It did not generate the outrage that his offensive statements often do, probably just because it happened the day before July 4, but last Tuesday Rush Limbaugh made an inadvertently revealing statement. “When women got the right to vote is when it all went downhill because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect,” said Limbaugh.
Limbaugh was not summarizing some serious new political science research. He was merely making assertions based on his own sexist stereotypes and the fact that women vote more Democratic than men.
The notion that women are less capable of controlling their biological weaknesses for the good of their country is often heard from right-wing men. Newt Gingrich, who never served in the military, once said that women could not serve in combat because they would “get infections,” from living in ditches.
Limbaugh’s comment is also a reflection of Republican attitudes toward voting, and why they are so eager to trample voting rights. For another example, recall that Ann Coulter told the New York Observer in 2007, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine.”
Limbaugh’s defense is that he was joking. But you never hear liberals joke that the world would be better if men or white people were not allowed to vote.
Republicans like Coulter and Limbaugh believe that groups who vote Democratic shouldn’t have the right to vote. The available mechanisms they are using, such as voter ID laws, target Democratic-leaning groups such as African-Americans, young people, city dwellers and poor people. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election.” That’s 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million voters.
If there were a mechanism for disenfranchising women, the GOP would be pushing it.