The GOP Lost the Women’s Vote a Long Time Ago

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Official portrait of US President Ronald Reagan, on March 01, 1981.
Official portrait of US President Ronald Reagan, on March 01, 1981. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Salon’s Steve Kornacki dates the current, fraught gender politics of the GOP all the way back to Ronald Reagan, whose 1980 Republican party platform failed to voice support for the Equal Rights Amendment and included an anti-abortion human life amendment, prompting 3,000 women — including Republican delegates and elected officials — to stage a rally before the convention in Detroit.

In the middle of the convention, Reagan convened a meeting with female delegates, at which he promised not to make ERA opposition a litmus test for his running-mate pick and vowed to consider a woman for the Supreme Court. [...] Even Reagan’s daughter Maureen expressed irritation with the platform, saying that “I don’t think equality is a debatable issue.”

Eight elections and one ill-spoken Missouri congressman later, the GOP platform has hardly budged, but the abortion discussion is off the table.