It isn't just Maine Senator Olympia Snowe who notices an increasing dearth in elected Republican women. Mary Kate Cary has noticed it too, and is far less likely than some Republicans to attribute it to the mean Democrats. Like Snowe, Cary thinks it's a Republican problem.
Snowe blamed it, in part, on the increasing ideological purity tests within the Republican party.
"[We] as a party are saying we're not supporting Republican moderates. That's a terrible message to send," said Snowe, who with her Maine counterpart Susan Collins represents 50 percent of the Republican women in the Senate. "It tells everyone else in America who might have an interest in running as a Republican moderate, they're going to have to think twice. The messages coming out of the national party are critical. They've got to be embracive and inclusive of political diversity. They can't on one hand say we're going to build a majority and then say we only want people with certain characteristics, like white males from the South. That's a concern to me."
Of course, at the rate the GOP is losing Senate seats, white men from the South may be the only ones left who can win any seats.
Cary agrees with Snowe whole-heartedly.
The negative campaigns at all levels, the extremist rhetoric coming out of the right wing, the litmus-test mentality of those accusing others of being "RINOs"-Republicans in Name Only-all present a less-than-welcome message to moderate women who believe in limited but active government, a strong defense, and market-oriented solutions to the economic downturn. Right now, to most reasonable women-like my sister-the GOP isn't much of a democracy.
Cary, by the way, was a speechwriter in the first Bush Administration, so she's no Janey-come-lately to the Republican party.
No woman wants to be seen as intolerant or mean. And that's how the Republican Party is coming across these days. For a lot of GOP women I know, the cringe factor is high. They don't want to hear talk radio's Top 10 List of Who Should Leave the Republican Party. They want to hear a broader message of inclusion and diversity. They're not single-issue voters, and they're not even "women's issue" voters anymore. They want to be part of the debate about the looming Obama agenda, especially when it comes to keeping their families safe in the war on terrorism, fixing the economy in ways that don't bankrupt our children, and reforming healthcare without a government takeover.
I don't know about "no woman," but the Republican party's problem with the perceptions of people who don't scream about Obama's birth certificate and immigrants takin' their jobs and Nancy Pelosi's looks and how the GOP shouldn't be like a whorehouse is beginning to rather well-documented. It certainly isn't helping the GOP with women at a time when electoral, incumbency and demographic trends are making it harder to Republican women, when they exist, to win office.
Related: A Passion for Anonymity: Mary Kate Cary [University of Virginia Magazine]
Yet Again, Media Figures Respond To A Pelosi Controversy With Attacks On Her Looks [Media Matters]
Rick Perry Aide: Don't Open Up GOP Like A "Whorehouse" [Huffington Post]