Are GOP Women Baby Makers-in-Chief?

3 years ago

Despite former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin giving the keynote address at CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- last weekend, the top straw poll picks for presidential candidates in 2016 were all men: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Chris Christie. Thrilling. Perhaps we could run a woman for Baby Maker-in-Chief.

March 8, 2014 - National Harbor, District of Columbia, USA - Former Governor Sarah Palin (Republican of Alaska) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Maryland on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Credit: Ron Sachs / CNP (Credit Image: © Ron Sachs/DPA/

Sadly, due to it being Women's History Month, I got to thinking about the many contributions to the world made by women. What are the celebrated contributions of women in the Republican Party today, besides offering up our uteruses as a social wedge issue?

Funny enough, this Republican woman is about to have her second child. She also provides our household with its sole income by running a business to support her college-going husband and toddler. But not just three weeks ago, I was shooed out of my own house (and office) by a contractor to "go spend some of husband's money."

But here's where the social norms of both sexes gets it wrong: Is it that the GOP is sexist or do women make themselves irrelavant?

Before you scream, hear me out.

Can GOP women join the political fight as early in life as men? Yes, and often before they have families. Once an apartment becomes a household, women find their lives consumed with making the family machine run smoothly. It would take sacrifices - from them and their partners (if they're around) - to make it all work.

But here's the rub: what about no kids? Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice cultivated a highly successful career, sans the kiddos. But would the public shun a childless presidential candidate?

Before you think that's crazy, consider how ingrained Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman's motherhood was as a talking point when she ran for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. As a political consultant, I can assure you she didn't do that because she had nothing else to discuss. Polling told her that she needed the public - Republican voters especially - that she's a homemaker and a mom.

And what about all the flack Palin took for daring to run for vice president when she had kids at home. Some even mockingly called her husband Todd a "stay-home dad." The horror. God looked down into the Palin house and saw the crockpot empty. Burn her at the stake!

Just recently, Bachmann made headlines saying the country isn't ready for a female president. Ouch. Sounds backwards, and it is. But is she wrong? Or was that her experience within her own party? Or are we all just a bunch of hypocrites?

Just this weekend, I finally caught the latest Sarah Silverman HBO special, "We Are Miracles," and there was one part that wasn't funny at all. In fact, it made me a little sad.

"Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up," Silverman began. The crowd chuckles because they wrongly smell a set-up. "I think it's a mistake. Not because they can't, but because it would have never occured to them they couldn't."

There it is. "You can be anything you want, Erica. You could even be president."

Oh gee, I could? Swell.

Imagine telling a boy: "You could be anything you want. You could even be a dad."

Back when Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced her run for junior New York state senator, I was a journalism student. I interviewed campus professors and other subject matter experts to write a class story on the race.

A political science professor sat down with me in his office to discuss why he thought she was a valid candidate, noting just before we concluded that he would "love to see Bill play second fiddle."

The remark stuck with me all these years like a bitter pill in my throat. So, until then, she was the second fiddle? Is that really what it's about? The battle of the sexes equates to keeping keeping score and men only play "second fiddle" when the woman somehow manages to break free from a strong thumb?

Today, the nation seems far more willing to consider a female president. A poll last May shows 86 percent of American are ready to cast a presidential ballot for a woman. That might just be political correctness talking, but even if those numbers are heavily skewed, that's progress.

The timing seems ripe for women in 2016. Too bad the GOP didn't get behind recruiting and cultivating some of it's best and bright women leaders to take on the national spotlight, including charasmatic governors like New Mexico's Susana Martinez, South Carolina's Nikki Haley and Oklahoma's Mary Fallin.

Because here's the truth: If the GOP is counting on the nation voting for a male candidate just because he's not Hillary Clinton - they might want to re-think that strategy. She's not the second fiddle anymore.

Erica Holloway is a BlogHer Politics & News contributing editor and principal at Galvanized Strategies.

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