The Obama presidential campaign has recently turned its full attention to women voters and the fact that they are none too happy with the administration’s waffling on reproductive rights and other issues. Hence the idea was hatched to do a one-million-woman mailing targeting three groups-mothers, young women and older women-backed up by phone banking and a web site.
The president is re-selling his privatized healthcare plan (which specifically
excluded abortion) as a feminist coup in hopes he can lure women back
into the fold, after they narrowly went for the Republicans in the 2010
midterm election. You can read the Durham/López statement on the
president’s plan at www.VoteSocialism.com.
But what exactly has the president done for women and how much better is it
than what the Republican patriarchs offer?
If you are a working woman, you may remember that one of the first bills
Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. The act
gives victims of wage discrimination more time to file suits. That’s
helpful-as long as you can afford an attorney, your house isn’t underwater,
and you haven’t run out your unemployment. Reforms like this create the
legal means to fight discrimination but not the basis to win. In fact, Obama
has been a much better friend of the discriminators-the banks,
Wall Street, industrialists and union-busters-than of women workers.
If you are a young woman, you may be feeling vulnerable since the White
House overruled the Food and Drug Administration proposal to make
emergency contraception available without a prescription to under-age
If you are an undocumented immigrant, you are probably worried about
being separated from your U.S.-born children because the president gave
ICE $600 million to hire 1,500 more agents, among other things, and has
deported more people than G.W. Bush. His administration has deported
nearly half a million, many of them mothers, in the last year alone.
If you work for a well-heeled university, hospital or school operated by a
religious institution, Obama signed a deal that exempts your employer
from paying for insurance to cover your reproductive services. (Who is
imposing whose beliefs here? Is the government “oppressing” wealthy,
tax-exempt churches or are pastors and priests imposing their beliefs on
women? We think the latter.)
If you are a unionist or a public worker, you probably noticed that Obama
was completely invisible during the intense labor battles raging in
Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee-despite $200 million dollars
poured into his 2008 presidential campaign by the AFL-CIO. (On March
12, the AFL-CIO announced it would endorse the president again.)
If you are female and you care about free speech and the First
Amendment, Obama’s signing of H.R. 347, the misleadingly named
Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, and
the National Defense Authorization Act should be cause for deep
concern. H.R. 347, also known as the “Trespass Act,” makes protest of
any type a federal offense if it occurs in the presence of the Secret
Service, with penalties of one to 10 years in federal prison. The National
Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president on December 31, 2011,
authorizes indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and foreigners anywhere in
the world, without charge or trial, by the U.S. military.
Finally, if you are an Iraqi, Afghan, Palestinian, Caribbean or Latin
American woman, Obama’s four-year reign has not brought you and your
children peace or security. Rather it has meant more U.S. military bases,
more killing, more sophisticated methods of extermination, more arming
of your enemies, more fanning the flames of destruction.
President Obama, the Noble Peace Prize winner, has simply continued
the policies of G.W. Bush in a less bellicose and more charming, but none-
the-less imperialist, manner, by arming and embracing reactionary
regimes that repress their own people.
It is an illusion to think that any man or woman in Obama’s position is
going to rise above the desires of the capitalist class that rules this country.
The president of the United States, regardless of color or gender, is the
leader of the most privileged 1% on planet Earth. His or her job is to protect
the interests of this class.
At the same time, Obama is continually the target of vile attack by racists.
These character assassinations are abominable, and socialists condemn
them. At the same time, these assaults serve to mask the fact that Obama
does not actually represent the interests of the oppressed group to which
he belongs. Neither would another establishment president who happened
to be female, or Black, or another person of color. Racism and sexism are
key to keeping the working class divided and profits up, and are routinely
practiced by all the factions within the ruling class depending on their
usefulness at a particular time.
So what has President Obama-spokesperson for and defender of Wall
Street-done for women? Not enough to warrant an endorsement from
women voters. For that matter, neither does any of the Republican
candidates who range somewhere between “Father Knows Best” and
“Onward Christian Soldiers” on women’s issues.
Better to hang onto a sense of self-respect and register a protest at the
polls by voting socialist feminist. Write in Stephen Durham for president
and Christina López for vice president. You’ll be casting your ballot for the
greater good, rather than the lesser evil. The question is not what Obama
or Romney (or dare we contemplate Santorum?) has done for women, but
what women can do for themselves by standing together across lines of
nationality, immigration status, color, gender and disability to fight for
freedom and peace in our troubled world.