The University of Michigan chapter of College Republicans hosted a panel titled “Women in Politics” Wednesday evening in the Michigan League to showcase strong conservative female leaders in the Republican Party. 

Four panelists spoke at the event: Linda Lee Tarver, president of the Republican Women Federation of Michigan; Andrea Fischer Newman, a University regent and former Delta Airlines lobbyist; Congressional candidate Lena Epstein; and campaign strategy consultant Dawn Dodge. 

Tarver monitored the event and began by stating only 1 percent of Americans fully participate in politics, which she attributes to the respectable level of the self-confidence needed.

“While we have a lot of political activists in this room, only 1 percent participate in politics,” Tarver said. “It takes quite a bit of (intestinal feeling) and girth in order to get out and put your name out there and your face out there and voice what you truly believe in. It is not to be disrespected. It is not to be put down.”

She also detailed how the GOP gave her family a chance at a different life. Tarver spoke about her family’s move to Michigan after a relative was lynched in Alabama. She said she believes this move helped her mother get an opportunity to become involved in politics.

“When my mother came to Michigan, she could vote in 1918. She could vote here since 1918. She could vote in Michigan since 1918 thanks to Republican women,” Tarver said. 

Newman addressed sexual assault in the United States, specifically the #MeToo movement. Newman called for stronger adherence to misconduct policies

“I for one, am happy about the #MeToo movement,” Newman said. “I think it is about time and was glad to see it happen … We have policies and I think they need to be implemented.”

Epstein addressed her desire to become involved in politics when she began noticing legislators voting for issues of which they weren’t fully knowledgeable.

“I am ready to serve Michigan’s 11th district at a time where conservative values are needed more than ever,” Epstein. “When we talk about the swamp in Washington, D.C. – that swamp is real. We have legislators who are voting on things in which they know nothing. We have legislators introducing legislation and voting on legislation they have never read.”

Berden addressed what she sees as a societal issue regarding child development and responsibility.

“It concerns me to see someone of a younger generation not knowing how to dust furniture or do anything (on their own),” Berden said. “It seems to be a laxer in the way we are raising children today. The early years formation are so important.”

Tarver made an analogy comparing how Republicans identify with their platform and how religious groups identify with religious texts.

“If you are a subscriber to the Bible, you identify as a Christian,” Tarver said. “If you are a believer in the Quran, you are considered a Muslim. If you are a believer in the Torah, you are Jewish. These writings are sacred for (people that adopt them), believe in and hold dear are how we identify ourselves…what joins us all in identifying who we are is written in our Republican platform.”

Epstein reflected on the Republican platform and its relation to the U.S. Constitution.

“The Republican platform brings us back to the ideals of our founding fathers and what the Constitution was intended to achieve in this country,” Epstein said.

College Republicans Vice President Amanda Delekta, an LSA junior, felt the event was important in displaying how the party regards female representation in politics. 

“In the current political moment, we’ve seen how women have had a lot of hardships in gaining full inclusion in the American political sphere,” Delekta said. “We wanted to explore how those issues are being explored in the Republican Party and I think often times it’s explored through the Democratic Party.”

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