March is Women’s History Month and while the mainstream media tends to ignore the contributions that conservative women make to society, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, spoke to The Daily Signal on camera about the legacies of female conservative leaders and how conservative policies can empower women across the country. An edited transcript of the video is below.
Rachel del Guidice: So, March is Women’s History Month and what are some ways that you see, you’re working in Congress all the time on various issues, that women are empowered through conservative policy?
McMorris Rodgers: Right. Every day we are working on policies that are empowering women and during Women’s History Month I think it’s fun to reflect on some of the trailblazers that have gone before us. Celebrate Susan B. Anthony, who was a pro-life Republican who was really the one that helped bring the women’s right to vote, celebrating the first woman who ever served in Congress, Jeannette Rankin, who was also a Republican. So there’s a great history there and it’s fun to celebrate the trailblazers, but also look at some of the policies that we are promoting right now.
First, I would go directly to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and what it means to everyone, including women. I just recently visited a women’s shelter in Spokane. It’s called Hope House. It was heartbreaking to talk to these women. Now, they’re just so grateful to have that roof over their head and an opportunity for a second chance, but they’re turning people away every day.
And because of tax reform, Premera Blue Cross just announced they’re investing $40 million into the community and the Hope House is going to get a million dollars. I believe that $40 million is going to go a lot farther in the community than if it had been kept here in D.C.
Del Guidice: Congresswoman Love, we’ve seen media bias with conservative women. A perfect example, Huffington Post. They released a piece, I think it was March 1, where they highlighted 15 influential women leaders but conservative women were conspicuously left out. So what would you say? Is there a media bias? Do you see it? Why do you think that is?
Love: Well, absolutely. I think that I’m a prime example of “We want diversity, we want women. But if you don’t think like we do, we don’t want, that’s not the type of diversity we want.” I see it all the time.
You know, it’s really interesting because my parents came from Haiti and history didn’t tell them, hey, if I care about this and care about this or if I’m black, I’m a Democrat or I’m liberal. They actually came from a dictator where people had very little voice and the bureaucrats had all of the power. They could actually go in and take whatever they wanted to. Here, we’ve just kind of made it illegal to do that, for government to do that, but there you could do whatever you wanted to.
So when my parents immigrated from Haiti to the United States, they already knew that they were conservative. They knew that they wanted less government in their lives and they just wanted a chance and an opportunity to raise their kids and make sure that they had a life that was better for their children than they had.
I’m a prime example of that. And when I’m a living example and I talk about the history … I’m not saying take my word for it. I’m saying, “Hey, this is why I’m here.” It’s because of those conservative policies. It makes up my foundation.
It’s incredibly threatening. I remember another experience where the previous first lady said, “You don’t trust politics because you look at one side and they’re all middle-aged white men, and you look at the other side you see some diversity, you see some women there, people of color.” I was just like, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed.” And it’s divisive politics because they’re not the ones that are helping us recruit more women.
I mean, I think it’s important for us to make sure that women are represented everywhere. I can tell you right now that my perspectives come from being a mom. My perspectives come from the things that have worked, the things that I’ve been taught, and also from conservative policies that have made this country great. It’s the aspect of freedom. It’s the aspect of bringing people from the lowest common denominator up and beyond. It’s about making sure that we are treating people like assets that can be developed instead of liabilities that need to be managed.
I’ll continue to be who I am and hopefully we can gather more people and get more people to realize that these are the policies that they actually do believe in.
Del Guidice: Gallup released a poll Monday saying that 61 percent of college students feel like they can’t speak out their views on college campuses because they’re afraid they’re going to be censored or shut down. What would you say to these young women who want to speak out, [but] they’re afraid to?
Love: Well, I can tell you one of the things, as a parent, I think it’s important to be really involved and make sure that your children are being educated by you. I used to try and take my kids out of classes where I thought teachers were kind of putting thoughts in their heads, but now I’ve sat there and I said, “Ask questions.” I give them, I arm them with information.
I think the other thing I would say, too, is that I’m not asking you to believe in my policies. … I’m asking you to preserve the right to believe in what you believe in, to not let government tell you that this is what you should be, this is how you should behave. Do not allow government to tell you what box you should be in because there was a time when that happened and black women and black men were second-class citizens.
This is why the idea of freedom and the idea of being who you are and being able to think and be able to be the master of your own life is so incredibly important. Preserving that right is what I’m for. I’m not telling you how to think. I want you to preserve the right to think for yourself and to make choices and suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of them.
McMorris Rodgers: Mia’s daughter [Alessa], I think, is a shining example of this. On the very day when many schools were promoting and encouraging the kids to walk out, her daughter was one who was speaking out and saying, “This is a time to speak up, to be a friend, to reach out to those at your school that you think need someone to come alongside them.” And at a time when … we’re more connected than ever because of social media.
McMorris Rodgers: We’re also more isolated, and I think especially for young people and in our high schools that young people feel like they’re isolated quite often. Her daughter’s movement to say, “Speak out, reach out,” I was so proud of her for coming forward with that. I think we need to take that on a national campaign.
DelGuidice: You both mentioned being mothers and you just recently had a tweet storm about … this woman [who] wrote a piece in The Washington Post saying that … if she was pregnant with a child that had Down syndrome, she would have aborted. How is this offensive, would you say, to women and to moms everywhere?
McMorris Rodgers: Oh, my. Well, it was just so wrong. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. What I wanted to say to her in response is that just because something is hard doesn’t mean that it’s not positive.
And I think we all know that in our lives. And getting the news that your baby is, in our case, born with that extra 21st chromosome, most people know it as Down syndrome, that is tough news to receive. [In] Down syndrome, that extra 21st chromosome is the most common chromosome abnormality.
But for her to say, “Oh, I would just have an abortion, mourn for a few days and move on,” I found very offensive. It’s not focusing on what every person has to offer. Every person has value and a purpose and that is what America is all about.
I just want more people to have an opportunity to meet my son Cole. He’s 10 years old and he—
Love: Friend of [my son] Peyton’s.
McMorris Rodgers: He’s a friend of Peyton’s, yes, and people love him. They are drawn to him. He’s so positive and enthusiastic. There’s so much that I … He makes me a better person, a better legislator, and that’s how we need to see the best in each other and the ability that everyone has and make sure that we are maximizing each person’s potential.