USA Today proclaims midterms “The Year of the Setback” for women

Perhaps a better headline would be: “Republican women run record number of races; women hardest hit.”  USA Today’s Susan Page laments that a number of women could lose their seats in Congress and the Senate in the midterm debacle for Democrats:

Blanche Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1992, a time when women gained so much ground in the House and Senate that it was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

Now, the Arkansas senator, who faces Republican John Boozman in November, is fighting for her political life in what could wind up being called the Year of the Setback.

The prospects for female congressional candidates have been hurt by a combination of a tough political landscape for Democrats — women in Congress are disproportionately Democratic— and the nation’s economic troubles. Hard times historically have made voters more risk-averse and less willing to consider voting for female candidates.

Bottom line: Independent analysts predict that the number of women in Congress — currently 56 Democrats and 17 Republicans in the House, and 13 Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate — will decline for the first time in three decades. The drop would come two years after a string of breakthroughs, when Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first woman to vie seriously for the Democratic presidential nod, Sarah Palin the first woman nominated for national office by the GOP and Democrat Nancy Pelosi the first woman elected speaker of the House.

To illustrate the danger, USA Today offers this picture of an endangered candidate:

Who’s that?  Why, it’s Barbara Boxer — whose opponent is Carly Fiorina, one of the record number of Republican women who ran for nominations in the midterms.  Not only does that tend to dispute Page’s lamentation, the caption describes perfectly why Boxer and a number of her colleagues are in trouble this year.  Boxer “has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate,” the USA Today captioner helpfully informs readers.

The point of Congress isn’t to provide women with safe jobs.  In fact, the entire problem with Congress is that too many incumbents think they have a right to keep those seats from some misguided sense of privilege.  No one owns those seats except the voters in the districts and states.  When incumbents stop listening to the voters, they should get tossed out of those seats regardless of whether their DNA contains a Y chromosome or not.

Blanche Lincoln failed to listen to her constituents, as did a number of Democrats, both men and women, who will find themselves on the unemployment line shortly after the first of the year.  That has nothing to do with their gender.  If the Republican men and women who replace them — and there are plenty of both in these elections — make the same mistake, they will suffer the same fate.  It’s about policy, not about imposed diversity, and articles like this are simply absurd.