At least by the election of 2008, it was undisputed that women are the single largest demographic to be considered by any person aspiring to be the President of the United States. 35,900,000 women voted for Obama, while only 26,000,000 men voted for him. There are more female voters than male, and women vote at a higher percentage than men. In April of this year Obama enjoyed a 9 point lead over Romney with women.
Romney has worked hard to court the female voters, even if he has stumbled along the way. His wife, Ann, has been given an increasingly visible presence in an attempt to court women.
During the second debate, Mitt Romnay was specifically asked about the fact that women make 72% of every dollar earned by men. Obama responded by explaining that the first bill he passed was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which put into law the commonly accepted notion, among women, that women should be paid the same as men. Obama could have mentioned the Republican war on women. He could have mentioned mandatory sonograms, personhood laws, failure to fund Planned Parenthood ,or failure to cover contraceptive medication for women, but he didn’t have time. Obama could have reminded the audience about the outrageous remarks by Todd Akin,
suggesting that women who get raped don’t get pregnant, or that Akin and Paul Ryan, Romney’s choice for V.P., co-sponsored a bill presented in Congress suggesting that rape isn’t rape unless there is physical violence involved, or the support by the Republican Party of Todd Akin, even after he made such an outrageous statement.
Instead Obama allowed Romney to dig himself into a hole by speaking. First Romney missed the point of the question. The focus of the question was not the problem of employers failing to hire women. The focus of the question was a concern that women are not paid fairly as compared to a male counterpart, performing the same job, equally well. This was the very focus of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Romney was previously asked about whether he supported the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Either he didn’t even know what it was, or he didn’t know what his position was on whether women should be paid equally to men, so he said: “We’ll get back to you on that.” In another interview a Romney advisor said that had he been President he would NOT have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but now he has no current plans to repeal it.
In an attempt to demonstrate his support of women, Romney said in the second debate that when he was presented with a number of male applicants for positions in his administration, he asked his staff to make an effort to find some qualified female applicants. For most women this “story” raised a red flag as most people who view women as equal would not need to ask their staff to find female applicants, they would already have known to do that. However Romney’s “story” was more detailed, and therein lies the second problem; the lie. Romney said: “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.,”
The truth was that the “binders full of women” came not at the request of Romney, but because a coalition called Massachusetts Government Appointments Project, or MassGAP, that was formed in August 2002 to address the shortage of women in high-ranking government positions, presented the binders to Romney in an attempt to encourage his administration to consider hiring more women. They had started assembling groups of applicants, taking several months to reach out to women’s organizations around the state and preparing to present potential hires to whichever candidate won the election. Thus Romney did not seek out more women to hire, the Mass GAP approached him with binders full of women that he should consider for hire, instead of the male applicants. Romney did not seek out women to hire, but was forced by women to consider hiring more women.
To listen to Romney speak in the debate, the audience might conclude that at least half of his administration was women. The reality was quite different. Midway through his four-year term, only 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women. Over the last two years of his term, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was actually lower than it was before Romney took office.
If Mitt Romney truly lacked confidence in the competency of women in the workplace, we would expect to see that attitude reflected at Bain Capital during the time it was run by Romney. We did. In 1994 when Romney challenged Sen. Kennedy all 95 of the Vice Presidents of the firm were white, and only nine were women.
The conclusion is inevitable. Not only is the Republican Party actively engaged in a war on women, but Mitt Romney seems to be one of the generals in that War. Not only is he opposed to contraceptive rights for women, and not only did he fail as a Governor, and as CEO at Bain, to hire and promote women equally with their male counter parts, but he lied about doing so in a national debate.
Mitt Romney has a long a colorful history of saying anything he thinks will get him elected.
John Fowles said:
“There are only two races on this planet; the intelligent and the stupid.”
Mitt Romney is a member of the latter. He’s not smart enough to even flip flop on the issue of equal pay and equal opportunities for women in the workplace.
Most Republicans and Democrats identify the economy as the most important issue in the 2012 presidential race. We may disagree with the proposals of Romney with regard to his approach to fixing the economy, but Romney’s refusal to respect women as equal to men in the workplace is a game changer for the vast majority of women. Women aren’t worried about the price of gas if they can’t even get an interview to which to drive. Women aren’t worried about the unemployment numbers, if the jobs for which they will be hired are limited to house cleaning and laundry services. Women aren’t worried about the national deficit, if they have to file personal bankruptcy because they were date-raped, had to carry and give birth to the rapist’s child, and support that child as a single parent. Women who are worried about paying for a cemetery plot because they are going to die from blood clots caused by a pregnancy that they are required to carry to term, aren’t worried about the bank foreclosing on their home. The woman dying of breast cancer who couldn’t get a screening mammogram from Planned Parenthood because the Republicans cut funding, isn’t worried about the national debt their child will inherit 20 years from now. That woman is focused on who will drive their five year old to school when the only remaining parent of the child lies dying in bed, having to wear diapers because she is too weak to walk to the bathroom.
When Mitt Romney gives his concession speech on Tuesday night, November 6th, the women in the audience will know why Romney lost. Fathers, brothers, husbands, and uncles around the country will also understand. The economic battles we face can only be fought after we achieve victory, as a country, in the War on Women.