Sufferin' Suffrogettes: Michigan GOPers Flee League of Women Voters Events

Years ago, a county commissioner candidate canceled an appearance held by the League of Women Voters, suddenly and inexplicably claiming the organization is a liberal front and that he'd seen mysterious black helicopters buzzing around him overhead.

That tone of distrust and paranoia may also be at the center of what can only be described as an exodus of Michigan GOP candidates away from LWV and other events. Recently, Republican congressman Fred Upton cancelled his only scheduled appearance – one hosted by the League of Women Voters – before the election without any explanation. This week, Republican state Senator Judy Emmons also cancelled a League of Women Voters forum in Michigan. Not one to be left behind, Republican state senator John Moolenaar also canceled his event ... and had a young staffer cancel for him. And this problem has been widely reported from other states, as well.

Why, then, when the GOP's national platform has struggled so mightily (well, somewhat) to find a place for women-folk at their white-male table, would they run from women voters like this? Accusations of liberal bias is nothing new to the non-partisan LWV campaign, but like #GamerGate, "The Fappening" and so many other feminist issues, things have gotten much uglier lately. Where will it stop? Below is an op-ed from one disappointed local teacher:

In teaching 17–22 year-olds, I try to balance the way things are with the way things could be.

Regarding the proposed debate between John Moolenaar and Jeff Holmes, I was impressed with the energy from the young people involved in both parties.

Over conference calls, each team got more excited about having a forum where their candidate could discuss his perspective on the issues. My students were also excited and wrote questions for moderator, David Nicholas. All seemed to point towards a smart discussion of the issues, until the last minute cancellation by John Moolenaar.

Why the cancellation? To attend a hastily organized meet-and-greet somewhere far from Alma College. Clearly, this cancellation was strategic in timing as it was one day before the college’s fall break so there are no students on campus to express their anger and frustration. John Moolenaar actually made a young staffer, the one so excited to have the debate, call my office five days before the scheduled debate to tell me that he “accepted an invitation to another event” that was more advantageous to his campaign.

It was a decision made perhaps because he was afraid his opponent might have the upper hand on the issues. Or, perhaps because he calculated the hits he would take for backing out would be offset by Republican popularity in the district.

What is disturbing is that he apparently doesn’t care about the disappointment and disillusionment of the young people, especially those working for his campaign, who were looking for something different from their candidate. What they got was reinforcement of the kind of behavior they come to expect from our leaders in Congress. And it will keep them away from the polls.

To those young people who worked so hard to make something meaningful happen in this campaign, I am sorry. This outcome proves that some candidates place political gain ahead of civic engagement and duck from responsibility when it suits them or their place in the political world. It makes one wonder if he will exercise the same disrespect and lack of response to voters if elected.

Murray C. Borrello



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