On "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory brought up the latest Pew Research Center report, which found that women are now the sole or primary source of family income in 40% of U.S. households with children. It led to an interesting roundtable discussion about the larger social dynamic, including the difficulties the Republican Party often has reaching out to women voters.
But for those who can't watch clips online, there was an exchange between David Axelrod and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that was especially noteworthy.
BLACKBURN: I'd say we need to be the great opportunity party. That's what GOP needs.AXELROD: How about pay equity laws to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace?BLACKBURN: I think that more important than that it is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I've always said I wasn't -- I didn't want to be given a job because I was a female. I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. They don't want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions themselves.
I'm at a bit of a loss trying to make sense of this. She wants women to vote Republican, but she also wants Republicans to oppose proposals to ensure equality in the workplace for women. Why? Because as Blackburn sees it, women don't even want such protections against discrimination.
But this is absurd. Women want "the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions themselves"? Which decisions? The decision to receive equal pay for equal work? If women could simply create pay equity through sheer force of will, this wouldn't already be a national problem. But since it's employers with "the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions," it's important to have laws to prevent unfair treatment.
None of this is especially surprising given Blackburn's ideology -- she voted against Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act -- but it's still awfully difficult to take this approach seriously.
Keep in mind, the Tennessee Republican believes the system works so long as employers "recognize" women. In reality, "recognition" isn't enough. Women are "recognized" enough to get hired, but still routinely face workplace discrimination, including lesser pay for equal work.