He went at his opponent, Cory Gardner, at every turn even going so far as to make the ridiculous claim that Gardner wanted to ban condoms. Udall also ran an ad telling the people of Colorado that Gardner wanted to ban birth control which also was not true. It can’t be emphasized enough how strongly Udall tried making this argument and it got so bad at one point that even his own donors were heckling him to tone it down. Udall’s obsession with these women’s issues earned him the same result as all the other Democrats who pushed the “War on Women” platform; he lost.
This election was without a doubt a message that the country is not happy with the current administration. House Republican incumbents only lost 2 seats which rejects the theory being pushed by the White House that this election was a referendum against incumbents and Washington gridlock. It was an embarrassing result for Democrats no matter how you slice it. The “War on Women” tactic was used by almost every Senate, House, and state level candidate and it not only fell flat, in many cases, the female electorate soundly rejected it. Facts show that while things are not perfect, the corporate landscape is very conducive to the success of women and certainly the government is not the answer to solving the remaining problems, as evidenced by their own practices. It is also clear that employers aren’t bound to pay for all forms of birth control no matter what, according to the Supreme Court. Abortion is becoming less popular, not more popular as the media would have you believe, and the Democratic belief that easy access to any form of abortion at any time is all that women care about, has been rejected. It is likely that we haven’t seen the last of the “War on Women” myth, but at least for today, the voters have resoundingly pushed back against the insinuation that women aren’t smart enough to think for themselves, much to the chagrin of the Left.
– Andrew Mark Miller