OP-ED | GOP Needs a Divorce So Voters Have Real Choice
Watching the GOP Convention, it was even harder than usual to get my kids to believe that I was registered Republican for the first 18 years of my voting life. I find it hard to believe myself.
I have to keep telling them (and myself) “This isn’t the Republican Party I grew up with.”
My father heavily influenced my politics at age eighteen. Dad had served with one of the US intelligence agencies and as a child I’d sit with him watching the brilliant BBC series “The World at War” and war films like Sink the Bismarck!, The Longest Day and Mrs. Miniver. My first experience with retail politics was having to canvas door to door an awkward 14 year-old when my father ran for the Board of Reps in Stamford. I hated it. The good news is Dad won.
Like Paul Ryan, teen me was obsessed with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I still have the tattered copy I read and reread in in my late teens and early twenties. But unlike Ryan, I grew out of what William F. Buckley referred to as “1000 pages of ideological fabulism” because maturity taught me that life isn’t as black and white as Rand painted it in, what is after all, fiction.
Here’s where I do still agree with Ayn Rand. In her last public speech, she said: (starts at 27 minutes) “The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called “Moral Majority” and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling—apparently with his approval—to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.”
It wasn’t long after I’d registered as a Republican that I started listening to the positions of certain socially conservative Republican congressman and senators and thinking: “Hold the phone…this isn’t anything I believe in.” And that was long before we had people like Congressman Todd Akin (R-Mo), a man who doesn’t even have a rudimentary understanding of female reproductive biology serving on the Science committee, and his co-sponsor of a bill limiting abortion funding to “forcible rape” (So being raped after being drugged by Rohypnol doesn’t qualify? White middle aged men really think they have the right to determine this?) is now the GOP vice-presidential candidate.
Here’s Ayn Rand on abortion and fetal “personhood”:
If any among you are confused or taken in by the argument that the cells of an embryo are living human cells, remember that so are all the cells of your body, including the cells of your skin, your tonsils, or your ruptured appendix—and that cutting them is murder, according to the notions of that proposed law. Remember also that a potentiality is not the equivalent of an actuality—and that a human being’s life begins at birth.
The question of abortion involves much more than the termination of a pregnancy: it is a question of the entire life of the parents. As I have said before, parenthood is an enormous responsibility; it is an impossible responsibility for young people who are ambitious and struggling, but poor… For such young people, pregnancy is a death sentence: parenthood would force them to give up their future, and condemn them to a life of hopeless drudgery, of slavery to a child’s physical and financial needs. The situation of an unwed mother, abandoned by her lover, is even worse.
I cannot quite imagine the state of mind of a person who would wish to condemn a fellow human being to such a horror. …. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”
By what right does anyone claim the power to dispose of the lives of others and to dictate their personal choices?
I can’t help thinking Ms. Rand would be rolling over in her grave at the prospect of a guy like Paul Ryan so close to the Presidency.
Samantha Bee of the Daily Show deserves an Emmy for her Swiftian satire which so brilliantly highlights the dysfunction that arises out of the unholy marriage of traditional GOP values of individualism and small government with social
GOP party leader Reince Priebus had his knickers in a twist Tuesday night when 1994 Mitt Romney completely contradicted 2012 Mitt Romney on a woman’s right to choose in a clip from campaign debate during a video tribute to Ted Kennedy.
Romney’s rebuttal to Ted Kennedy’s “multiple choice” gibe in that clip shows a more human, genuine side of him than anything we have seen thus far in his Presidential campaign.
“Many many years ago, I had a dear close family relative… that passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that or be a multiple choice, thank you very much.”
And yet he has wavered and is multiple choice, because he is presiding over a party and a platform that seeks to do exactly that - force its beliefs on others. That is why I can’t vote for a Republican on the national level, ever, until there’s a divorce from the marriage Reagan arranged.
There is nothing I would love more than for the Republican Party to return to throw off the social conservative mantle, because then we’d have some real alternatives. Pity the Obama for America fundraiser who resorted to the “but the other guy is worse” excuse when I said I wasn’t contributing to Obama until he got rid of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. I blasted the poor dude with both barrels, because I am SO sick and tired hearing that from the Democrats as a reason why I should vote for them or give them money when I disagree with policy.
But the fact is until the GOP realizes that Reagan made a dysfunctional marriage with the Religious Right, there is no alternative for me, particularly on the Federal level, even if the Republican candidate bright, moderate and appealing. I can’t risk voting for him, possibly tipping the balance in the House or Senate thus giving more power to the Todd Akins and Paul Ryans of this world, men who don’t even understand the basic biology of women’s bodies work, yet seek control over them.
These men haven’t carried a child. They haven’t had a miscarriage. They haven’t been sexually abused. I have. Thankfully, I haven’t been raped. But all of the experiences I’ve had changed me.
A child thinks the world is black and white. But as the good book says, once one becomes a man (or woman) one puts away these childish things. Romney proclaimed Ryan the “intellectual leader of the GOP.” Oy. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise when the party has gone this far down the road of anti-intellectualism, rejecting science and objecting to critical thinking.
A black and white perspective or dualism, is a sign of immaturity. Read William Perry’s research. Ann Romney’s charming but girlish proclamation “We love women!” shouldn’t distract voters from the anti-women platform behind the curtain. That Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi didn’t show the slightest bit of cognitive dissonance when she complained that the President “talks about giving us more control over health-care decisions, but instead grants that power to government bureaucrats” yet was onstage representing a party whose very platform is for putting the control of women’s intimate health care decisions under the control of government (and indeed, has already done or tried to do so in many states - transvaginal ultrasounds, anyone?) tells me just how far down the Rabbit Hole the GOP has gone. Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter, CC, wrote of how her grandmother co-founded Planned Parenthood in Arizona. Imagine.
I would love to have a real choice between two parties with distinct visions for the economy, education, healthcare and foreign policy, the issues that matter most to me. But I’m not willing to sacrifice my health, my daughter’s health, my sister’s health or any other woman’s health in order to achieve it. And this, my friends, is where my colleague Heath Fahle’s reasoning in his last column, How Romney Could Win Connecticut fails. Because no matter how frustrated I am with the Democrats on many issues (and believe me, I am, particularly education reform) I cannot and will not face the risk of tipping the balance on the Supreme Court. And I believe there are many independent women voters who think the same way I do. Linda McMahon might have made some inroads with women voters this time around, but electing someone to the Senate who would support a White House housing an Executive Team as inconsistent as Romney and as radical as Ryan is something every woman voter should consider deeply and carefully.
Meanwhile, the GOP has a choice to make. They can continue to move right into ultimate oblivion or get a divorce.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.