WASHINGTON — Former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens is jumping into the race to defeat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Wednesday. Before he even reaches the starting blocks, Democrats are questioning his ability to reach women voters.
The reason? A 2009 post on his website that connects the rise of working women with what he says is a rise in mass shootings and other violence perpetrated by men.
"The collaborative, flexible, amorphously-hierarchical American economy is shutting out ordinary men who were once the nation's breadwinners in living-wage labor and manufacturing jobs," Rubens wrote. "Because status success is more vital to the male psychology, males are falling over the edge in increasing numbers."
A "collaborative" and "flexible" economy is one that has opened the door to more women working, Rubens wrote. And the nature of the changing economy has had a detrimental effect on men, including an increase in violence.
"The collapsing number of male jobs in the increasingly female-centric economy just adds to the already harsher impact of OverSuccess on males," he wrote, referring to the title of his 2008 book.
It's a view Rubens still holds today, and he seemed surprised in an interview Wednesday that anyone would care about it.
"The point of this, if you read the whole thing, is that manufacturing jobs, which have been the basis for higher-wage working men during the post-World War II era have been in decline," he said. "Men are more sensitive than women to external indicators of status, which is one of the points in my book — which you might want to read so you can understand the whole point of this — and it's very important to all people, women and men, to have jobs, functions, and roles in life that are fulfilling and productive and engaging."
The loss of manufacturing jobs that men often held in favor of "collaborative" jobs that favor women, Rubens said, "has increased stress in males."
"It's a tiny fraction of males that become stressed for whatever reason and engage in acts of extreme violence," he said. "If you look through individual psychology of mass shooters over the past 10-20 years, you can see that in the profile. Often its a person who has been subjected to extreme stress in the form of social rejection, job loss and associated mental health issues."
Tweaking the tax code to add manufacturing jobs would be one way to reduce this "stress" on men, Rubens said.
On paper, Rubens is something of a radical when it comes to Republican politics. He favors a carbon tax, is pro-choice, and supports same-sex marriage rights. But Democrats, who were pushing Rubens' website on reporters in advance of his official announcement Wednesday, think his musings on a perceived rise in violence like serial killings and mass shootings perpetrated by men will make him a tough sell to women.
"I am a moderate on social issues," he said. "I am not seeking to change the Roe v. Wade law as some Republicans have campaigned on in the past, and I am encouraging Republicans to focus on fiscal issues."
Rubens says he's a strong supporter of women going to work, and cites the fact that he has a female business partner. He said what men — and society — need are an increase in the kinds of manufacturing jobs that have gone away. Rubens says that would help decrease violence by men.
"If you read the ... posting, I don't see anything that causes anyone to conclude I'm seeking to in any way make a claim that it's not great that women have come up in the economy," he said. "My wife is my business partner so I know that it's fantastic that the economy has made a fulsome role for women as I was pointing out in the posting. We need to get manufacturing jobs back."
Adding those jobs "will help the problem identified in that posting," he said. He also called for mental health reforms, "decreasing the cost and increasing the quality" of care. Rubens said Shaheen's vote for Obamacare was a vote that added to the mental health care problem, as well as added the kind of stress to men that leads to violence.
"[Obamacare] is contributing to a conversion of full-time jobs to part-time jobs. This is causing serious threats to working families," he said. "The source of this sudden interest in a post I wrote five years ago, I know where that's coming from. It's coming from my opponent, Jeanne Shaheen, who is the cause, personally, as the 60th vote of Obamacare, of this stress on working families."