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There's a story in today's New York Times that I think could be one of THE most important trends in this year's presidential election: How the Republican Party has managed to send women fleeing in droves away from GOP candidates. The article has some pretty mind-blowing interviews with Republican and Independent women who consider themselves "centrists" and are thoroughly disgusted with the Republican Party's War on Women. I didn't see anyone else diary about this, and I think the story is a harbinger of an important trend that will have devastating results for the Republicans this fall.

One of the women interviewed for the article is Mary Russell, 57, from Iowa City. She's a retired teacher who describes herself as an evangelical Christian and “'old school' Republican of the moderate mold." Until a baby shower two weeks ago, Russell didn't realize that she had a political viewpoint on women's health issues, but that's all changed now:

But somewhere between the baby name game and the gifts, what had been light conversation took a sharp turn toward the personal and political - specifically, the battle over access to birth control and other women’s health issues that have sprung to life on the Republican campaign trail in recent weeks.

“We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago,” said Ms. Russell.

When the Republicans start getting women at a baby shower in Iowa City riled up against them, that means they're in deep doo-doo. But there's more:
Until the baby shower, just two weeks ago, (Russell) had favored Mitt Romney for president.

Not anymore. She said she might vote for President Obama now. “I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations,” Ms. Russell said. As for the Republican presidential candidates, she added: “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”

Dear Republicans, please note that this is a retired, Republican schoolteacher from Iowa City saying this. Go ahead and try to call her a "slut" or a "feminazi" and see how well that works for you.

Another inspiring story in the article was about Jessica Lopez, 27, a registered Independent who voted for George W. Bush (ugh). The Republican's War on Women prompted her to attend a rally for women’s rights in San Diego last week. The Republicans' debate on contraception and abortion made her realize that she had to get behind President Obama.

“This has really energized me, that I need to get more involved with the Obama campaign,” (Lopez) said...

“The G.O.P. has never been so clear about their agenda for women. I’m afraid if we get a Republican president, my health will be up to their personal discretion.

You think?

There's much more. Like Deborah R. Stevens, 63, who lives near Myrtle Beach, SC. She's a self-described “dyed in the wool” Republican who says she feels hopeless.

“I’m looking for a candidate that will be honest, that will come out and say, ‘Yes, I support women, I want you advanced and not trampled upon,’ ” said Ms. Stevens.
And there's Joyce Kimball, a retired secretary in Greenville, Ill., who voted for McCain in 2008:
(Kimball) said she had recently become “fed up,” adding that it was not out of the question for her to vote for a Democrat in November. “I’m looking to hear how the candidates propose to put people back to work, not what they think about contraception,” she said. “I hope to God they stop talking about this.”
It should be noted that many of these women use words like "may" or "might" when talking about voting for Obama, so we still have a lot of work to do to win them over in November. And there's no doubt that once the primary season is over, Mitt Romney will do another massive flip-flip and try to paint himself as the world's greatest champion of women's rights. But all we have to do is remind them of how President Obama handled the assault on Sandra Fluke compared with how Mitt Romney did:
Mr. Romney’s reaction to Mr. Limbaugh’s statements about the Georgetown student cemented (Mary Russell's) negative view of him. “I expected him to have the guts to stand up and say what Rush did was wrong,” she said. “Wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word wrong.”
"Wrong" indeed. "Wrong" is also the best word to describe how Republicans have handled women's health issues and women's perspectives in general during this election season. Perhaps 2012 will we another Year of the Woman, when women stand up together - Democrats, Independents, Republicans - against the Republican Party's War on Women and say "Enough!" (with all us men who support them standing right behind them in unison, of course!)

Originally posted to davidkc on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Pro Choice, and Sluts.

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