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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Women candidates not always pro-woman

While the Democratic Party has an assumed presidential nominee in Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party continues to prepare for what will inevitably be a long and feisty primary battle. More than a dozen Republicans are already presumptive candidates.

Yet, until last week, not one of these original presumed candidates were women. This with the announcement by former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, on “Fox NewsSunday,” that she placed her odds of running for president at “higher than 90 percent.” While this still falls short of an official declaration, most pundits now consider Fiorina a candidate for the Republican nomination.

Readers should note, however, that Fiorina is probably not going to win it. For one thing, nobody besides political junkies and dedicated viewers of Fox News knows who she is, and those who do don’t support her.

A recent poll from Politico showed Fiorina receiving just 2 percent of Republican votes in a hypothetical primary. That puts her ahead of Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina but behind 10 other candidates.

So instead of talking about Fiorina’s complete lack of political experience or the 30,000 American jobs she outsourced during her time as CEO, this article will instead focus on another topic, since Fiorina’s presidency is unlikely to ever come to fruition.
How will a woman entering the GOP field for president impact the debates, political ads and outcomes of the 2016 election?

But first, a necessary caveat.
“Most people probably want to see where the candidates stand on the issues that they care about rather than assume they know based on demographics,” writes Patricia Maccorquodale, dean of the UA Honors College, in an email.

The above question is not meant to insinuate women will automatically vote for a woman candidate, or that Fiorina’s candidacy will be more centered on stereotypical “women and children” issues.

Rather, if past patterns are indicators of future actions, the GOP will use the mere existence of a woman candidate as proof that its platform should appeal to women. Or at the very least, that Democrats have no right to accuse the Republican Party of being anti-women. After all, how can an anti-woman party possibly have a woman candidate?

For example, Congresswoman Martha McSally from Tucson ran on an aggressively conservative platform in 2014. She is against legal abortion, with no clear stance on whether she even believes in exceptions for cases of rape and incest; she is against the Affordable Care Act that contains numerous pro-family policies, including coverage for maternity leave and family planning; and she is part of a party whose platform is against passing an equal pay for equal work amendment.

McSally has an inspiring personal story and history of military service, but simply being a woman or a woman who fought in the military doesn’t make her a champion of women’s rights.

Unfortunately, McSally is not an outlier when it comes to woman-centered policies in the GOP. The Republican Platform outlines a complete ban on abortions and an application of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to fetuses. (But not, of course, to LGBTQ adults,including lesbians or bisexual and transgender women.)

Additionally, Republicans in Congress have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act four times. Despite attesting to support equal pay for equal work, the actions of Republican leadership sends a different message.

From a Democratic perspective, the announcement of Fiorina running for president is not worrisome because she poses a legitimate threat to the presidency. Rather, her candidacy means that the GOP will attempt to distract voters from their inequitable platform with the presence of a female candidate.

Hopefully, voters can look past the demographics of the contenders and instead consider the merit of the policies and ideas set forth by each candidate.

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Jacob Winkelman is a sophomore studying political science and English. Follow him on Twitter.

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