In the 2008 women out voted men for Barack Obama by almost 10,000,000 votes. It was an especially significant statement by women, in light of the fact that Sarah Palin, a person with ovaries, was on the GOP ticket. The book Game Change revealed the extent to which the McCain campaign failed to vet Sarah Palin. The very name “Game Change” illustrated just how clueless John McCain was about women, and what motivated them to vote. McCain knew that he could not win the election without significant support of women. Mistakenly, he thought if he had a pretty wife, who wore nice clothes, and if he picked a woman for his running mate, who was a beauty pageant winner, and had a lot of kids, that he would turn around his campaign. McCain thought Sarah Palin would be a Game Changing pick. He probably would have lost the election even if he had not selected Palin, but she ensured his defeat. Sarah Palin represented all that professional women and dedicated mothers find repugnant. Even more offensive was the pick by McCain. Because McCain selected Sarah Palin who had so little education, experience, and intelligence, it was clear that McCain’s pick was based upon her appearance only. The selection of Sarah Palin not only failed to help McCain in his quest for the White House, it actually caused a decline in his popularity. Women were offended that McCain thought that women were not intelligent enough to assess a candidate’s desirability based upon competency instead of appearance. The choice of Sarah Palin by John McCain was offensive because Palin was such a poor example of a woman who would earn the respect on anyone, and because McCain thought so little of women generally that he thought we’d vote for his ticket with the “hockey mom.” His choice revealed his attitude towards women, both as politicians and as voters.
Given the disaster that Sarah Palin turned out to be, both during the campaign, and after, it should have been obvious to Mitt Romney that he should be very careful not to offend women by his selection of Vice Presidential running mates. The first rule to follow should have been to do no harm. Ann must have forgotten to tell Mitt about that rule. The pick of Paul Ryan is a vivid illustration of the incredibly poor judgment of Mitt Romney. If he had picked a more moderate politician, conservatives would still have voted for him. However by choosing Ryan, Mitt positioned himself to look as if he were more extreme in his conservative positions, and surely committed to restricting rights of women. Some moderate or undecided voters might have been scared away by the pick of Ryan. Yet the most damaging, and foolish, thing Romney could do by his choice of a running mate, would be to alienate female voters. He did. At a time when the economy was such a problem for Obama, and the economy was the most important issue for most voters, Romney was well positioned to be a viable option for change. Yet Romney showed his incredibly poor judgment in his selection of Ryan. He has changed this election from one that was his to win, to one that he lost. It isn’t that Obama has “won” as much as Romney has “lost”. If Romney had not gone to London, we wouldn’t have seen how easily he could alienate our strongest ally. If he hadn’t gone to Michigan, we would never have known that he has an opinion about the proper height of trees. If he hadn’t gone to Pennsylvania we would never have known that he was so apt to insult people, even about the cookies they were serving him. However voters, and especially women may have been willing to overlook these foolish remarks. What Obama needed was for Romney to have his “Game Changing” moment. He did.
Who in the country is unaware of the comments of Todd Akin about forcible rape, and the idea that a woman could not get pregnant as a result of forcible rape? The amazing thing is that the GOP, and Romney himself, must have known of Todd Akin’s position on abortion and rape, which was identical to that of Paul Ryan. Surely during the vetting process the first thing to be considered would be bills sponsored by Ryan. That would be a more obvious consideration than even his voting record. Thus when winning the women’s vote is critical to the election of Mitt Romney, he demonstrated his complete disdain for women, picking a running mate who feels so passionately about limiting the rights of women after rape that he sponsored a bill to empower the embryo, and to hell with the female victim. Even if Romney agrees with Ryan regarding this bill, to pick Ryan as his running mate sends a clear message to women in America.
“Mitt Romney famously says he would “get rid of” federal funding for Planned Parenthood if he had the chance. His running mate, Paul Ryan, was one of more than 200 Republican cosponsors of a piece of legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape.
Can you imagine — the same Republican House that refuses to pass a jobs bill jumped at the opportunity to make life harder for victims of rape?
And what do Romney and Ryan think of Akin’s latest statement? They’ve been trying to distance themselves from it — but Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women’s ability to make their own health care decisions.
Recent polls show Romney slipping so far that he may never recover. In fact we may soon see a shift of money spent by the GOP from Romney’s campaign to the House races. When historians write about the 2008 and the 2012 elections, it seems inevitable that they will write about the “Game Change” in both elections. Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan were the game changers in both elections. If the GOP is ever to win another election they must realize that women are diverse and the political views are as diverse as the men’s. However women in both parties demand respect. Until the GOP learns to respect women they will only view the inauguration of the president from the cheap seats. The United States is comprised of more women than men, and the women vote in higher percentages than men. Romney had to work really hard to alienate women in the election season, but he has shown that he is a remarkable candidate. In making his selection of Vice Presidential candidate he treated women like Seamus.
Women don’t have to be in the driver’s seat all the time, but we should be given a seat in the front of the car instead of the top.