The 2016 Presidential election has brought forward many divisive issues and seemingly split the population into polarizing groups. One of the most interesting ruptures comes from within the right wing, particularly from conservative women.
When the Trump Tape emerged, some conservative women broke their unyielding allegiance to the GOP. In early October during a CNN panel, Republican commentator, Ann Navarro criticized both Trump for his remarks and his supporters who failed to condemn him.
“If you choose to make excuses for him, that’s your choice. My choice is to consider him a disgusting man who has consistently disgusted me from the first day of this campaign. I think every single Republican is going to have to answer the question: What did you do the day you saw the tape of this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s p—y?”
In another discussion on CNN, Navarro argued with Trump supporter, Scottie Hughes over conservative allegiance to the GOP nominee. Hughes acknowledged that while some women may not like Trump they should silence their criticism or vote for him anyway. Navarro asserted it was her right to vote for whomever she saw fit despite her conservative leanings. Navarro further accused Hughes of supporting the “most rude, vulgar candidate” in U.S. History. Hughes’ response was a disappointing symbol of fidelity which chooses to ignore the consequences of its unyielding party support. “I always supported the Republican candidate,” Hughes said, “even when I don’t like them.”
Similar to Navarro, other prominent conservative women are breaking their commitment. Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration, acknowledged the existence of the gender gap in an interview with Fortune, breaking split with the typical conservative stance. Additionally, Meg Whitman, executive at Hewlett Packard and lifelong Republican, openly expressed her support for Hillary Clinton calling for Republicans “to put country first before party.”
At the center of this discord is Megyn Kelly, whose recent exchange with Newt Gingrich demonstrates the growing divide of conservative women and men. The exchange began when Gingrich stated there were two “parallel universes” – one in which Trump loses and another in which he wins. After a disagreement about accuracy of polls, Kelly remarks that Trump’s support has been negatively affected by the Trump Tape. Gingrich becomes furious and what ensues is debacle of comical remarks and interruptions.
“You want to go back to the tapes on your show recently? You are fascinated with sex and you don’t care about public policy, and that’s what I get from watching your show tonight.”
“You know what, Mr. Speaker, I’m not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office.”
This discord was also apparent even at the beginning of the election cycle when in August 2015, Kelly posed a question about misogyny to Trump during the Fox News GOP debate.
You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.’ … Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
Kelly’s question is yet another example of the disengagement many conservative women are experiencing with their own party. These women have growing concerns regarding Trump’s treatment of women but also regarding the dismissive nature in which conservative men sweep aside their concerns as identity politics or imprudence. This frustration also manifested when in October a Republican woman took to Twitter to express her outrage with Trump and the party that stood behind him.
When I saw Republican men getting attacked I stood up for them. I came to their defense. I fought on their behalf. 2/
He treats women like dogs, and you go against everything I – and other female conservatives – said you were & back down like cowards. 6/
Jeff Sessions says that he wouldn’t “characterize” Trump’s unauthorized groping of women as “assault.” Are you kidding me?! 8/
The cost of this ignorance will be paramount for the right wing movement. If the concerns of these conservative women are not taken seriously, the GOP risks losing a significant faction of its voter base.
Don’t forget to share your voting moment using the tag #HerAgendaVotes16.