Monday, March 7, 2016

Republican Presidential Candidates Are Bad For Women (Yes, Even the "Moderate" One)

We have hand lengthy discussions both in class and on this blog about whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is better for feminists. However, what we have not discussed is which of the Republican presidential candidates is best for women and women's rights. In this blog, I largely focused on the candidates' views on family leave, reproductive rights, and how they talk to and discuss women. 

Donald Trump
It is difficult to pin down exactly why Donald Trump is bad for women (other than the fact that he is a misogynist who somehow still believes he is God's gift to the world and to women) because it is stunningly hard to actually know where he stands on policy issues. Indeed, even the "Issues" section of his own website is incredibly vague. His "Issues" pages include videos on: "Competent Leadership," "Live Free of Die," "Political Correctness," "Unifying the Nation," and "The Establishment." 

Honestly, I could not bring myself to watch any of the videos because I do not want to watch or listen to Donald Trump for that long nor do I want to give him the satisfaction of another viewer. 

Sadly, news articles and even his own speeches do not clarify his position on women's rights issues. There have been articles about Trump being the "Best Republican PresidentialCandidate on Women's Health Issues" or, conversely, articles about Trump being the "Worst Candidate for Women's Rights." In his Super Tuesday speech, Trump said, "I'm going to be good for women, and women's health issues." However, almost immediately following this (baffling) statement, Trump went on to say that he intendeds to defund Planned Parenthood. This statement itself contradicts Trump's previous statements praising Planned Parenthood for the work they do for women's health (minus their providing a place for safe and legal abortions of course). Additionally, Trump has stated that though he is pro-life he does support abortion exceptions in instances of incest or rape or if the life of the mother is in danger.

When asked about his thoughts on paid family leave, Trump yet again gave a typical noncommittal answer: "Well it's something that's being discussed, I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it. But certainly there are a lot of people discussing it." 

So, essentially I have no idea where Trump stands on any issue, let alone issues largely effecting women. However, what I do know however, is that Trump consistently treats women with disrespect and condescension while simultaneously sexualizing and belittling them. A man who has no real position on any issues and who seems incapable of treating others with basic human decency is not a president who will be good for any of his constituents, and especially not for women. 

Ted Cruz

Cruz's website has a much more detailed "Issues" sections than Trumps, which makes his stance on certain issues much more well defined. According to his "Life, Marriage and Family" page, Cruz believes that life is a precious gift from God which "[e]xtreme leftists" are trying to "extinguish." The site then states that if "Ted" is elected president on his first day in office he will instruct his Attorney General to investigate Planned Parenthood (even though his own home state of Texas has already cleared the organization of any wrongdoing). The page then goes on to list Cruz’s “accomplishments” including: fighting to take away taxpayer dollars from PlannedParenthood, leading the charge for 13 states to ban "partial birth abortion" (medically known as "intact dilation and extraction"), and defending New Hampshire’s parental-notification laws.

For someone who is so pro women having children (even when the pregnancy is a result of rape) Cruz does not support a federal family leave policy, though he does seem to support the concept personally.

Marco Rubio
Surprisingly, Marco Rubio does appear to be in favor of paid family leave and he actually lays out a plan which would allow for a 25% non-refundable tax credit for businesses that "voluntarily offer" a minimum of four weeks paid family leave.

Rubio was a cosponsor on the legislation introduced to defund Planned Parenthood. He was also one of the senators who introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which moved to repeal the free contraceptives women could receive as part of the Affordable Care Act. He defended his “pro-life” position by saying "One the one and is the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body - which is a real right- and on the other hand is the right of an unborn child to live... As a lawmaker I must choose which one of these two sides takes precedence and I have chosen to err on the side of life." Thus dismissing a woman's legal right to her own body. Though this position makes more sense when you hear that apparently Rubio believes there is scientific "unanimity that human life begins at conception" (which many a doctor would obviously vehemently disagree with).

So, essentially, Rubio supports women making less then men, not having access to contraceptives, getting pregnant because they do not have access to free or affordable contraceptives, not being able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and giving birth. But hey, at least he will maybe, potentially, encourage some employers to give you four weeks of maternity leave. 

John Kasich
According to his website, as Governor of Ohio, Kasich helped to provide for state funding for rape crisis centers. However, the site also goes on to say that during his eighteen years in Congress, Kasich regularly opposed federal funding for abortions and voted to ban “partial-birth abortions.” Just this past week he signed a bill which prohibits Ohio from "contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions." Such a bill will almost certainly have a devastating effect on women's access to health services.

Additionally, Kasich believes that it should be up to employers to determine if their employees get paid family leave. The only solution he has really offered to address this issue it giving women the flexibility to work from home and telecommute. While this suggestion has merit for some parents, it completely ignores those who work in industries were this is either impractical or impossible. 

Kasich also recently made the blunder of saying that he was elected to office in part because “women…left their kitchens” for him.

So, none of the Republican candidates appear to actually be "good" for women. In deciding between candidates, Republican voters who are concerned about the rights of women can only choose the least terrible of the candidates.  


Kate said...

This article reflects a lot of the issues I have spoken about with my mom about abortion and specifically, Marco Rubio. Growing up in a very conservative, religious environment, I was one of the only democrats I knew (in college) - although I am happy to say that my mom voted for Obama. But this election, she's interested in Rubio, and talking to her about his stance on abortion and women's rights has been challenging. While she is a nurse who works with new mothers, and therefore is constantly surrounded by all the varieties of family situations and pregnancy complications, she does not support abortion. Because of her deeply held religious beliefs, she agrees that life begins at conception. While I completely disagree with her, she is my mom, and I try to build rational ways of arguing with her about these issues.
I think one of the hardest things to do, but perhaps one of the most important, is to separate one's personal beliefs from what is best for society as a whole. The Republican candidates, in their positions on abortion, appeal to their constituents personal biases about family planning. But when you actually get to the bottom of what those beliefs are, it comes down to an unrealistic expectation that everyone in the world should line up with specific moral beliefs because it would be "in their best interest." This will never happen. Religious groups - and some Republican candidates I'm sure - like to use this approach when pushing abstinence as well (and therefore making contraceptives unavailable to young women).
Women will always seek out abortion, even if it is difficult to procure. Republicans and conservatives need to realize that their ideas about morality cannot protect women who need a medical procedure performed. Someone who is going to be President of the United States must be able to set his personal opinions aside and do what is right for the nation, a nation full of women who need access to safe, state of the art medical care. None of those services take away the right of his family to decide to keep every baby they create.
These arguments may sound rudimentary and unnecessary - and I agree there is so much more nuance to the conversation about abortion and women's health. But recently I have struggled to create productive dialogue with people I care about who have views that I believe are dangerous for society. Maybe if we can all engage a few people who plan to support these candidates, we can influence a few more people to use their vote to protect women's rights.

Liz said...

I appreciate that you have laid out each Republican candidate's stance on women's issues. At a time when women's abortion rights are under attack, it's important to look into each candidate's policy stances when it comes to women's health. I have been really frustrated by Republican's stance to defund Planned Parenthood with the exception of Trump. I feel that they are ignoring Planned Parenthood's history of providing health services to women especially women living in poverty stricken areas. I really dislike that its men deciding what's best for women.

As for Trump, its hard to understand where he stands on certain issues. Correct me if I am wrong but Trump is definitely breaking with the general Republican party's stance on abortion and Planned Parenthood. Still, I am not quite sure he's a great champion of women's rights as Caitlyn Jenner suggested a few weeks ago. First of all, his dislike of Fox Channel's Megyn Kelly is telling. I get if you dislike someone especially when you disagree about the manner they choose to portray you on television. However, the language that Trump has used towards her is so disrespectful to me as a woman.

I agree with Kate's comment above that a President should be able to set his personal opinions aside and do what's best for everyone in the nation. I don't believe that the remaining Republican candidates like Cruz are suitable for the presidency. I definitely believe Trump is NOT the candidate that American wome should elect as President.

Courtney Hatchett said...

I wanted to come back to this post and these comments after some of the recent Trump comments about "punishing women" for having abortions. Last week, Trump commented that women should have "some sort of punishment" if they have an aboriton. After a media flurry, he later released a statement clarifying that he meant only the doctors should be punished, not women who have the abortions--because they are "victims."

It baffles me that this man has so much public support and is running for office. I agree with Kate and Liz's comments that "a President should be able to set his personal opinions aside and do what's best for everyone in the nation." However, I think there is a certain point that cannot be crossed. A man who would "misspeak" and say that women should be punished for having abortions is not the kind of man who can be politically-wrangled into speaking for and about the women of the US in any appropriate way. I don't think Trump can "set aside" his personal inability to understand the desperate situations many American women face to thoughtfully engage in any sort of dialogue intended to "Make America Great Again."