Why I Didn’t Vote for Mitt Romney

romney weird thumbs up

Last week, I proudly sent in my absentee ballot to the state of Pennsylvania. I had filled in the little oval next to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s names. The choice in this election, to me, was simple: I did not vote for Governor Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan because I don’t know.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports women’s rights or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney wants to further the policies of Ronald Reagan or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney likes his own healthcare plan or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports raising the minimum wage or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports the essential ideas of the Affordable Care Act or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports our auto industry and its workers or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney believes in climate change or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports bans on assault weapons or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney would’ve had the courage to take down Osama bin Laden or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney wants to regulate Wall Street or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney would’ve repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney would cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports clean energy research or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney would provide aid to victims of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney has an interest in restricting carbon emissions or not.

I don’t know if Mitt Romney supports federal aid for our nation’s poor, struggling, and underprivileged or not.

Actually, I’ll have to scratch that last one. Mitt Romney has been pretty clear on this issue throughout his campaign. Choosing Paul Ryan, author of the most radical budget plan the Congress has ever seen, only strengthened his resounding support for the core GOP principles of cutting both programs for the poor and taxes for the rich.

President Obama may not be perfect. His speeches, for example, have long lost the touch of inspiration and call to the common good which made John F. Kennedy such an effective and transcendent leader. President Obama lacks the extraordinary focus and ability to strong-arm Congress that marked Lyndon Johnson’s years in the Oval Office. He is less effective at bringing about peace than Jimmy Carter, and he has far less legislative know-how and political drive than Bill Clinton.

For the next four years, however, he is the man who truly has the ability to protect the interests of the many as our country continues along its path to full recovery. Likewise, he has the ability to guide our nation to a peaceful and expedient end to the war in Afghanistan. I entrust him with the task of nominating wise, reasonable men and women to the Supreme Court, should the need arise. Naturally, I believe that he alone is uniquely qualified to make major strides toward true equality for all American citizens, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, or socio-economic status.

“Four more years” sounds great to me.

GOP's War on Women (Part 54)

[liveblog]

Three days ago, during a Senate debate in Indiana, Republican candidate Richard Mourdock was asked about his anti-abortion views and possible exceptions. His response: “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”

I’m sorry, what? Are we in the `50s again? Is everyone wearing poodle skirts and listening to records? How are we still making such statements in 2012?

Mourdock attempted to clarify his statement later by saying that he never said that rape was something God intended. And yet, that seems to be exactly what he said. Even if the “it” in his statement referred to the life, as God is all-powerful, he also controls what led to that pregnancy and that would be rape.

If you think that this view is extreme or out-of-the-ordinary, it’s not. In fact, it’s quickly becoming the mainstream. Also consider the fact that Romney just recently cut an ad endorsing Mourdock in the Senate race, the only Senate ad that Romney has done in the 2012 race. And while his office has issued a statement saying that Romney does support exceptions in the case of rape, he has not pulled the ad.

But is Mourdock’s position any more ridiculous than Romney’s?

If you think about it, Mourdock is holding truer to the real pro-life stance. Logically, if you consider every fetus to be a life with all the rights that entails, allowing abortions in the case of rapes or incest makes no sense. That is like saying that if you met someone who was born of rape or incest, you would be allowed to kill them with no repercussions. It is devaluing the very life that Republicans claim they are protecting, even in cases where the mother’s life is at stake – that is, if you believe that we still have such cases. Hasn’t technology wiped out medical problems altogether at this point? – it’s still sticky moral ground because you’re essentially trading one life for another.

It you follow that Republican line of logic to its very end, this is what it actually looks like: A fetus is a life with the full rights that all living human beings have. Life is sacred. Abortion kills the fetus. Abortion is voluntary and pre-meditated. Abortion is murder. Murder is outlawed and morally unacceptable, therefore abortion should be outlawed and morally unacceptable.

Nowhere in this line of logic do exceptions to the rule come in. Nor should they. Murder is murder, and anyone on the street would tell you that we shouldn’t accept murder as a part of life. It is a crime that in severely punishable.

I am by no means defending the Republican pro-life stance. I am merely trying to show that the Republican stance is one of two things: hypocritical or extremist. Either you believe that life is sacred only in certain circumstances and not in others, or you believe that we should never allow abortions, even in the case of 12-year-old rape victims or daughters violated by their fathers or women who are sure to die during childbirth.

Feeling squeamish? You should be. And that is what is at stake in elections around the country right now: women’s rights to control their own body and to choose their own health care. If you are a woman, you should be voting Democratic to maintain your right to decide what happens to your body, a right that for some reason is still contested in the 21st century. If you are a man, you should be voting Democratic to protect your mother, sister, wife, or daughter.

The one silver living in this entire debacle is that Mourdock seems sure to lose the Senate race in Indiana. But Romney is still a strong contender for the presidential race, and that is completely unacceptable if we don’t want to revert to the 1950s view of women and their place in society.

I’ll end with a quote from Tina Fey, who sums up what every women in America should be feeling right about now: “If I have to listen to one more grey-faced man with a two dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m gonna lose my mind.”

Townhall Vs. Regular Debates

The last two Presidential debates were about as different as they come. The first, on October 3rd, focused on domestic policy in a six-segment debate guided by a moderator, the now-infamous Jim Lehrer. The second, on October 16, was about foreign and domestic policy in a town hall stylee format, in which undecided voters asked questions and a moderator, Candy Crowley, facilitated the ensuing discussion.

On the surface alone, there are countless differences between the two. The formats themselves were poles apart, with one being audience-led and the other being moderator-led. The staging was also very dissimilar: the first debate involved the candidates standing behind podiums while the second debate had the candidates strolling across the stage to fully interact with the audience. The overall effect was much more formal for the first and relatively informal for the second.

And, as we all know, the debates were vastly different in actual practice as well. While the moderator was less central in the second debate, it was unanimous that Crowley did a better job than Lehrer, though the bar certainly was not set high. The candidates also performed incredibly differently at each debate. Republican candidate Mitt Romney came out a clear victor in the first debate sparring with a more reserved incumbent Barack Obama. The victor of the second debate was much more unclear among pundits, but Obama’s performance was immeasurably improved, and his campaign reported the biggest day of presidential campaign fundraising ever (including 2008) immediately following the debate.

So which debate format was better?

It really depends on the candidates and their particular strengths. The regular debate format is very straightforward, but candidates can sometimes come across as uptight or high-strung in such a formal atmosphere. Obama fell into this trap during the first debate. The moderator also makes all the difference, as seen between the first presidential debate and the vice presidential debate. While Lehrer had little to no control over the candidates or their time slots, Martha Raddatz managed to focus and redirect the conversation when she felt the questions were not done justice. This made the VP debate far more interesting and effective as a result.

The town hall format is much trickier. Instead of speaking in a controlled environment, the candidates have to face actual people and real (though rehearsed) questions. Their personality comes through as well, and the candidates have to seem relatable and empathetic while still answering questions properly. Romney’s aggression, which worked when focused on Obama’s monotone answers in the first debate, came across as over-the-top belligerence when directed towards the audience and moderator in the town hall. The town hall format makes the debate less scripted and forces the candidates away from their rehearsed talking points, which makes it more likely for candidates to make gaffes (binders full of women, anyone?) and creates moments when nobody really understands what’s going on.

The third and final presidential debate will play out this Monday, October 22, in the same format as the first debate. This one will be watched with much fervor, as Obama and Romney are neck-and-neck and their performances have been highly variable. The one sure thing, if it is anything like the last debate, is that it will spawn a million new tumblrs.

The Debate: An Apathetic Obama

In 2008 a dark-haired man stood, tall and erect with confidence and whisked Americans off their feet with his fiery promises of change.  In 2012, a salt and pepper haired man slumped, still tall but now with a subdued confidence and apathy replacing the passion that once ignited change. The latter, unfortunately, was who we saw Wednesday night during the first of three Presidential debates.

Where was that passion Obama is known for? Romney attacked and Obama maintained eye contact with only his notebook. Romney yelled and Obama still was engrossed only in his little book. The Obama of 2008 shook up the country and promised change. The Obama of 2012 apathetically stood at the podium. Obama could have said that four years ago he promised change and four years later, X is what he’s done to help the country. Instead he stopped after ‘change’, failing to boast about all the acts and programs he has signed into law and supported over the course of his presidency.

Much of what Obama has done has supported women- a voting bloc he inconveniently forgot to even mention Wednesday night. The baffling this is Obama has done so much to advance women’s rights, why would he not want to toot his own horn?  The first bill Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which makes it easier for people-women in particular- to challenge unequal pay. He also signed the Paycheck Fairness Act which strives to strengthen pay-equity laws. He supports the Violence Against Women Act and has appointed two women to the Supreme Court.

Romney on the other hand claims to support women but his actions only support the contrary: Romney adamantly promises to eliminate Planned Parenthood and Title X- a federal family-planning program while his running mate-Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter act which Obama signed into law.

After the countless attacks women have endured from Republicans regarding breast cancer screening, birth control coverage, family-planning funding, the Virginia law requiring vaginal ultrasounds and comments about legitimate rape, Obama should have slammed Romney, asking him how he could possibly subject women to these violations of their rights. Then Obama should have talked about what he has done to combat these impediments to women’s rights.  Obama could have expounded upon his baby-Obamacare- and the benefits it provides for women: insurance plans that are mandated to provide coverage for preventative services including child vaccinations, breast feeding support, no cost coverage for birth control, cover for maternity care and no co-pays.  Romney says the first thing he will do upon assuming office is repeal Obamacare. So then what happens to women? Does Obama believe that just because he has an 18 point lead with women, our issues no longer deserve debate time?

Obama had a wealth of ammunition he could have fired against Romney but even if ‘attack’ was not the approach Obama wanted to pursue, simply reveling in his own accomplishments could have reminded the public of the change that really did occur. Women mattered and Obama did things to prove that. So why did he choke? Why did he let apathy obscure the passion that once dominated?

I guess we will simply have to wait till the next round of debates to see if the Obama we elected four years ago is still in there. So, till October 22.