American women face a stark choice in the Iowa caucuses: re-elect feminist President Barack Obama who has advanced equality or caucus for a Republican who pledges to roll back generations of progress.
By the time California (where I chair the state Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus) will cast votes for president, the primary race will already be all but over, so my hope is that Iowa caucusgoers plant a flag for womens rights now when the race begins. What happens in Iowa will say a lot about how American presidential candidates believe they must campaign to capture the feminist vow in November 2012.
Feminism – equality without apology – knows no partisan bounds. Women across the philosophical spectrum make our own choices about our families, our careers, and our politics. But in order to keep the freedom to make those choices, women need feminist leaders at the helm with policies that advance our progress. More important than identity politics are the feminist policies that allow women to make progress. When we look key indicators like economics, health, patriotism, and leadership, American voters have a clear choice: progress for women from President Obama’s policies or repeal and reversal by his opponents.
On economics, the president’s Recovery Act saved or created 3.5 million jobs, extended credit to women-owned small businesses, invested in STEM (science technology engineering and math) jobs, and kept women cops on the beat, teachers in the classrooms, first responders at the ready, laborers repairing crumbling infrastructure, and providers delivering essential services to our most vulnerable. From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act to promoting pay equity to protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, President Obama has promoted feminism in the workplace and protected retirement with dignity. His Republican opponents including Congresswoman Bachmann opposed ALL these measures, and rejected a budget deal that would cut spending yet pay out the benefits working women have earned. As we know, all raised their hands pledging to walk away from an economic plan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKzGZj32LYc with a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases making the prospects of job creation quite dim. With Mitt Romney’s vow to veto http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/31/mitt-romney-immigration-dream-act-veto_n_1178060.html the DREAM Act, immigrant students who came to America through no fault of their own would have fewer opportunities to become productive members of society.
On health, consider the president’s strong voice for choice from overturning the Reagan-era Mexico City policy to promoting family planning in the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare reform means that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition: women can no longer be denied care via gender discrimination and we will have more choices in the exchanges that will states to innovate in expanding care. It also helps young Americans needing healthcare through Medicaid or their parents, including the over 600,000 young men and women under age 26 who have already signed up to receive or rejoin their parents’ health plans. Patients in need of lifesaving stem cell research have unprecedented access to protocols thanks to the Obama administration’s science-based healthcare policies.
Again, President Obama’s Republican opponents, most of whom have enjoyed government-funded healthcare, want to repeal these reforms, depriving women of our reproductive freedom and our patients’ rights.
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