By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
There is a moment in the Star Wars saga when Chancellor Palpatine ripens into the Dark Lord, otherwise known as the Emperor. The formerly beautiful democratic Republic melts into oblivion and evil reigns supreme. It’s the central theme to the whole story, all the many epidoses of it – evil hiding in plain sight that becomes too powerful to contain, throwing the balance of the force into chaos.
At this point, that doesn’t feel like a galaxy far, far away anymore. It seems to be playing out in realtime in the Republican Party — or at least that’s how it looks from the bleacher seats where the liberals like myself sit. And it leaves me wondering, how it looks to rational Republicans, especially Republican women, who were once proud of their party and the family values it supposedly stood for. I wonder if they can see what’s happening or if they are blinded by party loyalty.
And then I remember when it happened, near the end of Obama’s first term when there were rumblings from within the party that the far regions of us to the left were unhappy with him. The uber-lefties felt like he was too centrist, like he sold out on important issues. They complained he didn’t fight the Republican stalemate hard enough when it really mattered. There was eyebrow-raising about PAC money into his campaign and special interest influence on his presidency. Some people thought he conceded too much, too often, and looked weak, or worse yet, corporate sponsored. And by the way, there were a lot of these people, and they created the presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.
I balked – resolutely defending him, refusing to bend in my loyalty.
Why? Obama is my boy. I literally gave my first born to his first campaign. I traveled the nation during both of his campaigns working to get him elected and then re-elected. I bought into the Audacity of Hope hook line and sinker – and for the record, I still adore him. I do not see him as a perfect president or a perfect man. However, I think he’s a great man through and through and was great for our country.
Looking back, I’m not proud of the way I saw the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I followed the party line to the tee. I strongly felt Monica Lewinsky was a pawn, but I never saw her as the victim she actually was. I had a hard time seeing my President as a power-abusing sexual predator. I didn’t doubt he did it. However, I figured all powerful men did things like that. It’s just the way they are. You know, boys will be boys. Party loyalty colored my perspective in a way I couldn’t see at the time. I see it now and I’m ashamed.
I believe in Universal Healthcare. Of course, I believe in free college tuition for everyone. Politically, I am probably a democratic socialist. That said, I don’t always vote the party line. In fact, there are some issues where I part ways with my party routinely. I have voted for a couple of Republicans and run Republican campaigns when I felt they were the right candidate for the district. However, for the most part, I’m a party loyalist to my core. I have blue Democratic blood running through my veins. My parents are Democrats. My children are Democrats. It’s a large swath of my identity.
So, I ask myself often, would I have the clarity and the courage to defect of my party had gone insane? I think the answer is yes, I really do. However, loyalty is a powerful force and identity is even more powerful. Usually, identity is absolute. My identity tells me I am a Democrat every day of the week, every week of the year.
In the face of children in cages and an alleged serial rapist Supreme Court nominee, I sincerely wonder how my sisters from the other party are doing. I wonder how they felt casting ballots for the “grab ’em by the pussy” candidate. Trump blatantly disrespects and disregards women and it works for him. His venomous hateful rhetoric about women inspires applause and cultlike chants from his base at rallies. It’s not just Hillary. They chanted, “Lock her up” about Dr. Ford during the investigation into Brett Kavanaugh at when Trump mocked her at events.
This isn’t a president that even tries to appeal to women by pretending to care about their interests. To everyone on the left, he looks like a crazy man with a presidency off the rails drifting rapidly towards fascism. So, how is it that otherwise rational republican women sit silently while our democracy goes up in flames??
The truth is, many of them aren’t.
I know more than a handful of Republican white suburban housewives and college educated business women who were the demographic that got Trump elected who have quietly changed their party registrations in the middle of the night. I also know several who’ve been very open and very vocal about their disappointment in the Republican party and even their rage over Republican misogyny and the way the R’s cradle the patriarchy.
Many of them are leaving. While it doesn’t look like a parade of defectors in public, it may very well be just that in private. I can only imagine how painful that is. Identity doesn’t shift easily.
I’m not a very forgiving person. I wish I were, but I’m not. I’m not ready for a reconciliation tour with the right. I’m not in a “love cures everything” kind of mood. I’m angry with the right. I’m especially angry with the women of the right. I feel bitterly betrayed. In many ways, I blame them for where we are. However, we have to start moving past our anger and moving into a dialog that creates change.
Even as I say that I’m not sure how, but I might assume it would start with changing our own rhetoric from how much we hate Trump to talking about the issues we care about that affect women. We also must be willing to listen when they speak. There must be an inclusive conversation big enough for disparate points of view.
Blame isn’t going to get us anywhere. At some point, we are going to need to turn a corner into discussing things we support instead of railing against things we are pissed about.
Blame makes people defensive and when people feel defensive they dig into their positions. Blame doesn’t change hearts or minds. This is why a dialog about issues between women might be a first step on the path out of this mess.
The Republican party is soulless at this point. It hasn’t always been, but it’s lost its way. I fear most Republican men are lost to the darkness right now, but the women, maybe not so much. We cannot give up on them, because they cost us the last election and if we write them off, it’ll happen again.
So, the question remains, what would I do if my party was corrupt, if my President was a Russian pawn, if they’d all built their campaigns on the oppression of women?? What would I have done if Obama had put democracy as we know it in grave jeopardy?
Would I have the clarity and the courage to leave the party – to shift my identity? I hope I would and I hope a Republican sister, someone on the “other side”, would reach across the imaginary aisle and make it easier for me because this isn’t really about R’s and D’s. The only team that matters now is W because if women vote together we all win.
At some point, it’s in our best interests to find a way to build a bridge for those women to leave the Republican party because the Republican party left them long ago and many of them are feeling that. They are feeling a lot right now because let me assure you, their trauma is just as traumatic as ours. Their abusers were just as abusive. Their rapists didn’t check their voter’s registration cards before their assaults began.
And when I say, “at some point”, I mean now. Right now is the time because saving them might just save our democracy.
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Lisa M. Hayes, Senior Editor of Confluence Daily.
Confluence Daily is the one place where everything comes together. The one-stop for daily news for women.