Political Animal

Blog

July 15, 2014 12:58 PM Mansplaining Public Policy (With a Little Help From Renee Elmers)

By Ed Kilgore

This report from Slate’s Dave Weigel on a Republican Study Committee (the conservative majority of the House Republican Conference) panel on how to talk to womenfolk is just too rich:

The RSC, like the larger GOP, is on a messaging-to-women binge. North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers, a leadership favorite who’s often put forward when the party wants a female messenger on health care or jobs, explained that men failed to bring policy “down to a woman’s level” and thus lost votes.
Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that … we need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.
Reading that, I thought of this week’s Republican message, read by Senate candidate Joni Ernst… and how she focused on the promise of the Balanced Budget Amendment (a dead idea that polls well) because government should run its affairs like “you” run the household. No pesky charts there! And I remembered the RNC’s messaging push of late June, when RNC vice chair Sharon Day argued that women were “not single issue voters” but human beings whose “priorities are the economy, government spending, education, and healthcare.” There’s a little bit of fantasy here, similar to what Democrats engage in when they ask why poor working class whites don’t vote en masse for them. They’re allowed to consider other factors when they vote.

The analogy Weigel draws to Democrats who agonize over the voting habits of “white working class” folk isn’t entirely apt, but it does apply to those who think the problem is simply one of poor communications or “framing.” Thus the hilarious efforts of Republicans to mansplain public policy to The Ladies by avoiding any of that complicated “higher level” thinking are instructive to all kinds of people in politics who don’t want to face the fact that some voters just disagree with them.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus