By Cheri Jacobus - 06/10/10 09:23 PM EDT
Meg Whitman (R-Calif.), Carly Fiorina (R-Calif.), Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) , Sharron Angle (R-Nev.). There are more, but for the first time in memory, there are actually too many to name and count without resorting to Google.
Republican women running for high office are no longer the anomalies they once were. People are no longer surprised that GOP candidates increasingly happen to be female. And smart. And powerful.
But the worm has turned.
Far from being the cartoon-character “feminists” of the left who hijacked the term a generation ago, this new, modern slate of GOP female candidates seems composed of true feminists — the modern version. To be successful, inspiring and powerful leaders, these Republican women do not seem to feel an obligation to look like men, dress like men, talk like men or behave like men in order to lead and to attract both male and female voters of all ages. Their authenticity, confidence, competency and femininity liberate them from such silliness the left has used to allegedly “help” women politically, professionally and personally.
Sarah Palin likely didn’t know it at the time, but her ascendancy onto the national stage (courtesy of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — God bless him!) turned outdated, angry, bra-burning feminism on its ear. She seemed not to know, or at least not to care, that female candidates (particularly Republicans) weren’t supposed to be street-smart, pretty, self-made leaders and confident without being “bitchy.”
The women on this new slate of GOP female candidates aren’t playing second fiddle, either. They are going for the gold, and those on the left and their cheerleaders in the media simply can’t get their heads around that notion. Where are the powerful husbands upon whose political career coattails women are suppose to ride? Where are the famous political family dynastic names to carry them over the finish line?
After all, isn’t that how so many female Democratic candidates scored their place at the table?
Lacking comfortable stereotypes to successfully pin on modern Republican female political leaders, the left is stymied. The Thatcher-esque self-made women in the Republican ranks in recent years present a challenge for Democrats and the media. These new leaders are mothers, grandmothers, wives, business leaders, CEOs, citizen legislators and activists taking part in public discourse, running for office and supporting conservative causes in a very natural and dynamic American tradition.
While Democrats divide, subdivide, compartmentalize and label women to the point where Democratic women are compelled — or seemingly even required — to first and foremost address so-called “women’s issues,” as if American women live in an entirely separate country from men, Republicans don’t seem shackled to such marginalizing structural limitations. Tax relief, fiscal conservatism, economic growth, job creation, terrorism and, yes, education, top the charts for GOP women as well as GOP men.
Republican women are breaking the old rules, and those on the left who wrote those rules don’t like it one bit. But whether the left likes it or not, these would-be ladies who lunch are now ladies who lead.
Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.