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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paul Ryan: One Feminist's Perspective

It simply boggles my mind.

I mean, last time I checked, the year was 2012, right? So, how is it that there are two Neanderthal men on the Republican ticket for the top two offices in the most powerful, affluent, "advanced" country in the Western Hemisphere?

Forget Neanderthal. They are pre-Neaderthal. If you check their wrist watches, I'm quite certain you'll find scratch marks from where their wrists drag along the floor when they walk.

I've long ago written off Mitt Romney as a pathetic man who is desperately trying to redeem his father's performance in the election process (his father, George, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 1968. While initially a front-runner, he proved an ineffective campaigner, and fell behind Richard Nixon in polls.) 

Mitt Romney was, by all accounts, a fairly successful governor of Massachusetts (his father served as Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969). While Mitt Romney's gubernatorial record as a 'job creator' leaves a lot to be desired, he at least created a health care plan in Massachusetts that continues to enjoy enormous success.

And yet, he's not running on that record. Indeed, he's distanced himself from "RomneyCare" because "ObamaCare" is pattered after it and his voter base HATES "ObamaCare" . They want him - and he has promised - to get rid of it within the first ten seconds he's in office.

Rather, he's running on the fact that he is a successful businessman. Except, the "success" seems to be about how much personal wealth he has accumulated, not how many jobs he's created and how many successful businesses he's initiated. He's obviously hiding his tax returns because, as his wife says, there's lots of "ammunition" there. I have absolutely no doubt.

I was concerned about his choice of VP because I feared, with the right choice, it could swing the votes in the groups that helped elect Mr. Obama: People of Color - especially Hispanics - Women, Young People and Independents.

And then came Paul Ryan.

He's a Roman Catholic who claims that his fiscal policies are based in his faith tradition, as well as having been influenced by the philosophy of author Ayn Rand - who happens to have been an atheist. Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead, which promote objectivism, the belief that individualism and self-interest is the key to success and happiness.

I know. Go figure. Wait a minute. Never mind. Don't even try to make sense of that combination. You could hurt yourself if you try. It's positively schizophrenic.

Perhaps that's why his proposed budget has been described as "immoral" by Sister Simone Campbell who helped to organize and lead 14 other nuns in a cross country tour known as "Nuns On A Bus". The purpose of the tour was to work with legislators to help them understand the implications of Ryan's proposed budget because "it harms people who are already suffering" - a demographic that, for all the other problems with the Roman Catholic church, has always been the passionate apostolate of RC women religious. 

I can't speak for any other demographic, but let me tell you why this feminist is horrified by the thought of a man like Paul Ryan in the White House.

When Ryan's selection was announced this past weekend, NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted that the VP pick is a bad one for women. She wasn't just whistling Dixie. Here's what I've learned.

He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  You don't have to be a feminist to see that equal pay for equal work should be a principle that is beyond gender distinctions. It's a no-brainer for those who understand the foundational principle of this country of "liberty and justice for all". Apparently, Ryan missed that piece in his 6th-grade Civics course.

He is firmly opposed to reproductive justice. Ryan would overturn Roe v. Wade, banning abortion in cases of rape and incest and when the mother’s life is at risk. He also was a co-sponsor of the Sanctity for Human Life Act, a 'personhood' amendment which would ban abortion as well as certain kinds of fertility treatment and birth control. He’s voted at least four times to defund Planned Parenthood (and all of the preventative health care that comes with it for millions of people).

He is, of course, opposed to the Affordable Care Act.  He’s also vehemently against the law’s birth control coverage, saying it “violates our founding principles” to not allow people to deny women basic health care needs. Apparently, he missed a lot of Civic classes in the 6th grade.

Paul Ryan/Eddie Munster: separated at birth
He believes that if you weren't born here, you don't belong here. Ryan has voted against the DREAM Act and for extreme legislation in 2005 that would have made immigration violations felonies in Wisconsin, resulting in many undocumented immigrants being subject to indefinite detention. This summer, Ryan joined  House Republicans in criticizing President Obama’s “deferred enforcement” plan, which would allow children of undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.

He's Robin Hood in reverse.  Women are the majority of the recipients of both Medicare and (a sizable 69% of ) Medicaid, and the majority of the Medicaid population are people of color. Not to mention the programs provide critical care to people with disabilities, older people and children. Ryan’s budget (which Romney has has endorsed) would cut food stamps, child care, and lots of other often lifesaving assistance for marginalized communities, while cutting taxes for billionaires like Romney to .83%. I am not making this up. 

 He’s emphatically, consistently homophobic. Ryan has voted against gay couples adopting children or being foster care parents, he's solidly against marriage equality, and voted no to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I know. You're shocked.

As one wonk recently quipped, "Paul Ryan is Dick Cheney with better hair". 

Make no mistake: This election process is not so much political as it is ideological. The lines could not be more clearly drawn. The choices could not be more clear.

Women have a great deal to lose, as do people of color, children, the elderly and infirm and people who live in poverty.

As feminists, male or female, we absolutely must mobilize to get out the information about the Romney-Ryan ticket. I am convinced that an educated and informed electorate will never stand for the ideological agenda that these two men represent.

And, if you also happen to be a Christian - you know, one who actually tries to follow the teachings of Jesus who had a lot to say about women and poor people - then listen to and heed these words:

Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end." (Acts 1:8)

If not you, then who?

If not now, then when? 


Bruce Garner said...

Perhaps equally scary is his experience with real life. He's from a small town in a state with a lot of rural space in it. He has absolutely no connection to what living in a major urban area is like. He no clue about the needs of urban areas, the problems faced by them, the fiscal realities of them. He's a babe in the woods. He doesn't even grasp the idea of what an "entitlement" really is. Social Security, for example, is not an entitlement. You pay taxes to participate, making it what it was intened to be as a form of insurance against income lost to retirement, disability or death. Nor does he grasp the entitlements we provide to certain big businesses and even farmers. I don't know whether he isn't aware or finds them to be okay because they benefit the "right" people. The boy is scary.

Bruce Garner

Kay & Sarah said...

I totally agree with you both!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Scary is not even the word for it, Bruce. It's downright alarming. He's one loose rock on a very slippery slope to fascism.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kay&ampSarah - As we used to say in the 60s: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

Bex said...

@Bruce Garner: I don't like Ryan any better than you do, but I wouldn't call him a babe in the woods. He doesn't come from a small town. Janesville, Wisconsin's population is over 60,000, and it's not THAT far from Chicago. He knows very well what Social Security is, and his ideology tells him that it must be abolished. He has an excellent grasp of government largesse, since his family's company builds stuff like highways and was involved in the construction of O'Hare Airport. Yeah, he's scary.

Marthe said...

If these men win, it won't be about anything as dignified as ideology, it will be the Triumph of the Attractive Sociopaths ... their only real goal is power, absolute and demeaning to anyone not exactly like themselves.
They are vultures in eagling attire - so very formal and allegedly patriotic, but ever so much dangerous, uglier than even the emperor's new clothes.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bex - they both scare me sober

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

But, tell us how you really feal, Marthe, and this time, don't hold back ;-D!

Marthe said...

Ah, Elizabeth, I've very nearly overcome the republican brain disablility inherited at birth ... mostly able to breathe, 2, 3, 4 before over-reacting to the threat inherent in stupidity, but, alas, these guys and their plan to send women and poor people into the barefoot, pregnant, subservient position they believe is the natural way for them to rule, prosper, and thrive ... ah, well, I get a tad worked up. Their campaign of disdain does upset even the practiced calm of tungsten prayer beads.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I understand. I was only teasing. Believe it or not, I had to take several deep breaths before writing this post. It makes me bonkers. I want to have a personal conversation with every single woman who is considering voting for this ticket.

Megahloo said...

I am supremely baffled by dear friends who support this ticket. It seems nothing I say, no fact I offer, makes any difference. I have asked people that if they feel they absolutely must take votes from Obama that they vote for me. I do not scare easily, however as a working class woman, and college student, I am deeply afraid of this year's election.

Sir said...

Great analysis for those of us trying to stay in the loop.

Lindy said...

"He's from a small town in a state with a lot of rural space in it."

One of the towns I grew up in has about 3000 people in it. The other one has 311, and I know most of them personally. There's not a damn thing wrong with that.

Linda Diane McMillan

Bruce Garner said...

Sorry Bex, but 60,000 is a "small town" for those living in urban areas. And being near Chicago doesn't mean he has experience with the realities of a major urban area. He is bright, but also an admitted geek. But I have seen no evidence that there is much common or street smarts there either. He sleeps in his DC office rather than having a residence there. He doesn't want to know the realities of life, even where he works every day. That is exactly why he can be so cavalier about cuts to programs that have such an impact on older folks and/or poorer folks....he has not connection to that reality. And of course Romney is so high in the stratosphere that someone probably had to explain to him that having 1 million a year income rather than 10 didn't define being poor.

I am hopeful that Ryan's Achilles' heel will be his lack of either empathy or knowledge about the real world. I suspect he is very good at the abstract but not so much where human needs interact with the realities of life. It's odd that one who had to help raise himself after his father died so young would be so callous about others less fortunate. Some learn. Some hide. He hides from the 70 year old widow who waits for hours just to get her meds from a Medicaid clinic in downtown Chicago and DC.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

megahloo - The only thing I know to combat that kind of anxiety about the election is to pour myself into getting out information. I really do trust an informed and educated electorate. We've seen the 'personhood' amendments defeated in state after state after the word gets out about what it really means. I think that's our best hope in this election.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sir - You're welcome.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Lindy - Nothing wrong with small towns or big cities. Ryan doesn't seem qualified to lead in either.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bex - Re: Ryan's Achilles heel: from your mouth to God's ear.

Hilary said...

The Very Serious Commentariat on NPR this morning were taking about how "young people" might be attracted to Ryan because of his apparent youth (in fairness, some on the show did say that many young people were turned off by his social positions). I was so tempted to call in and ask them to instead comment Ryan's budget approach that believes the wealthy will be incentivized when you give them them MORE while the poor will be incentivized by giving them LESS?

But no, they won't talk about a budget that doesn't mathematically work, is dystopian in its approach to society, and is completely at odds with Christian teaching. They want to grab their pearls and be shocked (shocked!) about the incivility of it all and how cute Ryan is. Also.

I agree with Marthe. They are sociopaths. What was that old line about tyranny coming in wrapped in the flag and holding a bible?

Hilary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew said...

Ryan does not "get" how pervasive sexual violence is against women. A close female friend of mine was raped (which led to pregnancy). On the one hand, he does not want Catholic institutions to have to provide birth control. He feels it violates their religious freedom. So, you have to pay for it out of pocket if you work for such a place. Even if celibate. Because if you get sexually assaulted and get pregnanct the same Ryan is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Which means that if you feel called to celibacy, you still need to take birth control and pay for it with your own money to prevent pregnancy in case you get raped because in his world abortion will not be an option either. Scary.

Bex said...

@Bruce Garner: Ryan's Achilles heel is his budget. When focus groups are told what's actually in it, they don't believe it. They better start, because he essentially zeros out Medicaid, and most people, not just the poor, need that for end-of-life care. Ryan did not grow up "poor," although his father's Social Security survivor's benefits bought him an education at Miami of Ohio. He is wealthy now (so is his wife) and won't have to worry about end-of-life care. You're right. This does not do much to engender empathy in a person.

Jeffrey Wells, RN said...

Ms Kaeton -

Did your blog get hyjacked by President Obama's TelePrompTer? Yes, Mr Obama's TelePrompTer has its own blog!

I am so happy that the Dem lib leftiests' work to destroy the imporatant safety nets of Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Unemployment benefits, etc are being exposed. The Dems are spending everything and there is going to be nothing left to help our beloved elders, the poor and needy, and our children who will inherit this mess.

Romney and Ryan have plans to save these safety nets. Mr Obama has already taken $700 Billion+ from Medicare and the wild spending/50%+ increase in debt in 3 1/2 years are crushing these important safety nets.

You won't get this reportage from the tired, lazy, complicit legacy media. As citizens, we have an obligation to read broadly, listen to opposing views, talk and think for ourselves, our families, loved ones and those in need.

Thank you very much for this forum.

Bex said...

@Jeffrey Wells RN: Thanks for the Republican talking points and the unsupported allegations. Did you know Romney uses a TelePrompTer?

Marthe said...

Correction, Jeffrey - the current administration removed the Insurance Company scam package known as Medicare Advantage from the program to SAVE money and eliminate inefficiencies ... no services to actual people were effected by the cutting of payments to "providers" making a profit on the sick. No one talks about the immorality of profit from the sickness of the neighbors (which is what for profit insurance companies do - they bet on health, then deny benefits to as many as possible to pay off investors). I submit that the only morally just, compassionate, appropriate system of healthcare in a country claiming to be either Christian or civilized IS a single payer plan in which all participate, NOT private premium based insurance plans skimming wealth from tragedy.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hillary, that's the quote I was looking for. Who said that?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Sometimes attributed to Sinclair Lewis but apparently first appeared in Christian Century in 1936 by James Waterman Wise, Jr.