It is labeled “Culture > News,” but from the headline on, a piece of political analysis published late last week in Vogue magazine is remarkably opinionated.
“Why Do White Women Keep Voting for the GOP and Against Their Own Interests?” reads the headline on the story by Michelle Ruiz.
“It’s becoming something of a bleak election night ritual: assessing the exit polls and seeing that white women voters overwhelmingly threw their support behind conservative Republican male candidates. Again,” reads the lead.
“They did it for President Trump, who won an estimated 53 percent of the white female vote in 2016. And they did it with Roy Moore, accused of sexually predatory behavior, in Alabama’s special Senate election last year. And while there were many thrilling, historic wins for progressive women and women of color in particular in the 2018 midterms, as well as data showing that some white women are peeling away from Trump, white women overall rendered more disappointment.”
The latest “gut punches,” Ruiz wrote, were the 75 percent of white women in Georgia who voted for Republican Brian Kemp, who is “passionately pro-life, over Stacey Abrams, staunch protector of women’s reproductive rights.” There was the 60 percent of white women in Texas who voted for Republican Ted Cruz, “a supporter of alleged assaulters President Trump and Brett Kavanaugh.”
And there was Florida, where 51 percent of white women voted for Republican Ron DeSantis, “who has voted against equal pay and the Violence Against Women Act” instead of Democrat Andrew Gillum, who wanted to protect no-cost birth control in the state.”
As a result, Ruiz wrote, “black women have proven themselves to be the often-underappreciated backbone of the Democratic party,” and white women voters “are establishing themselves as maddeningly, confusingly … unsisterly.”
These numbers, Ruiz wrote, “are disheartening and disappointing and, for some progressive white women, shame-inducing, that they are part of a demographic that has the power to decide key elections but continually uses it in favor of candidates whose policies are anti-women.”
White women have never been at the forefront of progressivism, Ruiz argued. She quotes a historian who says women upheld racial segregation, campaigned against the United Nations because it promised opening up racial integration and helped fund Confederate monuments in the late-1800s.
“And yet society at large tends to make an assumption about white women voters – that because they are oppressed by white men and the patriarchy they will stand with progressive social movements and rally in solidarity with the underrepresented.”
But “time and time again some of them have proven that they identify more strongly as Southerners or Christians or GOP members than they do as women – and they vote accordingly, even if and when that vote negatively impacts not only them (voting against equal pay) and their families (paid leave, affordable childcare), but women in poverty, women of color, and queer women.”
They can’t be abandoned, Ruiz notes. They are 37 percent of the electorate, more than all black, Latina and other voters of color combined. “Progressives may have no choice but to unglue from the face-palm position and try to connect with them.”
She cites a Planned Parenthood/National Organization of Women official who has been conducting focus groups with women to determine how to bring more of them into the progressive tent.
“She says that while some see white women’s overwhelming tendency to vote for the GOP as a personal, moral failure, she believes it’s a systemic problem, the result of a yarn ball of issues, including women voters having a lack of information and living with close ties to conservative men in communities that run red.”
These conservative men “control the clicker – tuned to Fox News of course.” And women, busy with domestic work “tune out and end up with a lack of information about politics.”
The goal was “to counteract this cycle of low information, self-doubt and isolation.”