“Abortion Barbie,” the jab directed at state Sen. Wendy Davis, made it to California recently when a passionately pro-life Texas woman paid for posters depicting Davis as a Barbie doll with a baby in utero to be posted around the Los Angeles neighborhood where Davis was holding yet another out-of-state fundraiser.
The term “Abortion Barbie” was coined by RedState editor Erick Erickson to describe Davis’ over-the-top pro-abortion positions. Democrats wailed in outrage, saying the attack reeked of sexism and would hurt Republicans among female voters.
They’re right that it’s sexist — the equivalent of a “dumb blonde” joke. But they’re wrong that it will do much damage among women who vote Republican.
But the smashmouth conservatives who are recycling the term should stop. It undercuts our message and credibility.
We Texas conservatives proclaim to be people whose principles are rooted in faith. If that’s true — and I believe it is — then we must demonstrate both the principles and the faith.
There is no way for us to hold the moral high ground if our tactics include name-calling and sexist attacks, even though those tactics are often used against us. Instead, we have to be who we say we are.
Democrats may be as committed to their own faith as we are, but they have consciously decided not to include faith in their political story.
By contrast, we conservative — most of us Christian — Republicans make a point of bringing our faith with us when we enter the public square. We think it’s a good thing.
When we do that, we must hold ourselves to the standard of behavior that is required of Christians — to love our enemies and do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
I’m not a biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure there’s no loophole in the Golden Rule for politics.
This does not mean that in the seemingly endless battle for the hearts and minds of Texans that we do not hit back or give as good as we get, and then some. We cannot abandon the basic tenet of political war — that no shot go unanswered. But we do not have to answer tit for tat. We have to be better.
Granted, it’s not easy. Our liberal opponents frequently litter their arguments with name-calling and condescension, for which they often get a pass.
Last session, I stood outside a particularly maddening committee hearing in which outnumbered Democrats rambled on for hours, alternating between falsehoods, hyperbole and cheap shots.
I asked the conservative Republican committee chairman afterward how he managed to remain gracious in the face of the Democrats’ deliberately obstructive behavior.
“Just keep loving on ’em,” he said, smiling. “It confuses them.”
Follow the Golden Rule. It’s not only a top commandment, but it can be a good political strategy, too.
Sherry Sylvester is a political consultant based in San Antonio. sherrysylvester.com/