This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for some conservative feminists.
"Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican," pro-empathy President Biden said in Milwaukee last September.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for some conservative feminists.1 Liz Cheney (above), in particular, stood up against the twice impeached, insurrectionist, cop killer, former loser 45th POTUS. "Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican,"2 pro-empathy President Biden said in Milwaukee. "There's no democracy where you can be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy," he said in reference to the assault on the U.S. Capitol. I thought of Liz Cheney3 and all the unnamed conservative feminists when he said it. Thanks to those conservative feminists who voted for pro-empathy Democrats in the Mid-Terms, pro-empathy democracy has a chance of ending MAGA forced-pregnancy policies.
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This Thanksgiving, I am also fearful of some conservative feminists. For example, MAGA Republican Ohio State Representative Mean Jean4 Schmidt (above) has no problem imposing forced pregnancy and birth on teenagers.5 Mean Jean IS mean. I’m grateful for cognitive scientist George Lakoff’s clarification of the difference between liberal and conservative feminism in his book “Moral Politics.” Lakoff is adamant in his detailed explanation that “conservative feminism must be a version of Strict Father morality.” What changes are that “in the family, men and women have equal responsibility for decisions.” In addition, “conservative feminists feel comfortable about the use of power, including sexual power.”6 However, since conservative feminists can fall on both sides of the forced-pregnancy debate, pro-empathy voters cannot count on conservative feminists across the board.
Nevertheless, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for some conservative feminists. For example, this past Summer, GOP campaign activist Sam Zaleski (above) went public and described her abortion experience in a Politico opinion piece entitled “More Republican Women Than You Think Have Had Abortions.” Zaleski wrote, “I had an abortion and don’t regret the decision. It made me a firm believer in the importance of abortion rights — for economic mobility, autonomy, and mental health. I chose life when I chose to have an abortion — my own life.” Zaleski’s courage to go public with exercising pro-empathy governance, beginning with herself as a non-MAGA Republican, is gratifying. She ended her piece by saying, “Perhaps you’ll find empathy for me. I’m a married, white woman, who lives in the suburbs, has worked for many Republicans, and I believe in access to safe, legal abortion.”
Although I am grateful for conservative feminists this go-around, I know we voted for democracy and abortion rights based on different values. We have a different vision of the ideal America. Of course, pro-empathy voters can exercise empathy for conservative women who choose to save themselves first with an abortion - because governing with empathy in all things, beginning with self, is the difference between conservative and progressive feminism.
Opinions are my own and do not reflect any endorsements by the Empathy Surplus Network USA (ESNU). This substack is where ESNU’s weekly adult forum participants can post their reflections on how to incorporate the latest insights of the brain from Dr. George Lakoff into their moral and political discourse. Paid subscribers are welcome to participate in our weekly adult forums and post their testimonies here.
Lakoff, George, “Conservative Feminism,” Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, p. 289-309, The University of Chicago Press, 1999 and 2002.
Holland, Steve, “Biden assails Trump loyalists but not all Republicans after backlash,” Reuters, 09/05/2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/midterms-mind-biden-speak-labor-day-events-wisconsin-pennsylvania-2022-09-05/
Weisman, Jonathan, “Once a G.O.P. Stalwart, Liz Cheney Hits the Trail for Democrats,” New York Times, 11/01/2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/01/us/politics/cheney-kinzinger-democrats-independents.html
Deparle, Jason, 'Mean Jean' Goes to Washington, and Invites a Firestorm,’ New York Times, 11/20/2005
Balmert, Jessie, “Pregnancy after rape 'an opportunity'? Ohio GOP lawmaker sparks outrage in abortion debate,” Cincinnati Enquirer, 04/28/2022 https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2022/04/28/ohio-republican-calls-pregnancy-after-rape-opportunity/9568456002/