American women will decide who wins and loses in 2018 elections

American women will decide who wins and loses in 2018 elections
© Getty Images

American women, who comprised 53 percent of voters in 2016, will control the outcome of the midterm contests this November. In 1869, a women’s suffrage convention argued that if given voting rights, women, who are “the conservator of private morals,” will in public life become “the conservator of public morals.”

More than a century after securing suffrage in 1920, the midterm elections offer a historic opportunity for women to realize this promise by voting out of office Republican apologists for who is arguably the most immoral and anti-woman president in U.S. history. But Democrats cannot rely on anti-Trumpism alone to secure the votes of women. They must also advance a positive and compelling pro-woman agenda.

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE’s shameless treatment of women is well documented. More than a dozen women have accused him of the kind of sexual assault and molestation that he bragged about in the infamous Access Hollywood tape. He divorced his first wife after an excruciatingly public affair with former beauty queen Marla Maples, which the divorce court ruled was “cruel and inhuman” treatment of his spouse.

His personal lawyer arranged for a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, shortly after his wife Melania gave birth to their child. He has failed to show compassion for the victims of domestic violence and has repeatedly defended and even praised men, such as Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Shelby won't run for reelection The Seventeenth Amendment and the censure of Donald Trump MORE and Rob Porter, who were credibly accused of sexual battering and abuse.

Not just his personal conduct, but Trump’s decisions and policies have been resolutely anti-woman. He has failed to appoint a White House adviser on violence against women, the head of the Justice Department’s office of violence against women, and the State Department’s ambassador at large for women’s issues.

His Education secretary, Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosDeVos's student aid chief resigns from Education Department Cardona seeks to pivot from DeVos era at Education Senate confirms Biden's Education secretary MORE, has weakened protections for victims of campus sexual assault. Trump has rolled back efforts to close the wage gap between men and women and lagged far behind President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy is Joe Biden dodging the public and the press? Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief Pentagon issues report revealing ex-White House doctor 'belittled' subordinates, violated alcohol policies MORE in appointing women to judgeships, the White House staff, and the departments and agencies of government.

His 2019 budget includes cuts to funding for the Violence Against Women Act and the women’s bureau of the Labor Department. It slashes the food stamp, Medicaid and Social Security programs on which so many women depend. It eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides access to safe and legal abortion and vital women’s health services.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll found last month that 65 percent of women disapprove of the way that Trump is handling his job as president. However, the same poll found that only 38 percent of women believe that Democrats are mainly presenting policy alternatives rather than just criticizing Trump.

The Democratic Party needs to stand with women in the 2018 midterms by advancing a national agenda for women that addresses safety, opportunity and health. On safety, fund and staff programs to prevent violence against women. Provide federal funding assistance for domestic violence shelters. Launch a national education campaign on violence against women and establish national standards for law enforcement. Extend federal background checks to all gun purchases and ban assault weapons.

On opportunity, ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The United States is among only seven nations that have not ratified it. Restore rules to combat wage discrimination. Implement due process for women who are sexually harassed at workplaces by eliminating mandatory arbitration and providing access to federal courts. Support funding for child care and pre-kindergarten programs. Raise the minimum wage.

On health, help women avoid unwanted pregnancies and keep abortions rare by mandating contraception services as a minimum benefit of every health insurance plan. Maintain access to safe and legal abortion. Fund providers of pregnancy and maternity care. Establish a federal policy on paid parental leave.

Democrats must package and present their ideas effectively to the broad public, like Republicans did with their “Contract With America,” that preceded historic GOP gains in the midterm elections of 1994. The party needs to buy airtime for its woman’s agenda, disseminate it widely on social media and mass circulation publications, and provide training and talking points for candidates.

Today, women hold only about 20 percent of seats in Congress and 25 percent of state legislative seats. Democrats must continue to encourage and recruit women to run for public office and advance their pro-woman agenda through a new generation of women leaders, not the party’s tired old guard. Senators such as Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinJohnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' Democrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE of Wisconsin, Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package It will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it Trump sued by Democrat over mob attack on Capitol MORE of California, Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction FDA signals plan to address toxic elements in baby food Sen. Tina Smith calls for eliminating filibuster MORE of Minnesota, and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate Dems face unity test; Tanden nomination falls MORE of New York are well positioned to bring forth the policies that would make 2018 the year of the woman.

Allan J. Lichtman, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor of history at American University. He is the author of “The Case for Impeachment.”