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It’s been a rough week for conservative women. Turn on the news, and it seems like there’s another Republican woman getting screamed at by a band of unruly protesters.

What’s the catalyst? It’s outrage over President Trump and his policies.

I find it extremely disturbing to see any woman -- anyone for that matter -- getting treated like an outcast because of their political views or because (God forbid) they hold a powerful job in the Trump administration.

Here’s some of the latest examples:

  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (a Republican) was confronted and spit on while watching a documentary about Mr. Rogers.
  • White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia because of role with the president.
  • And Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was shouted at by a D.C. Democratic Socialist group when she was trying to have a quiet dinner last week.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Monday confronted protesters angry over immigration, telling them to leave her husband (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) alone.

A a weekend rally in L.A., California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, said the following: "Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd...And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Apparently that message is working.

Lena Epstein learned this first hand. While the Republican candidate for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District wasn’t shouted down, her views were still silenced. A long-planned fundraising event she’d had scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Franklin Hills Country Club was abruptly cancelled a few days prior because the board decided it didn’t like her political views.

Epstein hasn’t held office before but she was one of the Michigan co-chair’s for Trump’s campaign. And she’s maintained strong support of the president.

Things have worked out for Epstein. She was able to hold her event at another restaurant, where she says she got twice the turnout. And support has been pouring in from around the state and country.

“I will not let this deter me from my support of my president,” she says. “I want to underscore we can and must have civil discussions and be able to disagree with each other.”

Epstein was still miffed at her treatment by a club where she’s a member and her family has held a membership for generations.

And the Franklin club had no problem recently hosting a fundraiser for Democrat Suneel Gupta, who is also running for the 11th District.

Epstein says she hadn’t planned on taking the dust-up public, but another club member who disapproved of her event did, so she decided to speak out. She’s also concerned about the widespread hatred of conservatives around the country and the incivility being shown to Republican women like herself.

Patrice Onwuka, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, says it isn’t new for women to be denigrated for their credentials or their appearance.

“What is different now is how traditional feminists and the media are treating conservative women or women in the Trump administration,” Onwuka says. “The media are turning a blind eye to it. And it’s not just Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, but it’s women at the state level.”

Onwuka says that her organization wants to fight this mistreatment of conservative women and is forming a coalition called “Champion Women,” which is launching a social media campaign next month and will seek to call out negative treatment of women. 

At a time when a record number of women are running for office, most of those women are Democrats who want to fight Trump. Onwuka says when conservative women see bad treatment of their Republican peers, they may be less likely to get involved politically. And that’s a shame.

But candidates like Epstein aren’t deterred.

“The hate and vitriol that is coming from the liberal left is very disappointing, but it also indicates that perhaps there is a level of desperation,” Epstein says. “If they can’t find another message than hating Donald Trump and Trump supporters, we are going to eat their lunch in the 2018 elections.”

ijacques@detroitnews.com 

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