Does The Influx Of GOP Congresswomen Signal A Paradigm Shift On The Right?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

 

You might have noticed that despite seemingly winning the presidential elections, high-profile Democrats are still big mad over their performance in the 2020 election. They lament the reality that they lost seats in the House of Representatives as well as several state legislatures. To make matters worse, they have a very slim chance of winning both Senate seats in Georgia. 

But this isn’t the worst of it. 

Republican voters, who are supposed to be rabidly sexist, will have elected at least 36 women to Congress after all is said and done. Some of these newly-elected lawmakers also happen to be minorities. There is already talk of some of these individuals forming a group to rival the Democratic Party’s “squad.” 

The Guardian reported that “Of the 12 seats in the House of Representatives that Republicans have flipped from Democratic control so far this year, nine were won by women, two by Latino men and one by an African American man. The trend represents a conscious effort by a party still dominated by white men: diversify or die.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Actually, yes I could, and have said it better. Is this election a harbinger of a paradigm shift on the right? Has the GOP electorate finally realized that it must diversify and widen its tent if it wishes to remain relevant? 

Kat Cammack, who is about to become the youngest GOP congresswoman at the age of 32, weighed in on the widespread perception of the Republican Party. “I think a lifetime of experiences has shaped me to be a Republican and a conservative,” she told The Guardian. “There has been a stereotype about the Republican party, that it was the Grand Old Party, that it was your grandfather’s political party of choice. The election in 2020 has definitely helped push back on that narrative.

Cammack indicated that she believed the GOP made so many gains in Congress because Democrats failed to put forward a winning message. She pointed out that the left relied on their usual “government will take care of you” trope and took certain voting groups for granted. “Biden had several gaffes: most notably he said, ‘If you don’t vote Democrat then you’re not Black.’ What kind of ridiculous nonsense is that?”

Excellent question. 

The representative-elect recalled that when she met other newly-elected lawmakers, they focused on the issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare, and the economy, over identity. “We never once went out and said, ‘Vote for me because I’m a woman,’ or ‘Vote for me because I’m a millennial’.

“It was always, ‘Vote for me because I’m the best person for the job and here’s why,’ and that is what is resonating with people. I think this narrative that if you are African American or if you are a minority or if you’re a woman you have to vote Democrat couldn’t be further from the truth and the results from this election prove that.”

Pollster John Zogby gave his two cents as well, noting that enlarging its tent is the only way the Republican Party can survive. “They’re still basically a lily-white party and they’re still a male-centered party, but let’s see if this is a formula for them. Frankly, if they have any hope at all, this is the only formula,” he told The Guardian.

The news outlet acknowledged that this “breakthrough” resulted from a grassroots effort by political action committees like E-Pac, Winning for Women, Maggie’s List and Value in Election Women (VIEW). These groups pushed hard to support more diverse candidates. Julie Conway, the executive director of VIEW told NBC News that this change has “been a long time coming.” She said:

“I think everybody’s looking for the magical reason why 2020 was such a good year for Republican women, but the reality is, it’s a combination of a lot of things over a lot of years … seats that were winnable, and incredible women running for those seats, and the infrastructure around them finally at a point that they were able to get at least some of the help they needed to get them over certain obstacles and then they were able to be successful because they, quite frankly, worked their tails off.”

Perhaps this occurrence signals that the right is finally realizing that it must appeal to more Americans, including women and minorities if conservatism is to have a fighting chance. The fact that President Trump managed to increase his support among non-white voters shows that the GOP can begin making inroads in other communities if it is willing to put forth a genuine effort. 

There are certainly those in the establishment that will be pushing to go back to the way things were before when the party only gave lip service on the subject of a larger tent. But this election shows that conservatives see that business as usual won’t cut it anymore. In the coming year, we can expect to see a civil war of sorts between the establishment and the new breed of conservatives empowered by Trump and other factors on the right to push for change.

This is not an insignificant reality. The victor of this conflict will determine the direction of the former Party of Lincoln in the years to come. Either way, the battle for the soul of the GOP has already begun. 

 

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