Opinion writer

The Post reports:

Like the conservative tea party groups that rose up after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 and that helped Republicans retake the House and gain power in state legislatures in 2010, this new liberal movement has emerged largely outside the traditional party structure.

It is led by hundreds of thousands of mostly white, college-educated, middle-aged women who trace their inspiration to the inaugural women’s marches in January 2017 and whose ambitions have only grown amid a succession of disagreements with [President] Trump, including over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. … An aspiring blue wave with a decidedly pink hue, they are women defined by a desire to atone for their relative inaction in 2016.

The pink resistance is reflected in the historic number of women running for office. “More than 500 women announced runs for Congress and governorships in 2018 — a record number,” CBS News reports. And with those female candidates, we have seen an influx of female donors, a new group of political power players.


Participants march against sexual assault and harassment last year at the #MeToo March in Hollywood. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

The irony is striking: At a time that President Trump and his most devoted fans — evangelicals — have abandoned any pretense that character and public morality matter, it is progressive women who have insisted that honesty, decency, respect and kindness count most of all.

Trump argues that mocking Christine Blasey Ford was necessary to win the confirmation fight; Trump’s female critics reply that Republicans’ treatment of Ford and female assault survivors was beyond the pale, and disqualifying for those who want to hold office.

Republicans insist that Trump’s words do not matter — only tax cuts, judges and deregulation; women leading the pink resistance declare that Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty render him unfit for office and make the country weaker and meaner. Republicans have become entirely transactional; they now elevate winning at any cost. By contrast, the pink resistance is in large part about reestablishing moral and political guardrails and retaining social gains that transformed women’s lives in the late 20th century.

Aside from the #MeToo movement and Kavanaugh’s nomination, Trump’s wicked family separation policy might have been the most important driver of the anti-Trump women’s movement. In one policy action was everything these women detested about Trump — the cruelty, the dissembling, the incompetence at the expense of the most vulnerable. The mass shootings at schools, which Republicans insisted was a function of too few guns in schools, also provoked disgust and spurred more mothers, daughters, teachers and other pink protesters to take action. But more than anything, it is the daily drumbeat of insults, bullying and belittling that spurs these women on to do whatever they can to curtail and eventually end Trumpism.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has written another book — his writing production vastly exceeds his legislative output — arguing that we’re lonely, disconnected from one another and therefore eager to gain a sense of belonging in partisan tribes. He’s apparently unaware of the growing movement that is building community among anti-Trump resisters. The Post reports:

What began with meetings at diners and public libraries has matured into a sprawling array of overlapping groups, some intensely local and operating on shoestring budgets and others well-financed and professional.

National networks with names such as Indivisible, Action Together and Together We Will serve as organizing umbrellas for thousands of far-flung, self-directed activists. New national organizations including Swing Left, Sister District and Flippable have more-centralized operations targeting specific races. Still other efforts, such as Mobilize, are little more than new technology platforms that allow activists to connect to campaigns online. All told, this loosely woven framework has added up to a potentially potent force, new on the political left, with a singular goal of winning elections.

That might come as news to Sasse, but these women are creating ties that are likely to extend beyond the next election. Their shared outrage and determination to prevent the loss of decades of political and social progress for women — rather than ideological conformity — characterize their movement and provide a level of emotional intensity rarely seen in issue-based movements.

Republicans, soaked in their male grievance mentality, remain largely oblivious to the potential for a shift in politics from tribal rigidity to public morality, from one based on bluster and bullying to one that elevates public virtue, something Republicans used to believe in. (“As a movement, the Trump resistance appeared more quickly and grew larger than the tea party did after Obama took office, said Theda Skocpol, a sociologist at Harvard who has studied both. ‘They are not demanding purity,’ she said of the new uprising. ‘They are going to revitalize the roots of the Democratic Party and they are going to feminize it, but they are not going to turn into Bernie Sanders.'”)

I suspect that 2018 will be the first election, but certainly not the last, in which brigades of women, spurred by righteous anger, play a role far weightier than their numbers would suggest. With any luck, they might force a reexamination of our political culture and rhetoric. We could use, in the words of President George H.W. Bush, a kinder, gentler nation.

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