Why are female Tea Party politicians so good looking?
Politics is a swell of appearances, where candidates of all walks try to literally dress up their ideological views with charming smiles of egg-white teeth, perfectly trimmed hair, and crisp suits.
But there are good looking politicians … and then there are really good-looking politicians. The kind of good-looking politicians which have their likeness used in risque male-oriented videos.
And there seems to be an interesting lean in terms of good-looking political women: towards the Republican side.
It could speak to a priority system amongst Republicans, one which is not in place within Democratic ranks. It’s not a coincidence that prominent Republican woman are attractive, it seems like almost an important prerequisite for Republican voters and politicians to have an attractive candidate (the days of Abe Lincoln are gone, replaced by Romney’s clean demeanor and Scott Brown’s chiseled abs). Michele Bachmann, for all of her deserved political criticism, is a very good looking woman.
On the flip side, many prominent female Democrats are sort of more of these grandmotherly types. These women are put together, coiffed, but older (Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton).
Think about it: Back in 2008 we all talked to someone who just absolutely knew Sarah Palin wasn’t a good Republican VP pick, based on her credentials and inept understanding of the job she was getting into. But they weren’t swayed away from voting for the McCain-Palin ticket. “I mean,” they’d say, “she’s really hot.”
It may be a broad generalization, but there are some interesting political issues that arise from good looking conservative women. In Tuesday night’s Missouri state primaries, for instance, conservative candidate Sarah Steelman, an exceptionally good-looking woman, was absolutely ripped for her beauty.
In the political blog The Greanville Post, the author referred to Steelman as “Bo Derek-beautiful on the outside; ugly as hell on the inside. A common combination in reactionary circles.”
The author extended her comments to all good-looking conservative women, categorizing them as people with “boundless ambition and a sense of entitlement, a sociopathic lack of moral principles and compassion, and a flat, self-complacent intellect characterize them.”
The rant ends: “The devil may wear Prada, sometimes, but it almost always wears a pretty face. “
Sources close to PolicyMic, though, said the demonizing Tea Party label was unfair. Steelman was labor's favorite Republican for her entire time in the state legislature. Her husband was the head of the Missouri trial lawyers. She's never been a Tea Party person. Other than Sarah Palin saying she's Tea Party, most close political analysts in the state have never heard a credible person say she was.
Steelman, 54, is a former state senator and treasurer who lost a Republican primary for governor four years ago. Her father is a former Missouri Republican Party chairman and her husband a former attorney general candidate. She's hardly a political outsider. Still, she ran her campaign on a slogan of "the status quo has got to go." She won (“won” might be the devil in disguise for Steelman) the endorsement of the Tea Party Express and aired a TV ad in which Palin describes her as an economist "who defends our tax dollars like a momma grizzly defends her cubs."
Some grassroots Tea Party activists weren't even that impressed with Steelman’s Tea Party credentials.
"She tried to attach herself to the tea party without actually getting our approval. None of us in the tea party really appreciated that," Jeannine Huskey, 56, of Eureka, told conservative blog Breitbart.com. Steelman lost to Todd Akin on Tueday. But she was a savvy politician who was trying to capitalize on a new conservative wave in the Tea Party.
Is the “Devil wears Prada” moniker appropriate for Tea Party women? One-Hundred percent hell-no; attacking a politician by linking their looks to their ideology is absurd.
Still the Tea Party does count among its ranks Palin, Bachmann and Steelman, all of who are no stranger to controversy.
So why are all of these attractive women grouped in one of the most conservative ideological corners in America, the Tea Party?
"One possible explanation is that people who are seen or consider themselves beautiful tend to be more anti-egalitarian and rightwing," Niclas Berggren, one of three co-authors of a study linking good looks to conservatives, told AFP in 2011.
"We establish two main results. First, we find that the candidates on the right look better than the candidates on the left. Second, we find a greater effect of good looks, in terms of more votes for candidates on the right," the report states.
There you have it.
To add to the debate (for the sake of science … and because liberals probably feel ugly right now), one Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that so-called “low-information voters” — those who watch a lot of TV but who aren’t up-to-date on policy issues — are most likely vote for a candidate based on looks alone.
As Politico reports, for every 10-point increase a candidate gets because of his or her appearance, about half of that increase comes from the voters with the least amount of political knowledge and the most time spent in front of the TV.
So are those who vote for Tea Party women “low-information voters?”
No. That would also be absurd. Bachmann, Palin, and Steelman are smart politicians who have, to their credit, remained loyal to their ideological views and have pushed unique platforms on the U.S. political system.
Good looking women also happen to be conservative. More power to them.
The biggest question we should ask ourselves is: are we being fair to these women? There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to criticize and mock these women not only for their political beliefs, but also for their looks. That’s not fair. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t judge a politician based on looks. But then again we don’t live in a perfect world. And life isn’t fair. So the sexist comments about good looks and “being the devil” will unfortunately continue to flow.
In the end the big take-away is that you have to give these women props: They’re firey conservatives, and they look good doing it.
The face of the Tea Party just happens to be really, really soft on the eyes.