Olympia’s choice

4 March 2012

So this is the rock/ hard place scenario the Republican Party has gotten itself into: it demands such lockstep partisan behavior from its elected senators and congresspeople that it has created an impossible situation for at least one of its stalwarts.

Here’s my question: could the Party’s stand on birth control be so extreme that it becomes the tipping point for its own elected women?

I hasten to note that although Olympia Snowe was the sole Republican to vote against the Blunt Amendment (which would have given employers veto power over their employees’ health care), she has not blamed her party’s view of birth control, or its new embrace of personhood for driving her out of office. In a  She says she’s retiring because of excessive partisanship:

“…our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.”

But Snowe was not the only Republican woman to waver when it came to this ridiculous amendment. Susan Collins (Snowe’s joint senator from Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) ultimately voted with their party, but Collins remained undecided all week and Murkowski’s vote demanded that she refute her own longstanding support for women’s access to birth control.

Now, if Collins and Murkowski had gone against their party leadership to oppose the amendment, they likely would have been punished — by having their committee leadership taken away or whatever means by which Republicans so successfully get their members in order. (I hasten to note that the Democrats, ever the un-herd-able cats, have never managed such uniformity. Three of their own senators voted with the Republicans on the Blunt Amendment.) Snowe could vote with her conscience because she’s retiring.

Olympia Snowe has been a representative from Maine since 1979, first as a member of the House of Representatives and as a US Senator since 1999. If she had run for re-election, there’s no doubt she would have won. Her announcement about retiring has removed a sure-thing seat from the Republican Party and left it open to possible Democratic control. I want to know: will the Party’s radical anti-women policies ultimately paint such a picture of stark gender essentialism that it alienates its own women members and even drives some out of office?

8 Responses to “Olympia’s choice”

  1. I simply do not understand how any marginalized population could vote for a current Republican. Snowe was just right of center and she is no longer representative of the Republican party.

    • Didion Says:

      No kidding! I’ve spent a lot of time wanting Snowe and Collins et als to go further with their “moderation,” only to find them returning to the Republican fold. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I’d love to see a major divide open up within the party, so I’m looking for possible sources of a divide.

      The Tea Party was one possibility originally, but now that seems to have become the new Republican normal. Sigh.

      • Didion Says:

        And one more thing: Rush Limbaugh has been married 4 times to women all clearly in their childbearing years (he gets older, and the wives all stay the same age). Tell me exactly how he has failed to have a single child in his 61 years?

      • Exactly! The Tea Party Platform of fear, hate, and misogyny is now the new Republican Platform. Huge sigh here as well.

  2. Spanish Prof Says:

    I’ve seen women defending the GOP position on birth control on my Facebook wall. When I bring up Rush’s comments, they just say he is an entertainer and shouldn’t be taken seriously when choosing who to vote. It is really disheartening.

    • Didion Says:

      Ugh. Shouldn’t entertainers actually be funny?

      • “…Women defending the GOP position on birth control…” therein lies our problem. Will we have to lose all we’ve gained for these women to wake up?

      • Didion Says:

        Don’t even get me started. The Senator from NH, Kelly Ayotte, is 46 — meaning she might STILL be on birth control. Wonder who pays for that. But she’s a Tea Party type — don’t try to talk logic to those people.

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