Republicans looking forward to claiming the Senate majority that eluded them in 2010 and 2012 got a rude awakening last week when it became clear that Democrats intended to dust off the War on Women playbook for a third time. The blue team trotted out hashtags and #tbt Instagram photos of a time when women's bosses didn't have a say about their birth control. And the fact that former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made headlines again? Delectable dressing on the wedge-issue salad. Democratic strategists across the country undoubtedly channeled their inner Mr. Burns, muttering "excellent" while excitedly wiggling their tented fingers. Some Republican strategists are ignoring the headlines and seem satisfied with betting on the fact that the War on Women Part III will fare as well as "The Hangover Part III." To be fair, conventional wisdom about the president's abysmal approval rating does indicate that it's a very safe bet to make.
For a majority of American history, and human history in fact, society viewed women as little more than pretty packages that could produce children. It wasn't that long ago in America that women were viewed as their husband's property. And the ability to have and raise a child is still top priority in much of the Western world. Can you imagine if Catherine, duchess of Cambridge, was unable to produce an heir? The humanity!
American women fought like hell to change society's perspective. The very notion that endangered Democrats are turning women into nothing more than birth-control reception devices called voters is not only archaic, it's insulting. Democrats want women to reelect them, so they've decided to be "for" women by painting signs that say they are "for" birth control. As a woman, that's infuriating. Anyone who sees me as nothing more than a pack of pills does not deserve one iota of my attention and certainly not my vote.
It's no coincidence that quite a few of the co-sponsors of legislation in both the Senate and House to counteract the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision are fighting for their political lives in hotly contested re-election campaigns this year. In The Hill's news coverage of the legislation, vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE from Alaska is quoted as saying that birth control was "the topic" on the campaign trail in his home state.
Let's think about that for a minute. Does anyone really believe that women across Alaska used the few precious minutes they had with a sitting senator to talk about birth control? Really? What about the women whose families no longer have healthcare at all because of ObamaCare? What about the single women struggling to find a job that meets their own ambition in the Obama economy? What about the women whose hardworking husbands aren't able to provide for their families, or just as likely, can't provide for their families like they used to? Does the woman who cried herself to sleep after yet another fight about money really take the time to talk to her senator about birth control? The answer is no. She asks her senator why he hasn't done more to help her family make ends meet and plan for the future. She asks him why she shouldn't fire him for his pitiful job performance. And her senator knows that he will have to answer for his failures at the ballot box this fall.
That's the truth. That's why Democrats are terrified. It's why they're trying to distract women voters with scare tactics and untruths. Republicans should call Democrats out for exactly what they are — a party trying to define women solely by their reproductive organs. They must say that they will fight for an America where women are worth more than that. That they will fight for the best interests of the entire woman, in addition to her birth control. That they will create an economy of opportunity where all women can achieve their dreams, whatever they may be. An America where women won't have to think about who is paying for their birth control, because they, their spouses, or both parties have the jobs they desire and the benefits that follow. An America where a woman is championed as a whole person. It's not 1955. It's 2014. It's time for Democrats to act like it.
Zelt is a Republican communications adviser and an alumna of both the Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.