Now that our dear friend and punching bag, Rick Santorum, has dropped out of the GOP primary the general election is in full swing. Well, Newt Gingrich may not think so, but he also wants to build a moon base, so I think we can continue to write him off until November.
With the general election comes the tried and true practice of mudslinging, and it seems the first volley will have to do with women. Specifically what has been called the “War on Women,” and each candidate is trying to pin it on the other.
As many of you have probably guessed at some point, women make up about half of this country’s population — the ratio is actually 93 men for every 100 women according to the most recent census data. As such it makes sense that both sides would want to woo the female vote while taking it away from the opposing side.
You could say the shot heard around the world in this “War on Women” was fired last week when democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.” Rosen has since apologized for the remark with the usual tepid enthusiasm of a political figure scorned.
Ann later defended herself by citing raising her five children as a job. Far be it from me to argue with that. However, her husband Mitt seems to be going in the opposite direction. In an effort to blame rising poverty among women on President Obama, Romney said he would like to require women with children who draw welfare benefits to work.
For those keeping track, and I assure you every pundit on TV is, it would appear as though both sides have made solid attacks against their rivals. The way I see it though, both sides have jumped on this bandwagon to avoid talking about other pressing issues.
Firstly, the rash attack of the strategist barely affiliated with the Obama camp, Hilary Rosen, does not constitute a full on offensive by the Democrats concerning women’s rights. While they would be wise to bring such issues up, I believe Obama has bigger fish to fry, like oh say, the economy.
Second, Romney’s hackneyed attempt at returning fire is just plain wrong. While poverty among women has grown, it can hardly be attributed to one factor. Also, Romney implies that women who draw welfare will not try to work if they are not required to.
The welfare he is referring to comes from a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — or TANF. The operative term in that title is “temporary.” TANF funds can only be received in two-year periods for a total of five years. There is a mandatory one-year break in between periods of aid.
I highly doubt that women who receive TANF funds do not want to work. And even if they do not want to work while on TANF, it will only be five years. Five years of (hopefully) quality care for their children that may just be the determining factor in whether or not the next generation ends up in the exact same place.
I believe that women’s rights is one of the most important issues we still face today. But this petty arguing about the sweat of Ann Romney’s brow is distracting from other important issues like the economy and foreign policy, both of which affect women and men. If either camp wants to get the female vote, they should stop treating them like a minority to be battled over and realize that other issues affect all of us.