I saw a headline asking this question in an article I read online today:
Can Jindal, Rubio and Ryan Save The Republican Party? It brought back the discussion I enjoyed with a friend over coffee this morning. We were discussing the recent presidential election (what else?) and she said the key to the GOP defeat was the woman voter. The knee jerk reaction - with some validity - was that Republicans failed miserably to win Latino votes and that is a true enough fact. But, a glaring reality is that women vote in larger numbers than any other demographic indicator in elections.
So, I see this headline and immediately my mind edits it to say Martinez, Ayotte and McMorris-Rodgers instead of the male names there. That's a Republican woman governor, senator and representative - same as the men listed. The switch was easy for me to do but what about the rest of my party? My favorite line from the Republican National Convention was delivered by Governor Martinez as she told the story of realizing where her true politicial home was - "Damn, we're Republicans", she told her husband. They made the switch from Democrats to Republicans after that.
Senator Ayotte is being moved into the forefront on national security/foreign policy affairs. The terrorist attacks in Libya and the demands for an investigation into all that being the latest example of her leadership. Senators Graham and McCain have brought her into the fold as the third amigo to fill outgoing Senator Leiberman's place.
Speaker Boehner failed spectacularly to appoint any women as committee chairs for the top tier committees. He did appoint Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress as House committee chairman . She will now rank fourth in the House leadership.
Any or all of these women would easily fit into that piece's headline as saviors of the Republican party. All of these women reach out and support other women in the Republican party. The face of the Republican party has to expand to include more than white men. The bonus is the diversity of women within the Republican party.
Social issues are only a part of the Republican party yet that is what comes to mind when women think of my party. To assume, for example, that Latino women voters will find a natural home in the Republican party because they are conservative on social issues is not the whole picture. Latino women will tell you that they also may be in need of fiscal safety nets and that is where the split often appears. They feel unwelcome in my party. Being a working, productive member of society doesn't mean you can always go it alone.
The Republican party is the party of smaller, more efficient government. We are not the party of no government. There is a real lack of concise communication coming from the most vocal in my party and often the tone is mean-spirited, intentionally or not. The label of compassionate conservative is no longer en vogue and that is a pity. We are a lesser party for that.
The task in front of us is to present a real alternative to the tax and spend Democrats. We have to present a way for those currently in need of safety net programs with reasonable paths going forward. A common thread is a focus on education and school choice as a way to personal economic freedom. Dependency on government assistance limits a person's future and that message can be delivered in a sincere and civil voice.
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Wake up, Republicans. Women vote.