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May 2 2016

Gender Politics, 2016: The Women Card versus the Wild Card

Charlotte Hays

The Washington Post has a big story this morning on gender politics in this year's presidential campaigns. Headline: "Gender Politics Playing a Big Role for Trump, Clinton."

We knew that Mrs. Clinton would play the "women card," which for Clinton and other Democrats really means making government bigger in the name of helping women.

What is completely unanticipated is the Trump element. The Post story begins:

She has no stamina. She shouts. She’s got nothing going for her but being a woman.

Donald Trump, after toying with gender politics off and on during the campaign, is all in on a mission to undercut Hillary Clinton’s credentials by syncing up his say-anything campaign strategy with his alpha-male persona.

The same Republican presidential candidate who mocked “little” Marco Rubio, dismissed “low-energy” Jeb Bush and promises to “cherish” and “protect” women as president is dismissing the former senator, secretary of state and first lady as little more than a token female who’s playing the “woman’s card.”

“Frankly, all I’m doing is stating the obvious,” Trump insisted, when pressed about whether his latest Clinton take-downs were sexist. “Without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to run for city council.”

That message may resonate with one subset of the electorate and touch off outrage with another. But for many other voters, Trump’s line of attack is simply baffling when America is trying to deal with far more complex matters of gender, such as gay marriage and transgender rights.

Actually, it is baffling that in 2016, when women outnumber men on college campuses and a woman is running for president, that gender discrimination gets traction as an issue. But it is a large part of the rationale for a Hillary Clinton presidency.

If Hillary is playing the gender card gender as expected, Donald Trump's response is like nothing we've ever seen. Unlike most male Republicans, an unafraid Trump throws Hillary's gender attacks right back at her. He does this not by taking on issues but by going after her hypocrisy (if you want to know where there really is a gender wage gap, look no further than Mrs. Clinton's office--and then there is the matter of the  Clinton family's notorious attempts to ruin women who claimed sexual misconduct on the part of Bill Clinton).

While this seemed to deter Clinton for awhile, she's now boldly back on the gender theme. And there is a downside to Trump's handling of gender: he clearly has  "issues" with strong women (or maybe just with women, given his ugly comments about women and his marriage and divorce sagas).

There are plenty of women (including your humble blogger) who believe that, if he is the Republican nominee, Donald Trump has the potential to be Todd Akin on steroids and that his candidacy would breathe new life into the left's phony "war on women" rhetoric.   

The Washington Post story goes on:  

Trump’s messages about women represent a tangle of views, said Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at the City University of New York.

There’s the Trump who has no qualms about advancing women within his business enterprises, the Trump who disparages women just because “I can say whatever comes to mind,” and the retrograde Trump who never outgrew an adolescent fixation with desirable and beautiful women, Renshon said.

“I don’t think he knows how to talk about them in a modern sensibility way,” said Renshon, adding that the billionaire businessman is not used to having his utterances corrected by anyone.

Trump rival Ted Cruz says the GOP front-runner’s attacks on Clinton are unsurprising.

“Donald Trump has a real problem with strong women,” Cruz said. “It’s one of the reasons he can’t win a general election.”

The story recapitulates some of Trump's most famous nsults.

As Hillary plays the gender card, Trump is the wild card.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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