After last week's tsunami of Republican victories, the GOP would do well to consider bucking for a new nickname. Instead of the party of “NO,” they can be the party of “yes, we'd love to help you get your non-sub-par insurance with access to actual coverage and specialists back.” Instead of the party of old white men, they can be the party who elected an eighteen-year-old coed who ran her campaign out of a dorm room.
No doubt about it, the Republican party did major damage this past week to the War on Women narrative that has propelled many a Democrat who was weak on policy to an undeserved victory. The President comes immediately to mind. So what can the Democrats do to get their narrative back?
Well, they missed a major opportunity this past week when the Senate voted on leadership positions as they shift from majority party to minority party status. <I'll wait while you do the “Harry Reid lost his job” happy dance.> Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) even went public with her intention not to support Senator Reid <Yes, I am aware you're still dancing.> in his bid to become the Senate minority leader. And as I noted to friends, of course she didn't support Senator Reid. One of the biggest opportunities the Democrats had to rebrand themselves as the party of women would be to make room for new female leadership in the Senate – particularly someone they might be grooming for a future Presidential bid. Senator Elizabeth Warren or perhaps even McCaskill herself would be the obvious choice in that case.
Not surprisingly, they failed the party of women by failing to elect a woman.
And that's not even the worst of it: not only did the Democrats reelect a glaring example of old white man when they could have opened themselves up to new, female leadership – they also blocked the vote of a woman within their own party.
Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat Representative from Illinois, has been barred from travel by her doctor due to her pregnancy. Fellow Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) submitted a proposal that would have allowed Duckworth to participate in leadership elections from home – a proposal that was killed by House Minority Leader Nancy “Republicans want women to die on the floor” Pelosi. Maybe I should also mention that Representative Duckworth is also a wounded Iraq war veteran – she lost both legs in a helicopter accident.
There is also suspicion that Pelosi's motivation for denying Duckworth a proxy vote may be related to tight races for other leadership positions, namely retiring Congressman Waxman's position on the House Energy Committee. Pelosi is supporting Anna Eshoo of California for that position, but Rep Duckworth had joined Minority Whip Steny Hoyer in support of New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone.