by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The midterm elections made one thing clear: Republicans have officially lost their grip on women voters. Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have long struggled with the idea of working to increase the number of women in politics.
In reaction to the “identity politics” of the left, they insist ideas and policies are all that matter, and that sex is largely irrelevant. The right is wrong. A person’s sex matters more than most are willing to admit, and a shift in perspective is needed if we want a diversity of perspectives and sensible policies moving forward.
At last, it seems some are waking up to the party’s “women problem.” Retiring Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in an interview that the GOP needs to “step up its game” on “younger candidates, female candidates, and candidates of color.” Rep. Steve Scalise threw his support solidly behind Rep. Elise Stefanik’s effort to get more women elected to public office, tweeting “We need more talented women like you in Congress. I’m proud to support your efforts.”
It’s about time. Too often, Republicans overlook that politics is not one-dimensional. It’s a combination of performance––the policies one stands for and the actions taken in public office––and perception, or the image of a party or candidate. Sex matters on both fronts.