NEW YORK—Jittery over the women’s vote, George W. Bush’s campaign will dump all its heavy-duty female firepower into New York. In an event called the “W Stands for Women” event at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday afternoon, the dais will be full to overflowing with his mom, Barbara Bush; his daughters, Barbara and Jenna; his sister, Doro; and Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne (with her straight daughter, Lyn).
Bush can focus on women because he probably thinks he has a lock on the other gender. Young white men in the South are said to love him because of the president’s swaggering “Fuck You” style. Not to mention the Washington press corps, which gets down every time it gets to see Bush shifting his balls around like an Alabama state trooper.
However, most women may not see things in quite the same light. Many of them view Bush as a disaster for themselves and their families. More women than men vote. They potentially are a force that can be easily energized to support lackluster politicians, even, when push comes to shove, the mind-numbing Kerry. If Kerry could pull his ear away from the drones at the Democratic Leadership Council long enough to attend to a few of their interests, women might very well turn out to be his secret weapon.
In the 2000 election, women represented 52 percent of the total electorate, but 22 million unmarried women didn’t bother to vote, according to the Kerry campaign, which claims that 73 percent of that group now want a change in leadership.
According to the August 25 USA Today, a survey of Gallup polls over the first half of 2004 show that, overall, registered women voters are evenly split between Bush and Kerry. Married women tend to support Bush, but unmarried women tend to support Kerry.
There are signs that Bush is ready to move to some sort of compromise with pro-choice Republican women. Earlier this week, the party’s platform committee voted 74-18 for language stressing that the GOP is the party of the “open door,” contending that its members “respect and accept” that Republicans “have deeply held and sometimes differing views.”
“We are encouraged that pro-choice Republicans and social conservatives are finally at the same table,” said Jennifer Stockman, national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, a group that might well cause problems for Bush’s re-election campaign. Stockman added, “We are obviously disappointed with the strong anti-choice language throughout the party platform. We have a long way to go to end the intra-party fighting, but this is a positive step in the right direction.”
The Republican right’s direction, however, has been well-known, particularly its anti-abortion stance. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg: Bush’s entire social policy is organized around sex roles, so that you qualify for things like welfare, tax breaks, unemployment insurance, and health care based on where you do it, how you do it, when you do it, and, of course, with whom you do it. To the Christian fundamentalists, fucking makes the world go ’round.
And there are other aspects of Bush’s social policies that hit women where they live. Last night, The Feminist Press, which published a collection of essays on administration policies called The W Effect: Bush’s War on Women, edited by Laura Flanders (feministpress.org/newreleases), held a symposium on the subject. At the event, as in the book, one author after another rattled off the different ways women have suffered under the current administration. A few examples:
Additional reporting: Laurie Anne Agnese