Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Question for Conservatives

For Mother's Day...I suspect I've asked this in the past, but since we're in the recruitment season for 2014: Republicans have elected some women governors, but have fallen far behind Democrats in electing women to the House and Senate. Is that a problem? Any idea of why it's happened? What, if anything, should Republicans be doing about it?


  1. We Republicans mostly believe in open primaries, so there is no party elite in most states that can clear the way for women to receive House and Senate nominations without contested primaries. So Republican women will have to raise money and run good campaigns to win Republican primaries, the same as Republican men do. I would oppose any affirmative action for women by having party leaders clear paths for them in primaries.

    1. Assuming that's accurate, that doesn't explain why women have been successful in gubernatorial GOP primaries but not congressional GOP primaries. Just a statistically insignificant happenstance?

  2. The Democratic party has a greater proportion of women and a much greater proportion of professional women in its membership. In addition, those who are of a certain generation came of age when conservatives were often quite hostile towards the prospects of professional women (some would say that's still the case today, but it's nothing like it was even just a few decades ago). So a lot of it is demographic, just as there are probably demographic reasons to explain why Republican Congressmen are, on average, younger than Democrats.

    I'm not opposed to party-lead efforts to expand women's role (in either party), but I'm skeptical that it would do anything more than put a female face on the current power structure.

    But the more interesting question is whether it is even possible to approach parity with our current system. Our Constitutional system is designed to attract the most ambitious power-seeking men to positions of high office and to incentivize them to use their power for the common good. Is it possible that there are more power-seeking men than women? I think it is.

    Whether it's by nature or nurture, men are far more likely to commit acts of violence in our society. Historically, it was generally men who took up arms to plunder, kill and coerce their neighbors. Government gives these men a way to get what they want with a minimum of unpleasantness.

    So as I see it, women have two options, which can pursued simultaneously: 1) Make a more concerted effort to compete for power with men 2) Strive for a system in which the exercise of power is even more socially harmless than it is today.

    1. Not a conservative, but this speaks somewhat to Couves' points:

      Unfortunately, they didn't break down the results by party. But, based on surveys of pools of "pre-politicians" (basically, lawyers, teachers/professors, and businesspeople in managerial positions), Fox & Lawless find that women don't run for office because, compared to men, they think contests are more competitive, are less personally competitive, are more risk-averse, are less likely to think they're qualified, are less enamored with modern campaigns, and are less likely to be asked than men to run.

      Of those things, only the last is solely within the realm of the party to deal with. Most of those seem to me to be either social or psychological in origins (I've seen research showing 3 of those things to be consistent with other cultural gender differences...I have an armchair-psychological reason for why those might lead to the others (essentially, cognitive dissonance reduction, once you assume the others)).

    2. Matt, thanks for mentioning that research, it's very much in line with what I was thinking.


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