Thursday, August 23, 2012
Why Romney Must Not Win
Under Obama's watch there has been health care reform, the end of don't ask don't tell, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, billions in funding for our veterans, the rescue of our auto industry from financial collapse, the death of Osama bin Laden and support of marriage equality for the LGBT community. There's much more, but it never gets any media time because it's not sexy enough and doesn't scare the populace.
Yes, the deficit is skyrocketing (and has been since George W. Bush took office and led us into an unnecessary war in Iraq) and there are still too many people without jobs. Most Americans, me included, are feeling the pinch of rising food and gas prices. And while Obama is partly to blame for this, the burden does not fall completely on his shoulders. Republicans would like us to conveniently forget the eight years of Bush that came before, when he nearly took America into another great depression. The GOP had no plan to get us out of financial crisis in 2008 when John McCain was their nominee and the same holds true in 2012. One look at Mitt Romney's economic plan – even for a math-challenged English major like me – shows billions more added to the deficit. It means more tax cuts for the rich, more taxation for the middle class. The GOP knows this is true, so they do what they always do when pushed into a corner when it comes to the economy: they turn to social issues.
Calling a politician a "flip-floppper" is de rigueur, but it bears repeating that Romney used to be pro-choice, pro-gay and enacted health care reform as governor of Massachusetts that was used as a model for Obamacare. Romney's central message on the campaign trail has been that he will end Obamacare on "day one" of his presidency. That's a nice soundbite, but actually impossible. It would also cost, according to various sources, more than $300 billion to repeal the affordable health care act. The Supreme Court stamp of approval on the law doesn't support Romney's promise of repeal either. The GOP knows this, too, so back to those social issues.
Over the weekend US Rep. Todd Akin from Missouri was asked during an interview whether women who have been raped should be allowed to have an abortion. His response: "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." This opened a new front on what has already been called the GOP's "war on women." Republicans distanced themselves and called for Akin to drop out of the race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. A few days later, the Republicans ratified its party platform opposing abortion in all instances – rape, incest and even if the mother's life is in danger. Romney's new vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, has called Akin a "great asset" and co-sponsored many of the same anti-abortion bills that offer no exceptions. Ryan's attempt to distance himself from Akin has been a failure because, you know, those old votes are a matter of pesky public record. But this presidential election is about more than abortion.
The GOP, once again, has given up on the idea of a "moderate" and succumbed to its extremist, religious, right wing base. There's lots of lip service about the economy, but at the end of the day, the message always returns to imposing their conservative and religious "values" on America. Those values include being anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-immigration, anti-arts, anti-science and whole host of other anti- that should make the majority of Americans quake in their boots. But what the right wing and, by extension the GOP, have perfected is the art of fearmongering.
Part of that fearmongering has been to discredit Obama, such as the "birther" movement, calling his Christianity into question (he's secretly a Muslim, you know), and labeling his policies as socialist, communist or fascist (right wingers use these terms interchangeably because most folks don't know the difference and any word with "ist" on the end is obviously evil). Then you have the Tea Party, which claims to be all about economics, but who most recently went on a hunt for spies of the Muslim Brotherhood in the highest levels of government. There have also been calls that Obama is anti-Israel, since he supports diplomacy rather than war with Iran. Even after Ehud Barak, Israel's deputy prime minister and minister of defense, said Obama's administration has done more for the country's security than any president in recent memory, the right wingers and GOP are hoping you missed those comments. It doesn't fit into the fearmongering narrative.
The recent flap over Chick-fil-a's CEO coming out against marriage equality was also neatly spun by the right as an attack on "Christian values" and "freedom of speech" while the media and many LGBT people missed the point of the outrage entirely. Whether Chick-fil-a supports gay marriage or not isn't the point; the fact that the company donates millions of customer dollars to prop up hate groups such as Exodus, who supports a "cure" of homosexuality, and Focus on the Family, which has worked tirelessly to strip LGBT of the most basic human rights, is the point. The fact that these organizations have been allowed to flourish and are supported by our politicians and religious leaders is abhorrent. The separation of church and state is perilously close to collapse, and their are many on the right working to make that boundary disappear.
What we seem to hear the most from the conservative right wing is that they want to "take back the country" from Obama and the liberals. In 2008, nearly 70 million people voted for Obama – the most votes ever received by a presidential candidate in history. In the GOP, right wing, conservative mindset, those 70 million took over America in some kind of coup, and it's now their duty to take it back for God, guns and glory. Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party and those behind it have no interest in your civil liberty, personal freedoms, getting government out of your life or making you more prosperous. They want you to shut up, (over)pay your taxes and worship their god. And that is positively un-American.