As the Democratic National Convention kicks into high gear tonight with Michelle Obama’s big speech to the delegates in Charlotte, another prominent political woman has just made a forceful statement of her own. In an interview yesterday with the Huffington Post, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.” Not this again.
The “Why don’t all women vote Democrat?” line is an old trope among people who haven’t spoken to a Republican in decades. Here are just a few examples from recent months:
- New York Times columnist Charles Blow: “Why do any women vote Republican?”
- Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee: “Barack Obama is going to be able to be re-elected as president of the United States because women know what’s at stake in this election.”
- Progressive opinion writer Brent Budowsky, writing for the Hill: “How can any woman vote for Mitt Romney?”
And how, here’s Albright:
I’m not sure I’m going to state this exactly right. … But I think there are some who believe they are actually protecting women, you know, and that it is better for women to be taken care of. I think women want to take care of themselves, and I think having a voice in how that is done is very important. And frankly, I don’t understand — I mean, I’m obviously a card-carrying Democrat — but I can’t understand why any woman would want to vote for Mitt Romney, except maybe Mrs. Romney.
It’s true that women are likelier to identify as Democrats than men are. And President Obama leads significantly in polls among women in swing states. But there’s not a straight line between that fact and the assumption that any woman would have to be crazy or self-hating to vote Republican.
Take the abortion issue, offered by many as a signature issue this election season (though neither Romney or Obama seem as eager to discuss it as some of their advocates are). Overall, just about as many women as men identify as pro-choice. Rick Santorum, considerably more conservative than Romney on social issues like abortion, consistently found a higher level of support among women than men when he was running in the Republican primary.
“I can tell you why he does well with me, because he’s strong on family values and he’s very religious,” one 45-year-old voter told the New York Times about Santorum this spring. “I think that this country needs to have a renewal of its moral compass, and this is the man to do it.”
Now that Romney has inherited the Republican mantle, there are millions of anti-choice women who feel the same way about him. And it’s not just social issues that concern women, despite the fact that the “War on Women” has been framed almost exclusively in those terms: There’s unemployment, immigration, education, foreign policy, and the general role of government in our lives. Do we really have to spell this out?
Millions of women are going to vote for Mitt Romney in November, and they’ll have practically millions of reasons for doing so. Just ask Nicki Minaj. (OK, OK, she probably wasn’t being literal when she outed herself in a song as a Romney voter.) The fact that Albright can’t figure any of these reasons out indicates more about the bubble she operates in than the Republican Party or the women who support it.