On Wednesday, the internet exploded with news that an employee from a Republican consulting firm – that has worked with Donna Campbell, Greg Abbott, and Dan Patrick – started a PAC of his own: Boats n' Hoes PAC. The move drew criticism from Wendy Davis, the Texas Democratic Party, and news outlets across the state. Now, the Texas Tribune reports, the employee has been asked to shut down the PAC.
The closure of the offensive PAC is a small victory in the war against sexism in the Texas GOP. To look at this as a singular act of one member of the party is to miss the environment that leads an employee at a consulting firm – who is arguably more informed of his party's positions than the average voter – to create the PAC in the first place.
More on the GOP's tone-deaf approach to women below the jump.As Davis Campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña pointed out, the PAC fits the trend of statewide Republican campaigns in Texas:
Greg Abbott's consultants are clearly taking their cues from Abbott himself, who campaigns with an admitted sexual predator of underage girls, who pays women less than men for doing the same work and who forms his education plan with the ideas of a man like Charles Murray, who argues women are inferior to men.
Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Lisa Paul agreed, saying, “…actions like this reinforce a pattern of disrespect… How can women possibly take the GOP rebranding effort seriously? Their consistent contempt towards women is simply unforgivable.”
Perhaps if more women were able to rise to leadership in the Texas GOP, attitudes could change within the party. With a statewide ticket of men – whatever the end result of the upcoming runoffs – it is unlikely to happen any time soon.
Republicans at the federal level aren't doing much better. Despite claims to be interested in bringing more women and people of color into leadership, the commitment simply is not there in deed. Panel discussions on best practices for encouraging women leadership are sparsely attended, and attempts to speak to the variety of women's experiences in the party start with those most deeply invested in the Good Old Boy's club.
The Boats n' Hoes PAC is a perfect example of the Texas GOP's continuing inability to understand what being inclusive of women and their concerns truly means – in actions, not just in words. That an employee at a consulting firm created the PAC without a second thought to the sexist and degrading implications cannot be separated from a former state party chair tweeting explicitly sexual and misogynist insults about Davis and her success.
The Texas GOP – and the national Republican Party – cannot hope to change their relationship to women voters through soundbites alone. Actions such as these tell women more than shifts in messaging ever could: as far as the Texas GOP is concerned, there has been no substantive change in the underlying sexism that fuels so much of the party's platform.