Romney picks Ryan – will it cost him the female vote?
When John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate for the 2008 US Presidential elections, the Republicans were clearly attempting to reach out to the American female electorate.
Well, we all know how that turned out, but at least McCain seemed to have a smidgen of an inkling as to the significance of the female vote, though it was less than apparent in his actual policies.
This week saw another Republican presidential candidate choose their significant other, when Mitt Romney welcomed Congressman Paul Ryan (‘considered one of the intellectual leaders of his party’) to the ticket as Republican vice presidential candidate.
Romney’s gaffe of introducing Ryan as ‘the next President of the United States’ aside, he seems rather pleased with his cohort.
Some say Romney sees Ryan as his secret weapon in shifting the focus of the campaign debate towards issues he is more comfortable with.
So not banning abortion, marginalising contraception and treating women as second class citizens then?
Instead, Romney hopes to refocus on the country’s economic condition and fiscal recovery, and as former House Budget Committee chairman, he clearly thinks Ryan might be just the man to help him do it.
But while Ryan may bring a degree of financial knowledge to the party table, what he is less likely to bring is what the Republicans seem unable to secure in any significant number – the female vote.
Much has been written about the Republican Party, and in particular Romney’s ‘war on women’, with his anti abortion policies, the party’s stance against the Paycheck Fairness Act, and, not surprisingly, against Obamacare, which aims to help poorer American citizens and families, the majority of whom are women.
Given the backlash against Republican policies already in these early stages of the presidential race, you would think that selecting a running mate who would capture at least a modicum of the female vote would be a logical move, now wouldn’t you?
Well, wouldn’t you?
As far as Romney goes, you’d be wrong. Let’s take a closer look at Mr Ryan.
American publication ‘The Nation’ provides a comprehensive list of Ryan’s budget plans and policies and the negative impacts they will have on women.
Here are the edited highlights…. (or should that be low lights?)
Ryan is proposing that the federal budget be slashed across the board, most significantly with a 20% reduction to the Medicaid budget.
With women making up more than 70 percent of those who are covered by Medicaid – nearly 19 million low-income women – it will have an enormously disproportionate impact on the physical and financial wellbeing of women.
He also plans to slash the social security budget. Social security is a financial imperative relied on, again, disproportionately by women.
Ryan has voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which would make it easier for women to legally pursue equal pay claims and pay parity. Yes, he voted against a Fair Pay Act. It’s pretty obvious, then, how high equality for women is on Ryan’s agenda.
There are also planned budget cuts that would affect child care and food stamps – again, cuts that would predominantly impact upon women.
So financially, it’s a pretty bleak picture for women. And we haven’t even touched on the specific issues of abortion, birth control, in vitro fertilisation…..
As a staunch Catholic Republican, Ryan’s views on subjects such as these should come as no surprise, but just for the record…..
He co-sponsored the ‘Sanctity of Human Life’ Act, which would give a foetus the same rights as an individual, and strongly believes that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape or where the mother’s life is in danger.
He also voted to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood, even though that would also reduce resources for cancer and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.
He is against women having access to affordable contraception, and believes that religious-affiliated institutions should not provide insurance that covers birth control, calling it a violation of “our first amendment rights to religious freedom and conscience.”
Galling, but not surprising.
However, hard as it may be to swallow, some polls carried out in recent months have suggested that Paul Ryan is in fact vaguely popular among some rather surprising groups, namely senior citizens (a Rasmussen poll), and women (a CNN poll).
Only time will tell if this initial ember of semi-popularity will ignite……but based on policies espoused so far, if women in America do as they did unto McCain and Palin, the votes will be just as few and far between.