Sarah Palin strikes again.
On Tuesday night, Deb Fischer, chairwoman of the Nebraska state senate, beat GOP favorite Jon Bruning to win the Nebraska Republican U.S. Senate primary. Palin endorsed Fischer while former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum supported Bruning.
Fischer, 61, will face former Democratic senator Bob Kerrey in November. Some polls already show Fischer ahead of Kerrey by 10 points.
Palin said of Fischer’s win: “As recently as a week ago, Deb Fischer was dismissed by the establishment. Why? Because she is not part of the good old boys’ permanent political class. The message from the people of Nebraska is simple and powerful: America is looking for real change in Washington, and commonsense conservatives like Deb Fischer represent that change. I applaud Moms like Deb Fischer who are bold enough to step up and run on a conservative platform to restore America and protect our children’s future.”
Another woman on the ballot is always good for women — regardless of political party. As the Center for American Women and Politics reminds us on its Web site, the United States is 71st in the world for percentage of women in office. Certainly, we have a long way to go to catch up with other countries.
The GOP is certainly garnering some points for its slate of female Senate candidates — New York’s Wendy Long, New Mexico’s Heather Wilson, Connecticut’s Linda McMahon, Hawaii’s Linda Lingle and Missouri’s Sarah Steelman.
So should Fischer’s win Tuesday night erase the discussion of the ongoing war on women? No way.
Right Turn’s Jennifer Rubin writes, “With more and more female candidates, the Democrats’ ‘war on women’ meme becomes sillier and sillier.”
Just because a female Republican wins a primary doesn’t mean the GOP agenda suddenly becomes female friendly.
Certainly, the Democrats seized women’s issues earlier this year with contraception and Sandra Fluke. But GOP supporters such as Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent do no favors to Republicans when they brutally insult women. The war on women isn’t simply about female candidates ousting their male counterparts however much the GOP wishes it was. It’s much more than that.
For instance, women are still fighting a decades-old battle for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The 1972 proposed constitutional amendment was passed but never ratified by enough state legislatures to make it a law. Currently, movements and protests are brewing in states that have yet to ratify the amendment. Fischer’s Nebraska once ratified the ERA but later rescinded.
Fischer is no friend to the pro-choice movement. On her Web site, it states that she co-sponsored a bill to provide “additional voluntary and informed consents from a woman prior to abortion.” She also co-sponsored a Nebraska law that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks in utero unless there is an extreme reason or to prevent the mother’s death.
On her Web site, Fischer doesn’t list women’s issues as one of her priorities. Any female candidate, regardless of party, should focus on at least a few of these. After all, women were women before they were Republicans or Democrats.
Women should not be afraid of these issues. It was refreshing last month to see that every Republican female Senator supported the Violence Against Women Act although many of their male counterparts did not. That fact often gets overlooked as the male-dominated parties lob attacks in the war on women.
Republican women need to do more of that. It’s only when women unite together across party lines to pass legislation that helps their gender that the war on women will be over. The war on women is not just about men in power declaring war on women. It's about Congress — men or women — doing it.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.