If there’s no ‘war on women’ then the conservatives, at the least, are offering us a variation on the Patriarchs Last Stand narrative. Women comprise 50.8% of the nation’s population and 49.6% of the Nevada populace. Going a step further, for all the chatter about the Gender Gap in electoral politics, this is not a recent phenomena.
The “gap” has existed since the presidential election of 1988, or 26 years. It’s been three decades since the Republicans achieved unquestionable success with female voters — 1984. It’s also been three decades of Republican shifts to the right, and to the adoption of an agenda which places the desires of corporations above the needs of the general population. Women have figured that out.
Women are more likely to see public assistance programs as helping people in need rather than ‘creating dependency,’ to support policies which are predicated on community rather than ‘individualism,’ and to believe the power of Wall Street should be curtailed than men. [CAWP pdf] In short, there are significant gender differences in political issues, and the GOP agenda is sliding (or lurching?) away from the women’s side of the electoral ledger.
At this point it ought to be acknowledged that ideological differences hold greater sway than simple gender differences would explain. [Atlantic] There is a tinge of religiosity in the conservative realm — conservatives being more likely to express an intransigent position in terms of Good and Evil, rather more reminiscent of St. Augustine before his conversion from Manicheaism to Christianity? Conservatives being more likely to express opinions which call for the punishment or deterrence of deviation from ‘social norms’ than moderates or liberals.
The interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Cases brings the ideological, the gender, and the economic issues together in a complicated weaving of political strategy and strands of ideological/gender political orientation. There is one element of the decision which illustrates the ties that bind the so-called Religious Right and the Corporations:
“Congress provided protection for people like the Hahns and Greens by employing a familiar legal fiction: It included corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons.” But it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of this fiction is to provide protection for human beings. A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends.” [BlmbrgLaw] (emphasis added)
The logic is convoluted but clear: A corporation is a person, therefore a corporation has religious protection, AND a corporation is a creation of persons and therefore has protection for its religious beliefs. This reasoning doesn’t address issues regarding the type of organization created for the purpose of conducting commerce.
If the businesses were single proprietorships or partnerships would their ‘protection’ be more limited? Nor did the majority decision address the issue of knowledge v. ignorance — is a birth control method which prevents pregnancy automatically considered a form of abortion?
A court which has already ruled that Corporations are People (Citizens United) has now bestowed upon that “form of organization” the benefits of religious liberty. In doing so the Supreme Court of the United States has bundled the demands of a corporation with the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
It’s time to recall that 55% women who responded to polling concerning the circumstances in which the U.S. is a more successful nation said that we are better off when we emphasize community and shared responsibility, and 37% replied that placing the emphasis on self reliance was more successful. [CAWP pdf] With this in mind, as the Supreme Court continues to rule that corporations are people, and people are individuals, it moves the nation in a direction opposed to the thinking of most women.
Democratic candidates interested in securing women’s votes would be well advised in the upcoming midterm elections to:
1. Support the Amendment to declare that corporations are not people. [MTA] Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is already on board:
“It is unacceptable, that the recent Supreme Court decisions have taken power away from the American voter, instead giving it to a select few. Soon, Chairman Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Senator Udall and Bennet’s constitutional amendment. The Senate will vote on this legislation after it is reported out of the Committee. I urge my colleagues to support this constitutional amendment – to rally behind our democracy. I understand what we Senate Democrats are proposing is no small thing – amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly. But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced. Let’s keep our elections from becoming speculative ventures for the wealthy and put a stop to the hostile takeover of our democratic system by a couple of billionaire oil barons. It is time that we revive our constituents’ faith in the electoral system, and let them know that their voices are being heard.” [Reid]
The Amendment proposal, (pdf) sponsored by Senators Udall and Bennet, addresses the problems created by Citizens United in regard to campaign finance laws, and may need further broadening to incorporate concerns about the ramifications of declaring that all corporations have all the rights of individual persons.
2. Support a Women’s Health Care Access bill. Advocate for the 90% of women in the U.S. who use some form of birth control. Advocate for those who use contraceptive medication for the treatment of endometriosis, menorrhagia, persistent ovarian cysts, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. ** Note to male politicians — if you don’t know what these conditions are, “STFU” about women taking the pill “for fun.”
3. Remind voters that of the 138 members of the House of Representatives who voted against the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, not a one was a Democrat. [Roll call 55] (Happy note: all the members of the Nevada delegation voted in favor of the authorization)
4. Get opponents on record. Does the person favor allowing corporations to have the same rights as a real person? Does the person support a Women’s Health Care Access bill? Does the person favor equal pay for equal work? Does the person favor a bill to mandate maternity leave? It’s never too early to start defining one’s opponent as Pro-Family but only if the Family is narrowly defined as the Pater Familias.