Traditionalism: The Foundation of the GOP’s War on Women
“The only way to keep a woman happy is to keep her barefoot and pregnant.” Arthur E. Hertzler, the ‘Horse-and-Buggy Doctor’
The principles of American Conservatism have been defined as respect for American traditions, choosing republicanism over federalism, upholding Judeo-Christian values and the rule of law, defense of Western culture from perceived threats of multi-culturalism, moral relativism, and the devaluing or deterioration of traditional culture; reliance on capitalism as the most efficient and equitable economic system vs. socialism or communism; and advocacy of American exceptionalism in foreign relations.
A good many conservatives think that whatever they believe, liberals will choose to believe just the opposite. Just to be contrarian. What else would explain liberals’ consistent failure to acknowledge common sense? What they don’t seem to realize is that while their system of political thought and action is based on valuing the static and monolithic, the system of thought and action among liberals is based on managing the dynamic and polymorphic. They focus on maintaining the status quo. We focus on managing a changing status quo. That’s where the fundamental difference lies. It’s a difference they detest.
Conservatives love to talk about the past as examples of what America was, and could be again, if only the country would cleave to conservative principles (as outlined above) the way a biblical husband should cleave to his biblical wife. One of their favorite examples is the Eisenhower Era — for them, a time of peace and prosperity when America held it’s rightful place as both the leader/defender of the free world and the economic engine of western civilization. Conservative leaders look back wistfully on that Utopia of Yesteryear and blame godless, socialist liberals for advancing anti-American policies that are undermining our traditional strengths and hastening the country’s moral, spiritual and economic decline. Take for example Rep. Michelle Bachman’s statement on Hardball several years ago, calling for a return to McCarthyism, that had Chris Matthews shaking his head in disbelief: “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?”
Conservatives yearn for a yesterday that never was. They look to the past through the distorting lenses of a false nostalgia, a counterfeit history, and cite it as an example of a Lost Camelot we need to find again. They fail to look with objective eyes at the whole of an era and judge it on all its merits and deficiencies. To do so would require polymorphic thinking. Instead, they look to TheDonald® for his promise to return the country to those halcyon days of yore, his promise to “make America great again.”
And they believe with all their hearts; oh my yes, they believe. Brothers and Sisters, can I get a witness?
Their related belief that liberals … anti-American liberals … socialist, non-Christian, baby-killing liberals … stand in the way of a return to the Utopian America of Neverwas is what justifies the conservative’s continuing intransigence on legislation, their continuing insistence on budget-cutting, their continuing threats to shut down the government, their astonishing treason in attempting to undercut President Obama’s nuclear disarmament initiative with Iran, and their willingness to use the power of government and taxpayer’s money to attempt to discredit a Democratic candidate for the presidency. All’s fair in love and war; they consider politics a form of war by other means.
This belief system is also what justifies their continuing War On Women. GOP policies towards American women can be easily encapsulated: Keep ’em Barefoot and Pregnant. The evidence is quite clear: 1) Refusal to enact legislation ensuring equal pay for equal work; 2) Refusal to support women’s reproductive and other gender-specific health needs; 3) Refusal to support policies that help women in the workplace such as extended maternity and post-partum leave, affordable child care, sick child leave, etc. 4) Continuing attacks on women’s health providers including both private clinics and Planned Parenthood; 5) Undermining social safety nets that benefit poor and elderly women including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 6) Blocking women’s access to the polls, along with other demographic groups that vote majority Democrat. 7) Blocking passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
But, once again, what conservatives choose to believe about the gilded past is simply wrong. Here are some elements of the Republican platform in 1956:
So just for kicks, kids, let’s take a walk down the primrose path to Wayback When and — just for a moment — we’ll sojourn there for a moment to re-live the vaunted years of the Eisenhower Era. We’ll enjoy reading about “traditional” attitudes among Americans with regard to the “traditional” roles of men and women in marriage and in society as exemplified in the pages of newspapers across the country including the Eugene Register-Guard and the Sarasota Journal as published on May 21, 1958 …
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