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 Trump’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 Moore 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 DeVos, 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 Obama 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.