Right now, the conventional wisdom is that women—especially younger women—are natural allies of left-of-center candidates.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, said Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative political activist who once starred on MTV’s “The Real World.” She’s currently national spokeswoman for The Libre Initiative, a conservative Latino group.
“We need young people like you to lead the way and show [politicians in Washington] how it’s done,” Campos-Duffy told young conservative women this month at a Conservative Women’s Network Luncheon at The Heritage Foundation. “You have the power to be an opinion maker, a trend setter, to be a leader in your school, in your campus, on the Internet, in your job and in popular culture, and you’re all already doing it.”
Campos-Duffy, mother of seven children and wife of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., said conservatives need to revamp their communications strategy, and millennial women need to be at the forefront of this because they are most in tune with social media and national trends. She used her husband’s communications director, Cassie Smedile, as an example of a risk taker. Smedile created Rep. Duffy’s selfie video that went viral.
“It got picked up by our local media, but more importantly, it got shared around by all the young people in our district,” Campos-Duffy said. “Conservative values sell, and by the way, they work.”
The movement needs revitalization, she said. It needs leaders who aren’t afraid to go into the lion’s den of media scrutiny and talk about topics other than the policies they are pushing on Capitol Hill, she said.
She pointed to the success President Obama has had with appearances on shows such as “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” and said his ability to become a popular TV personality made it popular to support him for president.
“How can we win the culture war if we are not in the room … if we’re not in between two ferns?” Campos-Duffy said.
With all the talk about the women’s vote and the alleged “war on women,” it is especially important now for conservative women to speak up for themselves, their ideology and other women, Campos-Duffy said.
“Conservative women know that life is a little messier and a lot more fun when you throw out the feminist rule book and you just do things on your own terms,” Campos-Duffy said.
The Conservative Women’s Network luncheon is a monthly event held by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, which helps to promote leading conservative women and to prepare women to become effective leaders.
It’s one of many conservative women’s organizations becoming popular among right-wing millennials. Another organization is The Network of Enlightened Women, which creates book clubs for women on college campuses so they can learn conservative values and train to become leaders.