Winning the women’s vote has been an acknowledged problem for Republicans in recent elections, and one conservative pundit believes he has the way to fix it — namely, “reinforce the authority of traditional culture.”
R.R. Reno, editor of the online political journal First Things, published his essay, “The Dilemma Facing Social Conservatives” on Thursday, in which he argues that the the typical unmarried woman who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and tends to vote Democratic in most elections, simply “wants to get married and feels vulnerable because she isn’t and vulnerable because she’s not confident she can.”
The reason such women reject Republican candidates, Reno says, is that they feel “judged” by Republicans, who oppose same sex marriage. Because Republicans advocate banning all marriages other than those involving heterosexual couples, Reno’s hypothetically typical unmarried woman feels that the GOP is telling her that “her life isn’t on the right path.”
In fact, as Slate Magazine writer Amanda Hess explained Reno’s argument, an ummarried woman, “should support the party that wants to force people into traditional marriages, thus improving her chances of getting married herself.”
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama won 67 percent of votes from unmarried women. But he also won the votes of unmarried men decisively, by 16 percentage points.
Republican Mitt Romney won the votes of married women, 53 percent to 46 percent.
Reno admits that he is puzzled by why “a woman whose 401K already exceeds $1,000,000 and who owns a condo worth almost as much (would) be so concerned to expand public support for in-home care of the elderly?”
Rejecting the possibility that the empathy such women feel for elderly people may derive from basic human decency, Reno concludes that this position arises in a woman “because she’s not married and feels as though she’s going to have to take on all the responsibilities of life on her own—a prospect that is indeed daunting.”
The immediate rebuke to Reno’s argument delivered by Hess, in turn drew a response from Reno.
“What I find so frustrating about our liberal establishment is that people like Amanda Hess don’t face up to their problem,” he wrote in the riposte. “They support a cultural politics that deconstructs traditional modes of authority for the sake of individual freedom.”
Reno also extended his argument regarding “traditional modes of authority” to transgendered people.
“Nine times out of ten, a ‘transgendered’ individual would be far happier if he or she were simply told, with effective authority—you’re a boy or girl,” Reno writes.
At the same time, Reno attacked the arguments of Hess and other progressives against his position regarding unmarried women and Republicans as “painfully simplistic.”