In the days leading up to the Republican National Convention, the only Republican making news was Todd Akin, Missouri’s now infamous member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The offhand pedalling of unsubstantiated facts on a live broadcast was as alarming to the left as it was to the right; Democrats took the chance to champion Obamacare, their support of Planned Parenthood and in all ways being pretty swell towards women (not to mention their giddy support for Akin to run in the election, no doubt ensuring a Democrat seat), while Republicans sharply distanced themselves from the campaign-killing talk that Akin was now renowned for.
Women were now on the political spectrum for both parties in the run-up to the election cycle. The selection of Paul Ryan as running mate for Mitt Romney, in wake of such extreme anti-choice sentiments being news fodder on the eve of the Republicans biggest event, again pushed the issue; just what exactly did the Republicans mean by intending to ban abortion? Did Mitt Romney the Senator agree with Mitt Romney of 1994, who said that the longevity of Roe v Wade signified that ‘we should sustain and support it?’ Or was he Mitt Romney of 2007 who said it had ‘gone too far’? The Mitt Romney of 2002 had not only pro-choice leanings, but wrote in to the National Abortion Rights Action League’s candidate survey, to the tune of “women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s.” Well damn.
Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping is nothing new, not to the news cycle and not to the Republicans themselves. What stands out in stark relief is the malleability of facts and even morality when it comes to the right’s War on Women; Romney is running as a pro-life candidate, with the even more radically aligned Paul Ryan, because that is how you get the Republican vote. Worse of all is that this is taken as fact; there is no one making the argument why exactly lovers of small business have such a need to get invested in the happenings of women’s uteruses, or how exactly a desire for less intrusive government can co-exist with an ideology that by name limits choice and necessitates the direct involvement of government in private matters.
But of course there is a reason. The same reason why Republicans would seek to repeal the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; why there were motions to defund Planned Parenthood by Republican Senator John Kyl, who in response to journalists rebuffing his claim that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services were abortions, claimed that his remarks were ‘not intended to be factual’; why Sandra Fluke, white, middle-class, engaged, Georgetown-educated-law-student Sandra Fluke, and her six minute speech at the Democratic National Convention received more right wing ire than the President’s (her platform for birth control made no mention of her sex life, yet Fluke was derided by prominent right-wing media as a ‘slut’ for her audacity); Republicans have no interest in helping women. They have no interest in helping the poor. Their interests are sequestered to the 1%, whose tax breaks can be sold under in policy under the guise of good old Reagan economics.
It’s an ignorance of facts in face of rhetoric so favoured by politicians across the spectrum that’s enabling these radical views to enter public political discourse so close to an election; from the misnomers of Paul Ryan as a fiscal conservative (false) and Mitt Romney as pro-life (if not false then certainly inconsistent), to much more grave disguising of facts under the catchphrase nature of ‘sanctity of life’ or ‘pro-life’ (which in actuality means that safe and legal access to abortions may no longer be possible in the wake of the next election, marking a dissolution of women’s liberties in one of the most economically and socially advanced nations).
The tenets of the Grand Old Party are espoused by its delegates proudly, and the patriotism is unquestionable. The well worth watching segment of The Daily Show at the Republican National Convention captures this very premise, with a flag bearing, self-proclaimed salt-of-the-earth Republican colluding with Samantha Bee that “that’s what our country is. It’s the individualism. We get to be who we are. I mean, everybody gets to choose the path they choose because that’s their choice.” There it is. The Republican ethos that has been unchanged through time. But when Samantha Bee responds with “except in the case of abortion – my rights end where my uterus begins,” you’d be a fool to think that the Republican Party gave a damn about your choice.
The empty speak is just that, rhetoric in absence of facts, greed in absence of morality. It is no surprise that Romney polls at a seemingly impossible 0% among black voters, no surprise that Obama has an easy majority on female voters. It’s no surprise when the delegate responds to Samantha Bee with a careless shrug and a laugh, like the right to a legal abortion isn’t a life and death issue for some women: “I guess I’d have to agree with you on that.”