PEOPLE

Sabrina Schaeffer Hopes to Raise Voice of Conservative Women Through IWF

Sabrina Schaeffer
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Add to Briefcase
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Sept. 4, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

Wo­men’s groups are of­ten con­sidered to be as­so­ci­ated with third-wave fem­in­ism and, by ex­ten­sion, the pro­gress­ive move­ment. But the In­de­pend­ent Wo­men’s For­um of­ten de­fies that im­pres­sion by chal­len­ging the Demo­crat­ic es­tab­lish­ment.

Meet Sab­rina Schaef­fer, an emer­ging voice on wo­men’s is­sues and an avowed foe of Obama­care. The Cali­for­nia nat­ive is the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the In­de­pend­ent Wo­men’s For­um, which was foun­ded 21 years ago in the wake of the Clar­ence Thomas hear­ings, when the Su­preme Court nom­in­ee was con­fron­ted with ac­cus­a­tions of sexu­al har­ass­ment that sparked a na­tion­al con­ver­sa­tion.

“There was a sen­ti­ment among a num­ber of wo­men in town that tra­di­tion­al wo­men’s groups “¦ did not ad­equately rep­res­ent wo­men’s voices,” Schaef­fer said on the phone Monday. “There was a harsh voice as­so­ci­ated with wo­men’s-rights act­iv­ists that didn’t ne­ces­sar­ily rep­res­ent every­one.”

Today, the IWF is a voice for wo­men at­tuned to gender-spe­cif­ic is­sues but op­posed to the pro­gress­ive polit­ics es­poused by groups such as the Na­tion­al Or­gan­iz­a­tion for Wo­men and the Amer­ic­an As­so­ci­ation of Uni­versity Wo­men. One of the most con­ten­tious is­sues of the day, the Af­ford­able Care Act, il­lus­trates the schism between IWF and its bet­ter-known coun­ter­parts.

“Wo­men’s groups on the left are very con­cerned with ne­go­ti­at­ing spe­cif­ic ad­vant­ages for wo­men, like free birth con­trol, free an­nu­al ex­ams, elim­in­a­tion of gender-based pri­cing, and so forth,” Schaef­fer said. “But they’ve lost sight of the big­ger pic­ture, which is that wo­men and men both lose when we have a one-size-fits-all sys­tem. We try to high­light that there are two sides to the Obama­care equa­tion — not just the be­ne­fits, but also the costs.”

A nat­ive of Pa­los Verdes, near Los Angeles, Schaef­fer at­ten­ded Middle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont, in­tern­ing at the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee between her ju­ni­or and seni­or years. As soon as she left home, her fath­er moun­ted an un­suc­cess­ful bid for the House seat va­cated by then-Rep. Jane Har­man, D-Cal­if. “I al­ways joke that, when I went to col­lege, I was re­placed by a polit­ic­al cam­paign,” Schaef­fer said.

Her first job in Wash­ing­ton was as an as­sist­ant to former United Na­tions Am­bas­sad­or Jeane Kirk­patrick at the Amer­ic­an En­ter­prise In­sti­tute. Schaef­fer has de­scribed the im­plac­able an­ti­com­mun­ist dip­lo­mat, who re­nounced the Demo­crat­ic Party in the early 1980s, as a mod­el for con­ser­vat­ive wo­men.

After a stint at the White House Writers Group, Schaef­fer pur­sued a Ph.D. in Amer­ic­an his­tory at the Uni­versity of Vir­gin­ia but mi­grated to the polit­ic­al-sci­ence de­part­ment after two years. “I real­ized I did not want to be a his­tory pro­fess­or,” she said. “I knew that was not go­ing to get me where I wanted to be in Wash­ing­ton.”

She left the uni­versity with two mas­ter’s de­grees and re­turned to Wash­ing­ton as dir­ect­or of me­dia re­la­tions and pub­lic af­fairs at the Re­pub­lic­an Jew­ish Co­ali­tion and later as a speech­writer for then-Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio. Be­fore ar­riv­ing at IWF, Schaef­fer set up a con­ser­vat­ive polit­ic­al con­sultancy with her hus­band that em­phas­ized em­pir­ic­al re­search and con­trolled ex­per­i­ments.

When it comes to wo­men voters, Schaef­fer does not pre­tend that Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats are on equal foot­ing. In last year’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, the in­cum­bent won among wo­men by 12 per­cent­age points. (By con­trast, Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney won among men by 8 per­cent­age points.) “It’s no secret Re­pub­lic­ans have a wo­men prob­lem,” Schaef­fer con­ceded in an April op-ed for For­bes.

But, in her view, this has more to do with the clout and where­with­al of pro­gress­ive wo­men’s groups than with the philo­soph­ic­al un­der­pin­nings of the pro­gress­ive move­ment. “The real­ity is when it comes to se­cur­ing wo­men voters, con­ser­vat­ives are out­numbered, out­re­searched, and out­spent,” she wrote.

What We're Following See More »
PLENTY OF MISTAKES IN COVERT TESTS
Report: U.S. Ill-Equipped to Detect Dirty Bomb
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

A DHS report "found gaping holes in domestic nuclear detection and defense capabilities and massive failures during covert testing." A team put in place to assess our readiness capabilities found significant issues in detecting dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials, failing to do so in 30 percent of covert tests conducted over the course of the year. In far too many cases, the person operating the detection device had no idea how to use it. And when the operator did get a hit, he or she relayed sensitive information over unsecured open radio channels."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
RESTROOM ISSUES RETURN
Trump To Rescind Trans Protections
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.

Source:
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
“HORRIBLE” AND “PAINFUL”
Trump Addresses Threats On Jewish Community Centers
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login