A few weeks ago, a damning report detailed abuse endured by two former wives of Rob Porter, White House staff secretary. Many questions are still unanswered. I am a Republican, but I have no problem holding my party accountable when I see elected officials, or an administration, fall short of the expected integrity that comes with the position they are occupying.
As a young woman and a victim of sexual assault, I look at the Rob Porter situation as a much bigger issue than lack of transparency.
Considering Porter’s ex-wives were interviewed by the FBI months ago, someone in the White House had to have known about Porter’s history, and a man who will abuse his wife deserves no place in any administration. Shame on him and shame on those who knew. Abuse at that level is not something that should be rewarded, normalized, overlooked, or accepted. There is no room for it in the White House and there is no room for it in the Republican Party.
The Republican Party takes many hits, being stereotyped as the party of “rich, old, white men,” but this could never be more wrong. In 2018, the Republican Party I know is full of millennials, minorities, those of many socioeconomic backgrounds, but most importantly, women are the rising, driving force. Since before some women could vote, they were behind the scenes, planning events, folding pamphlets, and knocking on doors, and women’s involvement has only increased.
GOP female friendly
As a young, female conservative, I have felt nothing but support and encouragement at the highest forms from my party. It’s now helpful to a political office or organization to demonstrate that it is “female friendly,” which is where the Rob Porter situation is damaging. It feeds the false narrative that the Republican Party disrespects women. Porter does not represent the Republican Party on any front.
The Conservative Political Action Conference, a yearly event put on by the American Conservative Union, occurred last week. The event attracts thousands of young conservatives from all over the country, in hopes of hearing from some of the top name in conservative politics. This is my sixth year attending. Many other young, Republican women share my thoughts about Porter and the party as a whole.
“As soon as they knew, they should’ve taken the proper measures to have [Porter] removed,” said Grace Morgan, 21, a Clayton native. Morgan, a former American Conservative Union employee, now works for a tax reform organization in Washington.
“I feel like the [conservative] movement is very inclusive,” Morgan said. “I am never shunned or looked down upon because I am a woman. In fact, I feel like I have more opportunities in this movement because I can break into certain spaces where women haven’t been before.”
Another conference attendee, Elise Yost, 21, a UNC-Wilmington senior from Wisconsin, serves as the chairwoman of the College Republicans at her campus. The self-labeled “conservative feminist” stated that abuse, in any form, is not a partisan issue.
“The way I see it, as soon as the White House knew about Rob Porter’s history of abusing women, they should’ve taken action right away,” Yost said. “We should always call out sexual assault or domestic abuse, regardless of who does it, whether it’s on the right or the left.”
Yost believes she has a platform at UNCW to advocate for right-wing issues, like pro-life policies, gun rights, and free market capitalism, but also domestic violence and sexual assault, neither of those last two issues belonging to one party alone.
The Republican Party is transforming, welcoming various kinds of people and ideas, and last week’s conference is an example of this. When nearly 40 percent of attendees fall into the age category of ages 18-24 and most were women, it’s apparent the future of the party is female — and the future of the party has no room for any more Rob Porters.
Anna Scott Marsh of Smithfield, 20, is a member of the College Republicans at East Carolina University and will graduate in December.