In her essay, “Musical Chairs,” Rebecca Solnit parses the numerous splits in American politics. I particularly like her description of the Republican party. She charges it “preaches the gospel of austerity while running up deficits,” and extols individual rights, “except for women.” (“Unmusical Chairs”, by Rebecca Solnit, Harper’s, July 2018, pg. 4.)
With regard to The Women’s Movement, both Republican and religiously conservative women have long remained outside the circle. Politicians who sought their votes stuck to the muscular issues of budgets and national security. In a pinch, they fell back to opposing abortion. But Solnit points out the #MeToo uprising may have gone mainstream. Recently, a cabal of Southern Baptists women drove Minister Paige Patterson from his post once they learned of his callous advice to women who were locked in abusive marriages. (Click)
What recent data shows about women, regardless of differences in race and economic standing, is their common interest in social issues. They see government as a “nutrient parent,” rather than a strict father; they are twice as likely to say that giving to charity is “the most satisfying part of having wealth.” (Ibid, pg. 6.)
In 2016, white Republican woman turned away from Hillary Clinton. Since then, there has been a softening. (Click) That softening enlarged as images of immigrant children, traumatized by being torn from their parents, flooded the news.
Michael Kimmel, author of Healing from Hate, reminds us when we talk about right-wing extremists, from the Islamic State to the alt-right, we are talking mostly about men. (Ibid, pg. 6.) With the 2018 mid-term elections upon us, President Donald Trump may have realized the political risks of a rebellion led by women. He has rescinded the order to separate children from their families. A smart move. Nonetheless, identity politics is here to stay. This new split in American politics has the capacity to heal. Women could make us whole again.