This Is Not Great-Great-Grandma’s GOP

Marsh BlackburnWith political news so depressing (see, for example, my last article), I find I spend most of my fun hours each day working on a totally awesome high tech project that I still can’t talk about. But there are stories that come by that while still in a fundamental sense depressing are also deliciously fun. And we got a great one this afternoon via Caitlin MacNeal at Talking Points Memo, Blackburn: GOP “Led the Fight for Women’s Equality.” Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn told Face the Nation yesterday that all this Democratic talk of a conservative war on women was “almost silly.”

I like that she pulled her punch there. So it isn’t up to Bugs Bunny. It’s more Popeye the Sailor. Or something. But Blackburn got to her main point, “It is Republicans that have led the fight for women’s equality. Go back through history, and look at who was the first woman to ever vote, elected to office, go to Congress, four out of five governors.” You gotta love that! This is what Republicans always say, “Of course we’re a vile party now. But go back a hundred years and you’ll see we weren’t always!”

What have the Republicans done for women recently? Not much. MacNeal quotes a Huffington Post article that noted that Blackburn herself voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This was the act that made it so that people could take legal action against discriminatory pay when they find out about it rather than when it secretly happens. Blackburn has said that women “don’t want” equal pay laws. I have little doubt that if Blackburn had been around before the Nineteenth Amendment, she would have claimed that women didn’t want the right to vote either.

But Ed Kilgore wrote this afternoon, Equal Rights For Women and the GOP: I Wouldn’t Go There, Sister! He noted, the Republican Party really was good about civil rights in the past. At one time they were for African-American rights and women’s rights. But that isn’t who they are now. Really:

If you “go back through history,” you do find a lot of Republican support for equal rights. Indeed, the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced by two Republican members of Congress, and was subsequently endorsed in ten consecutive Republican National Convention platforms beginning in 1940.

The streak was broken in 1980, never to be revived, at the request of you-know-who and his supporters. Remember that every time Republican pols talk about their record of support for equal rights even as they genuflect to the memory of Ronald Reagan.

The rich love Reagan because he reduced their taxes and eliminated many regulations. But the base primarily love him for making the culture war seem reasonable. Cutting welfare wasn’t about economics; it was about getting those welfare queens. And taking the ERA out the platform was about taking a stand against uppity women. This is not your great-great-grandmothers’s GOP.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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