Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

BASSEY: Addressing the Great Democratic Disconnect

The dust has settled from the 2014 midterm elections. The newly elected candidates are in power, and the opposition to President Obama has made itself known, but has the message been misinterpreted? Sure, there were several instances in which Democrats lost or nearly lost (Sen. Mark Warner, Va.) because of opposition to the Affordable Car Act and low Democrat turnout, but what caused the low turnout? Was this simply because midterms are bad for Democrats?

No. Democrats only focused on mobilizing one demographic to vote. They must find a more inclusive, less alienating campaign strategy to get other groups, including women, to vote for them.

Most of us on campus know the beliefs and stances of each party without having to pay attention to ads or watch debates. We encounter people who are equally as passionate as us about every part of a party’s platform. Unfortunately, this often makes us think the rest of the country feels this way.
However, there’s a disconnect between how our student body sees the Democratic platform and how the average voter — who has substantially less information than us college students — sees the Democratic platform. Any person in the Georgetown student body who wants to be a future political leader must know how to reach voters. These students must know how to reach their potential supporters with sustainable, inclusive methods if they want people to choose them. This means appealing across demographics.

This in no way suggests the Democrats should stop campaigning on women’s issues. My parents come from West Africa, where the prevalence of STDs requires contraception access and education, and many women face not glass ceilings, but closed doors to economic advancement. The problem with campaigning only on women’s issues is that many see it as an attempt to cater to only one segment of the population. This alienates a lot of non-women, since they don’t see these issues as directly affecting them.

One cannot entirely attribute President Obama’s 2012 victory to women’s issues. Voters also saw him as more in touch with their concerns and lives than Romney. However, what may have worked in 2012 did not work in 2014 and might not work in 2016. Hillary Clinton has promised to put women’s issues at the top of her 2016 campaign. If her Republican opponent takes a moderate position on these issues and warrants her disapproval, she could lose — and lose big.

Individual Republicans are slowly but surely getting better organized in their campaigns — which means bringing their own supporters out to vote — and better at advocating for some women’s rights. In every poll leading up to Election Day, the most important issues to voters were the economy, national security and health care. Many Democrats did not heavily campaign on any of these issues.

Yes, the ACA was a carcinogen to any Democratic candidate during the 2014 cycle, but these individuals only compounded their problems by alienating moderate voters, who always decide the outcome of close elections, when they campaigned only on reproductive rights. Maligning an opponent on reproductive rights only works if he or she identifies as completely pro-life. For example, in Colorado, Sen. Mark Udall (D) attacked his opponent Cory Gardner’s (R) support for a state constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortion in cases of incest or rape. However, Gardner changed his position, saying he didn’t understand the bill’s implications at the time and that he now supported over-the-counter birth control. Udall could not prevent his subsequent loss to Gardner by a 2.5 percent margin.

Something similar happened in the Maryland governor’s race. Anthony Brown (D) attacked his opponent Larry Hogan (R) on women’s rights, even after he had said he was pro-choice and supported women’s reproductive care. In the state with the second highest percentage of Democratic voters in the country, where a Republican had only been elected one other time in 40 years, Brown (D) lost to Hogan, with even some of his base voting for the other side.

There was little emphasis on jobs, minimum wage or even economic populism. If Democrats want to regain their majorities in both the House and Senate, they cannot rely solely on targeted voting. They have to appeal during times when the electorate is more conservative as well.

If candidates are going to campaign on women’s issues, they should at least focus on economic issues tied to women, including those that affect everyone, such as paid leave for both genders, the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work.

MusaBassey_ColumnistPhotoSketchMusa Bassey is a freshman in the College. The Undergrad Almanac appears every other Tuesday.

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