Even though she won the NCAA Championships last week, the GOP is still using Lia Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania swimmer, as a stick to beat its political opponents. For the first time in Division I history, Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle for women. Parents, other athletes, and conservative people were angry when she showed up at the event. On the list of hot-button issues for parents that could hurt Democrats in the midterms, Republicans have added debates about transgender sportswomen and critical race theory, and they’re now going after Thomas.
GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn used Thomas in her criticism of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is being nominated to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Then, after asking Joe Biden’s pick if she can define what “a woman” is, Blackburn asked Jackson, “What message do you think this sends to girls?” He asked if she wanted an answer to a question about possible legal issues that a court might have to decide on. Jackson said she wasn’t sure what the answer meant. During Jackson’s speech, Blackburn asked why she talked about a swimming competition in a hearing about a Supreme Court nominee.
“I think it tells our girls that they don’t have a voice. I think it tells them that they’re not important people “It was Blackburn who said that It’s also important for parents to have a Supreme Court justice who is willing to protect the rights of parents and keep our country’s children safe. It was the same day that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation that said that Emma Weyant, who came in second place behind Thomas in the 500-yard freestyle on March 17, was the true winner of the race.
“By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud,” DeSantis tweeted. “In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.” Culture wars have been going on for a long time now, and the GOP thinks it has a better chance of winning than the Democrats do. During last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election, for example, the winner, Glenn Youngkin, made critical race theory in K-12 schools a big issue. This made it his main campaign issue. When Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, talked about the debate, McAuliffe said it was a “racist dog whistle.”
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Seeing the United States as Weak
Just a few weeks ago, some people on the hard right of the Republican Party said that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine because the U.S. was too focused on issues like gender-neutral toilets. Thomas Gift, the founding director of University College London’s Center on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek that there is “little doubt” that Republicans will keep up the “culture wars” in the run-up to the midterm elections. Gift: “The agenda not only fires up the base in a way that other policy areas can’t, but it also has a lot of support from swing voters.” He said that Youngkin’s victory showed that “the most extreme manifestations of ‘woke’ politics” don’t work well with moderates in the suburbs.
“No matter how you feel about these views, the fact is that the United States is still a middle-right country when it comes to cultural issues, and Republicans have more to gain from keeping them in the news,” Gift said. That’s what Catherine Wineinger, an assistant professor of political science at Western Washington University, said. She said that Republicans will keep using “anti-trans rhetoric and policies” because it helps them get support from one of their main groups. “The attempt to exclude trans women from women’s sports is being framed as ‘pro-woman.’ We keep seeing rhetoric that paints anti-trans initiatives as ‘protecting’ women’s sports, and Republican women are often the ones delivering that message,” Wineinger told Newsweek.
“This, along with anti-CRT rhetoric, is a strategic messaging decision intended to target and mobilize white women voters.”