In this season of polls, my favorite came out a few weeks back from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, showing Mitt Romney with zero percent of the nation’s black vote. Zero as in nada. Zip. Nothing. Because really, when you think about it, why would any black person vote for the man? Sure, Mia Love put on a fiery speech at the convention. But she was talking to a sea of white faces—some of whom were classy enough to throw peanuts at a black CNN camerawoman as they taunted: “This is how we feed animals.” Way to widen the tent, RNC.
But while minorities may have really been minorities at that convention, there were a lot of ladies in the audience, holding up their signs and standing to applaud and screaming themselves hoarse in support of their party. Which sort of raises the question: Why would any woman vote for that man?
Not surprisingly, it turns out a lot of the women in attendance were simultaneously clapping and holding their noses, according to the New York Times. Abortion? Birth control? Same-sex marriage? You’d never have known America’s been arguing about any of this stuff if you asked the ladies of the RNC. “We don’t talk social issues,” said a spokeswoman at the “Woman Up!” pavilion. Utah State Senate candidate Deidre Henderson opined that social issues are merely “a distraction.” Kristen Soltis, an adviser to the mighty Crossroads Generation super PAC, told the Times, “Anything that gives women the idea that they can’t find friends in the Republican Party is unhelpful.” She’s personally pro-gay marriage, and hoping the party will gradually become more open to the idea. Uh, Kristen? Seeing as the official party platform is calling for traditional marriage only, not to mention a total ban on abortion and the public display of the Ten Commandments, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
The elephant’s there, even if these women aren’t talking about it. Simply refusing to address what Democrats are calling the Republicans’ “War on Women” isn’t going to make it go away. It was telling that the most the GOP could do was stand the occasional uterine-endowed American behind a podium—Ann Romney, Love, Nikki Haley, Condoleezza Rice—to say, “Look at me! Do I look oppressed?” Well, yeah, you do, since you haven’t got anything substantial to refute the accusation that your party doesn’t care about you and your rights. Everything the Republicans have to offer is designed to lead America back to the past—to those good old days when the little lady was in the kitchen with an apron, and the blacks and Latinos lived on the other side of town. Need an abortion? Find a hack with a coat hanger. Want birth control? Keep that aspirin between your damned knees. And if you’re gay, just pretend you’re not, like the late, great Roy Cohn and J. Edgar Hoover did.
I surely don’t agree with everything President Obama has done. I’m particularly concerned about his disregard in a number of spheres for due process. I’m appalled that he won’t stand up to the gun lobby. And he was way too slow to come to the table on the issue of gay rights. But at least I belong to a party where I’m allowed to say I disagree with him, as well as on what and why. I don’t have to stand at the podium and ignore that great big pachyderm looming above me while I smile and say, “What, me worry? I trust all these rich old white guys to look after me, just like they always have.”
Maybe Madeleine Albright said it best, on the eve of the Democrats’ own convention: Mitt Romney has “become captive to a party that thinks women should not have voices.” At least, not voices that do more than emptily insist “I love you, women!” the way Ann Romney did. Another new poll puts Obama ahead of Romney among likely female voters, 52 percent to 36 percent. I can’t help wondering who those 36 percent are.