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After the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision Democrats are hoping to use women's issues to increase their share of the women's vote over the substantial advantage they enjoyed in the 2012 election. A portion of that advantage was credited to the foot in mouth fiasco of Todd Aiken talking about "legitimate rape". The Republicans are struggling with their usual internal divisions in coming up with an approach to dealing with the issue. The far right religious conservatives have come up with their preferred strategy. They are organizing religiously conservative women to front for them.

Conservatives Hone Script to Light a Fire Over Abortion

It was not on the public schedule for the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting at the stately Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. But inside a conference room, a group of conservative women held a boot camp to strengthen an unlikely set of skills: how to talk about abortion.

They have conducted a half-dozen of these sessions around the country this year, from Richmond, Va., to Madison, Wis. Coaches point video cameras at the participants and ask them to talk about why they believe abortion is wrong.

They review the video, and critiques are rendered. “ ‘Rape’ is a four-letter word,” one of the consultants often advises. “Purge it from your lexicon.”

Another tip: Keep remarks as short as possible. “Two sentences is really the goal,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion group that hosts the boot camps. “Then stop talking.”  

That fighting notion cuts against the counsel of others in the Republican Party who have warned candidates to tread gingerly around divisive social issues, a lesson from the intemperate comments like the one about “legitimate rape” that cost the party dearly in 2012. The Republican National Committee’s own assessment of the party’s losses in 2012 hit this theme repeatedly, saying that “we must change our tone.”

But a vocal group of social conservatives, dismayed both by their party’s apparent dismissiveness of their passion and by the Democrats’ success at portraying Republicans as prosecuting a “war on women,” are rewriting the anti-abortion movement’s script. The problem, they argue, is not that conservatives talk too much about social issues, but that they say too little, and do it in the wrong way.

This gives the appearance of an organized and well funded undertaking. It is not just a bunch of pro-life types mouthing off at a sparsely attended Tea Party rally. It is being funded by The Susan B. Anthony List, that anti-abortion organization that has appropriated the name of an early feminist. They are using sophisticated campaign technology of polling and focus groups to craft a consistent political message. Marilyn Musgrave,  the fire breathing pro-life former congresswoman from Colorado is one of the major players.

While they would be quite happy to swing the votes of centrist independents, their primary objective seems to be firing up the passions of the right wing base.

Some Republicans say that making abortion a larger part of the party’s message this year will increase the turnout of their base, which could be decisive in the three Southern states — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — that are crucial to Democrats’ hopes of holding on to their majority in the Senate. And they are beginning to experiment with making their message on later-term abortions appeal beyond just the base.
The key change is this strategy from the past is cultivating women spokes persons for their cause. By and large the face of religious conservatism has been white men telling women what is their Christian duty. That comes out of a culture in which men are traditionally expected to have all leadership roles and the women who have identified with that culture have ascribed to the tradition. Having women come forward with a well polished campaign is an effort to discredit the messages of feminists and their supporters.

This is a classic conundrum of political strategy faced by both parties. If you try to tone down the rhetoric and appeal to independents in the center, you risk alienating your more ideologically motivated base. The base isn't going to go out and vote for the opposition, but they may get angry and stay home. This time around it seems to be a problem plaguing the Republicans more than the Democrats. However, looking beyond to 2014 election, there is increasing evidence of a right wing campaign to roll back the clock on 50 years of social progress. It is unlikely that they can make it be 1955 all over again, but they can erect some significant obstacles such as Hobby Lobby.    

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Comment Preferences

  •  Right-wing women have always been... (11+ / 0-)

    ...part of the reserves in the war on women.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:57:08 AM PDT

    •  They have been there. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Portlaw, FloridaSNMOM

      They have been visible in things like anti-abortion demonstrations. The effort to turn them into the public face of the movement seems to be something of a new wrinkle.

      •  Something of a new wrinkle - you're punny (0+ / 0-)

        It's not a new wrinkle - the Repub boys are just letting the little ladies have a voice (emphasis on letting).   They have decided they have to let the wimmenz speak - but not too much - two sentences - and never mention the word rape - because republican women don't get raped.   It's no different than the black and gay repubs stumping for the party that hates them.
        It is news they are actually letting their wimminz speak - even if it is only 2 sentences.   However, it will fail.  Any woman with half a brain can see through the bs.  It's just another doomed-to-failure repub strategy.

  •  About right wing culture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, BadKitties

    There is something of a culture of right wing "feminism."  

    Some conservatives tend to take their view of women as property quite literally and are willing to use the tactics of the antebellum South to enforce that.  However, this doesn't play well outside the hard right.  (And do you think the likes of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann really think they are controlled by their husbands?  (You think that her husband is going to continue to pull down big bucks at BP if he's not connected to Caribou Barbie any more?  And as for Michelle Bachmann -- well, I'll spare everyone the rather distasteful analysis of her marital situation.)

    Put simply, the strategy here is to present an obviously successful and influential (at least in RW circles) person as both rich and famous but fully subservient to the Strict Daddy.  It's all smoke and mirrors but it plays to the right wing masses.

    •  They are definitely trying to modify the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      image, but has the leopard actually changed its spots?

      Do Palin and Bachmann represent progress for the interests of women? That is not a question that I can answer with a simple yes or no. But I do find it difficult it to see it that way.

      •  No they don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Richard Lyon

        Thus, "feminism" is in quotes.  Furthermore, they believe, in their Orwellian way, that Freedom Is Slavery.

        At the same time, there is a tendency for these people to try to imitate the broader culture (this isn't the only place where that happens -- ever accidentally tuned into "gospel rock" while driving through the rural parts of your favorite red state?).

        So they don't represent the best interests of women, including their own interests.  If the right wing were to overthrow the constitution, all of their considerable financial assets would be confiscated and Bachmann would be booted out of office.  And they would be expected to keep a low profile and serve their husbands, and all the rest.

    •  Also...separating the "good girls" who (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liberaldregs

      pay attention to the economy, while denigrating the "sluts" who care about birth control and choice. Both of which, duh, directly affect one's personal finances and the economy as a whole. Somehow that never gets mentioned. I suppose because the daddy is expected to handle all of that. Sigh.

      I yam what I yam --Popeye

      by BadKitties on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:54:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keep in mind... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that in the eyes of the religious right, nothing means what it means in standard English.

        A "good girl" is someone who can keep house, bear children like a puppy mill for Quiverfull, and be the sexual vessel of her husband.

        "Choice" is the "choice" to know (personally) their notion of God.  (Thus the anti-abortion bumper sticker, "it's a child, not a choice", which means something very different to the faithful.  But, "it's state property, not part of your secular nuclear family" doesn't make a good sound bite.)

        Religious fundamentalists have no concept of "paying attention to the economy" since economic events are basically an indicator of one's moral standing with God.

        And even Strict Daddy is not an absolute leader.  He's just a first line officer, responsible for keeping his unit in line.

  •  Any chance some media person might (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, BadKitties

    mention how rare late-term abortions are?  Or the reasons for them?  Any chance liberal women might be even more motivated than the forced birthers are?  I'm sensing this will be a big failure.  My conservative friends are suddenly too busy for politics, or really annoyed by those of us who are speaking out.  "There are other things to talk about, you know."  "Not when an entire political party thinks I'm a walking incubator there aren't.  Not when we're still making less than men do for the same job.  Not when my daughter could be jailed if she miscarries.  Not when rape is my fault.  Not when people cheer about an Iraq war Vet losing SNAP benefits."  "Well I just don't have time to worry about everything that happens in this country."  " Then vote for Democrats and you won't have so many issues to worry about."

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:20:30 AM PDT

    •  The outcome of it remains to be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I love OCD, FloridaSNMOM

      determined. One way to measure it would those specific senate races that they have targeted.

      •  I'm actually thinking Wendy Davis could (3+ / 0-)

        be governor of Texas and Republicans will be wailing and gnashing their teeth in November.  But I'm really caught up in local politics right now, and maybe overly exuberant about the excitement here.  

        I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

        by I love OCD on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:28:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would be very happy to see Wendy Davis (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          I love OCD, FloridaSNMOM

          governor of Texas. I think that these sort of right wing tactics to use abortion as a wedge issue will likely play a major role in that campaign.

          •  The "Abortion Barbie" rhetoric seems a bit (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Richard Lyon, jacey

            scaled back.  I think someone realized it was energizing the Dem Base.  Trolls still fling it but Abbott has dropped it AFAIK.  And Wendy was smart in her responses- pointed out that women's healthcare, not abortion, was the issue, and Republicans were denying basic care to millions of Texas women based on a single issue.  She hit hard with abortion being 3% of PPs services, and men in Texas were blocking the cancer screenings, physicals, birth control counseling and access that make up 97% of their services.  I may be in a blue bubble but there are a lot of women in my area who are appalled that women in need are being sacrificed to a political stunt.  

            I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

            by I love OCD on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 12:22:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This new initiative seems to be an attempt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              I love OCD

              to take a more subtle approach to the issue and avoid blatantly sexist confrontations that fuel the Dem base. I don't know what success they will have with it, but it is shrewder politics than what they have been doing.

              •  I agree, shutting up would be wiser. But that's (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Richard Lyon

                nearly impossible for Republicans.  A day that passes without a chance to denigrate someone you fervently hope is your inferior is a day without an ego fix you can't live without.

                I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

                by I love OCD on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:23:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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