Thursday, 8 November 2012

on mitt romney not getting it

as i wrote on my own blog yesterday, i spent the late afternoon/evening watching the US election results come in with a group of friends, along with the concession speech by mr romney and the victory speech by mr obama.

plenty has been said across media & the web about mr obama winning the vote amongst women, black, latino & young voters.  the democrat campaign team mostly did this with their on-the-ground campaigning, with mr obama making some pretty strong statements designed to appeal particularly to these groups both at the democratic convention & the televised debates.  it helped that he had enough sense not to make gaffes like the "binders full of women" statement, and i think it's so much easier to avoid those kinds of gaffes when you actually have views and values that are respectful of women (for example), rather than when you're trying desperately to hide the views you do hold in order to appeal to the electorate.

in the wider vote, it was a good night for women, with several more elected to the senate.  and it was particularly satisfying to see women defeat some of the more, how can i put it politely, idiotic republican candidates who had some rather unpleasant opinions on pregnancy resulting from rape.

but what really brought it home to me - this fact that the GOP is so out-of-touch with women voters - was mr romney's concession speech.  there is no doubt that he was generally gracious in defeat, and looked a much better loser than he ever had as a candidate.  but the point in his speech where he started thanking his family really hit a nerve with me, this bit in particular:

Also wanna thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady. She's… She has been that and more to me and to our family and to the many people she has touched with her compassion and her care. I thank my sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign and thank their wives and children for taking up the slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.

and i was yelling out at that moment "this.  this is the reason why he lost the women's vote".  to me it was just like tony abbott's housewives doing the ironing bit.  it's the limiting of women's roles, or more the absence of any kind of acknowledgement that women have many different roles in various different combinations, and each one of those combinations is as valuable as the other.

that little bit in mr romney's speech failed to acknowledge his own wife as a political campaigner, which she was, even if only on his behalf in a desperate move to appeal to women voters.  it failed to acknowledge that women are political and have a place in politics.  it may well be that his daughters-in-law stayed at home & managed the house & kids, and there's nothing wrong with that.  but there were plenty of women who were out campaigning hard, on the republican side as well, and it would have been nice to see any kind of acknowledgment of their efforts somewhere in the speech.  or even some acknowledgment that women's work in sphere's other than home & hearth is valuable and important.

sure, it was moments after a resounding loss, and mr romney certainly hadn't had time to absorb what the election results were so clearly telling him and the republican party.  and there's no point in wondering if he's ever going to get it, because he is now out of the picture.  but will the republican party get it?  as a lefty, in a way i hope they don't because it continues to make them unelectable.  but the fact is that they have won plenty of leadership positions, controlling the house and many, many state governments.  they will implement policies that severely impact the lives of women, and i actually think it's vital that they do get it.  it's time for them to understand the reality of women's lives, their aspirations and struggles.

it's pretty clear that mr obama does understand these things, in a much better way that mr romney does.  the disappointment is that he hasn't managed to translate that understanding into too many concrete policies.  it's not looking good for the next year or so either.  my main hope for his second term is some decent supreme court appointments, and some commitment to international treaties on climate change.  it would be nice if he could have really implement a foreign policy that didn't involve bombing other countries, but i'm really not holding my breath on that one.


AnneE said...

Thank you for this - superbly put. I winced at Romney's comments on his wife too, but you've pinpointed exactly what was wrong with them. A US friend of mine forwarded me the personally addressed email she got the day after the election from Obama to thank her for her campaign help - and he signed it "Barack". I'll forward your post to her.

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