The who and the why of President Obama’a reelection was too obvious for the big-bucks pundits to miss. It was a victory for women, largely propelled by women, and punctuated by the election of five more women to the Senate. Both parties could see almost from the beginning of the campaign that women favored the president. It proved to be a double-digit margin. It was even larger among mothers.
Yet the GOP couldn’t resist the pull from the far right to play stupid. Double stupid. First they wrote a platform plank that was a war on women. Then they made the very controversial Rep. Paul Ryan second man on their ticket. Mitt Romney is bearing the larger blame for their defeat, ironically leaving Ryan ready and eager to take the helm of the party. He’s already performing as if he’s the front-runner for 2016. Will they be that stupid again? Romney’s failing wasn’t that he wasn’t conservative enough. His failing was that he was too Republican – too rich, too white. Too removed from the less-fortunate 47 percent he didn’t want to serve anyway. Ryan is even more removed.
Women are unlikely to forget that Ryan is a lead sponsor of the “personhood” legislation, which would imprison women in any and every pregnancy. It would deny them the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under law. It would instead extend that guarantee to the fertilized egg, whose rights then would supersede the rights of the mother.
For this and other reasons, the president’s reelection has shown the GOP that it has no future as the party ruled by white men. It was a victory for working people, and especially for the women who now form 49 percent of the American workforce. It flew against the unprecedented tidal wave of money that Karl Rove and the super PACs threw at Romney-Ryan and the Republicans running for the Senate against incumbent Democrats. Every incumbent Democrat was reelected.
It not only preserved the Democrats’ slender majority in the Senate but it increased it by three seats. It ensured that the Democrats will be in the driver’s seat in filling any vacancies in the Supreme Court that may arise in Obama’s last four years. There could be as many as three – a golden opportunity to give women real muscle in the court. Hopefully, the major women’s organizations are now eyeing women on the federal bench who would bring exceptional legal minds to their causes in filling those vacancies. Bloody theater awaits any nomination. The latest defeat surely has the Republicans sharpening their knives.
Changes in the Supreme Court are but one of the opportunities women have won in this election to move the country in new directions. It should tell them they are capable of electing a woman to the presidency now at any time they know they have the right woman for the job. They surely realize they would not have to defer to men in that choice. Yet they are bound by centuries of conditioning to be wise enough to choose a woman proven by high office to have won the admiration of both women and men. It won’t be long. They know for sure that history is going their way.
Might that woman be Hillary Clinton in 2016? Will she be in the Obama cabinet in his second term? Never has there been a presidential prospect with credentials close to hers: eight years in the White House, a term in the Senate, and the foremost seat in the cabinet. The president has clearly benefitted from her classy performance as Secretary of State. Will she have the interest and health to try for the White House again? Hillary vs. Ryan?
There’s a contest worth drooling for.
Frank Mensel – November 2012