Many of the statements that have filtered to the electorate from Republican candidates are astonishing in their brazen attempt to take us back to another era, another time, not just thirty years, but sixty, or perhaps even a century or more. An ideology that even a decade ago was considered not just scandalous or shameful, but abominable, and at times, malevolent has surged once more into the forefront of society.
Generally accepted norms for society in this second decade of the third millennium placed a woman’s health and bodily rights above those of anachronistic religious canons. Society operates well in which a woman can choose when and whether to bear children. It gives women freedom over her body unknown before in history. It allows her to plan her own life and not be burdened with unwanted children at too young an age. It takes away the power of a rapist, or of any man to impose his genes on a woman against her will.
The ability to abort an unwanted fetus, to use contraception to help plan her future, or to prevent fatal diseases from being passed on to her by her sexual partners liberated the woman from millennia under the male yoke.
If women think that they are living in a golden age of women’s rights, they are mistaken. The parochial misogynism of organized religion is once more gaining favor in our culture. Candidates for Senate are claiming that rape-induced pregnancy is part of God’s plan. Pope Benedict himself claims that contraception defies God’s will. All of these claimants are male, none of whom have or will ever bear children, or be forced to do so, yet they claim that they speak with God’s voice, as though they were privy to the deities private thoughts, a spectator at the divine table of truth.
They do not just want to cut a woman’s right to abortion, but under all circumstances, rape, incest, or the mother’s life. The do not just want to eliminate access to contraception, but all contraception, under all circumstances, used for what ever purpose. This is not enough for them; they would deny a woman the ability to get mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, and general health exams.
Their religious fervor, their greed for power over women has overtaken any semblance of decency, or of rational thought. One fine, upstanding individual even suggested that it a woman died of complications during pregnancy, she was a martyr in the eyes of God. It is at this point that I wondered whether we had been overrun by extreme mullahs from Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. These conservatives would take us back not thirty years, but hundreds, to a patriarchal society where men ruled and women were slaves and servants, bent to their lord and masters will.
The extreme fervor of these conservatives certainly does not stop there. They have work to do, and the sexual and social revolutions of the 1960’s are coming under consistent attack.
The sexual revolution of the 1960’s allowed women to experience sex without fear of unwanted pregnancy. Abortion allowed women to take control of the process of birth, to plan their lives around childbirth, rather than child-birth defining their lives.
This kind of control also allowed women to more fully participate in the work place without being burdened with children at the wrong time in their lives. Conservatives want to roll that back, to put women in their place, to expropriate their hard-won liberties and throw them back where conservatives believe they belong, under the grinding heel of men.
As the sexual revolution wore on, gay men and women were able to step out of the closet, to more fully participate in society without the former fear of ostracism, and even death. More and more states are allowing gay people to marry, or if not marry, to form civil unions. The conservatives oppose this with a venom that conceals the hatred they feel towards people who want only equal treatment. The conservative boot would crush the gains made by gay people.
In keeping with conservative exceptionalism, voters rights are being challenged across the country, mainly in the Southern states. Conservatives are trying to find ana way they can to prevent undesirables from voting. Undesirables are always those that vote against conservatives, regardless of their affiliation. To this end, conservatives have taken to gerrymandering, producing pretzel shaped districts that bear no resemblance to the constituency they should represent. They used sophisticated census data to identify those areas that are reliably conservative and shoe-horn their districts to meet this pattern.
In county after county, state after state, fabricated voter fraud allows District Attorneys to throw people off the voters rolls, something many only discover on election day. They use the omnipresent fear of voter fraud to scare voters into believing that fraud is an everyday occurrence. In the entire country, perhaps, at most, a few cases have been found, but millions have discovered their votes are cast aside.
Other strategies are also used. Early voting, a favorite of poorer voters and those that are unable to get time off work to vote, has been slashed. In Florida, twelve days were cut to eight, making it more difficult for Democratic voters to cast their ballots. In certain parts of Ohio, despite the court ruling against cutting early voting days, the DA cut the hours instead, so voters have four or five hours to vote.
Voter ID laws are being enforced, leading those without identification without a franchise. The elderly, the poor, the homeless, are left without a voice, favorite targets of the conservative right. In some districts the equipment fails, printers wont print, scanners don’t scan, networks wont connect and what should be a ten minute exercise becomes an hour-long exercise. In Florida, ex-felons are no longer allowed to vote, left without representation to add to their already difficult lives.
The wonderful protections afforded workers by the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare will be tossed on the conservative social bonfire, and along with it coverage of preëxisting conditions, the ability of children to remain on parents healthcare until age 26, enormous savings to Medicare, a ban on lifetime limits, and lower cost prescription drugs. Without the act, costs will continue their skyward trajectory, putting healthcare beyond the reach of most workers, endangering the health of the nation.
How many millions of jobs were protected by the stimulus bill, that prevented this nation from tumbling into yet another Great Depression. When Romney assumes power, all the regulations enacted to prevent financial firms from bringing this nation to the edge of the abyss will evaporate.
Our nations roads, bridges, ports, airports, power grid will disintegrate. Power outages will continue, rolling blackouts will manifest themselves, bridges collapse because the funds required to maintain those things will go to a bloated military machine. The military will become even more of a threat to the state it is supposed to protect.
Romney is likely to continue support for despotic regimes like that in Egypt under Mubarak. They poured scorn on Obama for allowing the Arab Spring to throw the dictator from power, as they did in Tunisia, and are starting to do in Syria. Obama supports the voices of moderation in those areas against they tyranny imposed by despots and autocrats.
Romney will return to American unilateralism and isolationist intransigence, refusing to work with multilateral organizations like the United Nations. He will return to the Bush Doctrine of ignoring allies and friends and dictating to other nations rather than working with them to forge alliances, compromises and agreements.
The Romney campaign promises a nation in which the vulnerable are thrown to the wolves, left to fend for themselves, without the protection that a state should extend to them. Protection not necessarily in the form of financial assistance, although there is often a case to be made for that type of assistance, but protection from the predatory acts of corporations, landlords, employers, protection from noxious chemicals, tainted food and a clean environment. Left to the predation of Romney’s world, life would not be pleasant.
Romney promises a nation stripped of protection for the working classes, where corporations can grab an ever larger share of the national pie for themselves, outsource even more jobs to underdeveloped nations, sacrificing the workers on the altar of expediency. Services under Romney are likely to vanish as workers are expected to cater for themselves rather than work together to create a society in which each give s something and receives at some later time.
This is a nation, as Jack London put it, red in tooth and claw, a merciless unbending conservatism with little empathy for the plight of the lower classes, in which bloated fat cats are fed more than they need and the poor are squeezed for funds they do not have.
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