It’s the day of the election. You’re probably tired of reading yet another post about why it’s so important that every one of us eligible voters vote in this election. Several excellent bloggers have already told you why on this site, and I risk repeating some of their points.
But on the off chance that you think it doesn’t matter, or that it’s in the bag (don’t you dare!), or that one more vote will never make a difference, or whatever reason you’ve come up with to write it off, please take one more minute to reflect, and rethink.
If you care about women, either because you are one, came out of one, or love one, consider the loss of autonomy—literally, the loss of rights. Because reproductive rights are fundamental rights. Maybe you’re not in the childbearing demographic, maybe you’re queer and rarely or never need birth control, maybe you’re set for life and feel it doesn’t concern you. Think about other people, and stick up for them. Especially if you’re queer because damn it, other people have stuck up for you, including a helluva lot of women. It’s time to pay up. Some of us know well the term “fragile and reversible”. That’s what hard-fought rights are, and that is what’s on the line today.
If you still don’t get just how badly reproductive rights have been under attack, just look at one basic statistic, the image above.
Election after election, we wonder how it can get any worse, and then it does. No matter what you thought of 2000 or 2004 or 2008, this is not politics as usual. You’ve seen the gif going around about remembering to set your clocks back Sunday, but on Tuesday “be careful that you don’t set the country back 50 years”? Don’t laugh. The movement in the Republican Party that believes people have their places is strong; and for women, that place is to serve the natural superiority of men. We like to think we’re way past that. We’re not. There is no other reason for so many GOP politicians to claim so earnestly that they they’ve struggled with it, but when the sperm meets the egg, the resulting multiplications immediately take precedence over the body housing that communion. Regardless of how they got there. Bodily autonomy simply doesn’t matter, no matter what those politicians say.
Don’t look for lies, because these people believe what they’re saying. For the most part, they do not believe they’re disrespecting women’s autonomy. They believe they’re respecting women’s dependence. The double standard (“but what if it was you?”) is unfathomable, and therefore inconsequential. It’s un-American to deprive citizens of their individual autonomy, but they don’t see it that way because, well, liberalism offers them that pesky public/private sphere loophole. We have yet to accept fully that what happens in the home is political, too. So we keep fighting these battles that waste our energy and resources, but to give up is to lose basic rights, or to lose the ground we’ve fought so hard to gain. I imagine this is an unthinkable prospect to anyone who cares about women’s rights and LGBT rights.
The autonomy they want to deprive women of bleeds through to gay rights, make no mistake. The conservatives gunning for power want to be able to tell people how to live their lives, including what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Trying to deprive women of the right to abort, or of the right to the contraception of her choice is directly related to queer rights that allow sexually similar bodies to commingle. They’re the same people who want to repeal gay rights, bring back Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, and cut funding for HIV programs. Justice Scalia doesn’t believe the Constitution covers abortion or private sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex (to be clear, that liberalism loophole is all about heteronormativity). They’re not too crazy about the Civil Rights Act, either. Want to deprive African Americans of the right to sit at the counter of your diner? Rand Paul thinks maybe, yeah, since you know, it’s your diner. They want to legislate morality, and the morality they want to legislate just so happens to be theirs. Yes, laws are linked to morality, but they are not one and the same. And laws are supposed to protect those who are not like the majority.
So who needs protecting: the business owner, or the African American coming for a cup of coffee? Maybe we’re not in immediate danger of the Rand Pauls rolling back civil rights to that degree, though I sure don’t want to find out. But the woman who absolutely will not, no matter the obstacles and risks, carry to term the fetus that she never intended on having? The man whose partner died and whose family is challenging the custody of his children? The woman who cannot be at the hospital bedside of her partner because she’s not “family”? These events continue to happen today, and if the GOP gets in the White House, you can look forward to more of it. SCOTUS is on the table. Romney has made it clear, in words and actions, how he feels about gay parents. They’re not legit. And he’s made it clear that despite his own wife’s illnesses, he doesn’t think gay people should have the same rights his marriage afforded him. The man has no empathy because he doesn’t think gay people are covered under the “all men are created equal” concept the country was founded on. I don’t care what he has said in the past. He’s made his position on these particular subjects clear enough in this campaign.
This is where, though I’m not normally into shaming, I have to say that both Log Cabin Republicans and GOPRoud need therapy for the degree of self-loathing they’re exhibiting. If they’re so into protecting their pocketbooks, they’d be smarter about which candidate provides the best chance for a recovering economy. But even if they honestly believe the Romney/Ryan economic plan, such as it is, would benefit everyone, it doesn’t matter when you’re rights are taken away from you or your loved ones. We’ve been aware of this at least since Vito Russo chastised gay Republicans decades ago. If you’re still in doubt, read this excellent post by Kergan Edwards-Stout on why he got to the point of defriending those voting against his rights.
You want the truth? Don’t look to Romney, because his track record of lies is never-ending. Don’t look to the GOP, because they can’t handle the truth. They are still pushing the tired, debunked trickle-down theory that Reaganites used to justify tax breaks, and when non-partisan research comes out proving that they only help line the pockets of the already-rich, they suppress it. It’s a travesty and we should be outraged. But then again, so is their flouting of conflicts of interest when it comes to who owns voting machines in swing states. It won’t be the first time they’ve boasted that they will “deliver” the state to their candidate through such means. Why are we standing for this? Why are we standing for a candidate who lies about sending jobs overseas and who, in the midst of those lies, benefits so hugely from corporate welfare and from the same bailout he criticizes? If you’re still unconvinced, perhaps Reagan budget director David Stockman’s assessment of Romney’s job eliminations will help.
Let’s face it, both parties can play dirty. It’s politics, after all. Best not to ask how laws and sausages are made. I lived in Chicago for several years, and I’ve seen polling locations switched on Election Day when the incumbent suspected he’d lose, among other voter suppression maneuvers. It’s not a myth that when a ward didn’t deliver an election, some streets didn’t get potholes fixed or snow plowed. Those were just the realities of living in a machine-run city, and they’re not even particularly egregious examples of shady Chicago politics.
But what we’ve seen in the last four years is not politics as usual. For me, the most obvious evidence is the abuse of the filibuster. Complain all you want that Harry Reid is ineffective. The fact is, the Senate Republicans have engaged in a conspiracy to grind its business to a halt. Legislation that should require passage by a simple majority now requires a super majority—every single one, or it will be filibustered. They have effectively held the Senate hostage in opposition to how the founders had intended the houses of Congress to work, and that is quite clear. It is unprecedented in the history of the United States, and it is the overriding reason that the art of bipartisan politicking has gone out the window. It is not because of the Democrats. It is because of the Republicans, and it’s your country and your rights that are stake. They are not interested in protecting the rights of the minority. They have ostracized the moderates in their own party, to the point that group think is a requirement. Their behavior implies that they’re not big believers in democracy.
The second most obvious way politics has overtly changed for the worst is the acceleration of voter suppression strategies in swing states, from voter roll “purges” and lying (or not) about requiring voter IDs (which hits Democrats particularly hard) to shortening voting days and hours. If you’re curious about these developments, tune into The Rachel Maddow Show. She’s been covering this story for months. It is so blatantly undemocratic that it’s hard to believe these people consider themselves proud Americans. (I know. It’s not, really, but it should be.)
Obama is by no means perfect, but considering the brick wall he has been up against, he has been remarkably effective. I do not agree with all of his policies, and have to laugh at those who insist he’s a Socialist. But I didn’t expect miracles, because it quickly became clear what he was up against in the last presidential election. He has shown real spine in the face of a party full of racists who are not content until his every move is thwarted, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. The GOP is wholly uninterested in cooperation, and has stated as such. One cannot judge the effectiveness of the administration without taking into account the GOP’s radical use of the filibuster. I believe that if Obama manages to win re-election (despite voter suppression), and if we can fix the broken filibuster, he might accomplish great things for the American people in the next four years. For me, it’s that, or it’s turning the clock back to the 1950s. If that prospect doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’re not paying attention. The choice has never been clearer.
So if you’re reading this on November 6th and haven’t voted yet, what are you waiting for?
Joanne Kalogeras grew up outside of Chicago. She studied political philosophy at the University of Chicago before engaging in various and sundry other occupations, including a long stint in software development. San Francisco is her home, but she is currently residing in London where she is finishing her doctoral thesis on cosmopolitan theory at the London School of Economics’ Gender Institute.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.