By Brent Budowsky - 03/07/11 11:23 PM EST
The ideological assault against programs that benefit women in House GOP spending bills and similar attacks from many GOP governors will give a powerful boost to Democrats in 2012. Today a diversity of women’s groups are contacting me, and their members and supporters, expressing alarm about these assaults. The major media has largely ignored these concerns, but they are widespread, dramatic and mobilizing women.
Republicans face the real possibility that 2012 will bring them not a gender gap, but a gender deluge.
I have been talking to Democrats inside and outside Washington to advocate state ballot initiatives, in the 24 states that permit them, to advance pay equity for women and to mobilize workers, voters and donors to pass them.
It is unacceptable to debate whether women should earn 77 percent or 80 percent for the same work as men. Here is my proposal: 100 percent. Here is my plan: Wage the fight in Washington and states to win pay equity ballot initiatives throughout the nation.
The House GOP spending attacks escalate an assault on programs important to women that Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, describes as “catastrophic.”
A short list of programs under GOP attack include those helping women with parental leave, cancer screening, HIV testing, job training, supporting moms and babies, aging, nursing care, wage theft, fair pay and countless others that threaten women at all economic levels.
From the Hollywood Women’s Political Caucus to women on Main Street and Wall Street, female donors will join workers and voters to support groups, candidates and state ballot initiatives that promote fair treatment for all women.
The power of the pay-equity issue was a significant factor in the 2010 reelection of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a longtime champion of Lilly Ledbetter and pay equity, over challenger Sharron Angle.
It is dangerous politics for the GOP to be so hostile to the interests of a majority of voters and so trapped by an ideology that is alien to a great movement of our times: fairness in pay for women and all workers.
I wrote a column last year titled “The Female Century” and suggested that the rise of women to full equality and achievement will be the great trend of the 21st century, as transcending as “The American Century” was in the 20th century.
The new Newsweek has emerged with an important cover story about “The Hillary Doctrine” that brilliantly describes how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is advancing the cause of women and girls to promote global human rights and American security interests.
Every night the evening news brings powerful testimony of courageous women seeking fairness and freedom around the world. Every day in American life brings new evidence that the rising tide of support for good work and fair wages is the galvanizing issue of our age, for women and men.
A majority of voters in 2012 will be women. If Republicans continue to disrespect their interests, the GOP will face a deluge of female voters turning to Democrats.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.