The punching bags are punching back.
How else to interpret exit polls showing 64 percent of white men who participated in last week’s midterm elections voted for Republicans?
That’s almost two out of three — more than enough to offset big Democratic pluralities among younger women and minorities.
So what did President Barack Obama and the Democrats do to hack off white guys so badly that we voted GOP by the widest percentage since Ronald Reagan wiped out Walter Mondale in 1984?
For one thing, there have been incessant and noisy claims by Democrat higher-ups that Republicans are waging a “war on women.”
The accusation seems overheated. Take abortion. I may favor a woman’s right to choose, but a lot of reasonable people of both sexes do not. So ever since the Supreme Court’s pro-choice Roe v. Wade ruling, pro-lifers have been chipping away at the margins, pushing legislation ranging from reasonable to ridiculous, from a ban on tax-funded abortions to a requirement that women view ultrasound images of the fetus before undergoing the procedure.
Other highly divisive fights have broken out in Congress and state capitals over requiring equal pay for women and the funding of special programs to allay violence against women.
My unscientific hunch, however, is that these legislative fights, however shrill, aren’t what has guys on the defensive. After all, opinion polls have shown that anti-abortion crusades tend to be net political losers.
No, there are other, more subtle things happening in the economy and the culture that are pushing white guys rightward on the political spectrum.
One that gets me frosted is the routine depiction of white men in commercial advertising as dumb dads and/or macho morons. The tide of political and gender correctness has been so powerful that straight white guys are now the only demographic that can be safely ridiculed.
Women are no longer shown venting frustration over waxy buildup on their kitchen floors, and that’s good. But it’s OK to depict beer-guzzling guys in sleeveless tees, sprawled on the sofa, mesmerized by TV sports even as something far more important begs their attention. It’s a staple of modern advertising.
Consider the new Cadillac commercial that shows a dapper but dweeb-ish guy walking down the street thinking women are staring at him — when actually they’re ogling Caddy’s new ATS Coupe for 2015. Reshoot that ad with a female or minority playing the fool and advocacy groups would be talking boycott.
In better times white guys let such mockery roll off their backs. But these are not better times, especially for the vast majority of guys not at the top of the economic pyramid. Sure there’s still a wage gap and a lack of women in executive suites and boardrooms. But lower down, where the middle class lives, the gender/wage gap is closing in an economy that increasingly rewards feminine tendencies toward cooperation and attention to detail over masculine brawn and impulse.
Women now predominate at degree-granting colleges and professional schools. Of 15 job categories expected to grow fastest over the next decade, ladies dominate all but two. Traditional good-paying “male” jobs, especially in manufacturing, are being off-shored or automated.
Men feel too intimated to publicly protest liberals’ and Democrats’ antimale sexism. They give the impression that all is well with them — until they protest in the voting booth. -Male Matters
So it’s an awkward time to be claiming there’s a “war on women” or, for that matter, a supposed epidemic of rape on college campuses or a sudden outbreak of unreported domestic violence. Sexual violence and domestic abuse are never to be tolerated, period. But a growing majority of us wife-and-daughter-adoring, please-and-thank-you white guys have lost patience with widespread male-bashing — and with the Democratic Party’s propensity to pile on.
So I selectively crossed over last week — and voted for some Republicans beginning with state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. If the male-bashing keeps getting worse, more of us will be crossing over in 2016.
John McCarron teaches, consults and writes on urban affairs.
See also: “Republicans don’t have near as big a woman problem as Democrats have a man problem.”