Taylor Hart-McGonigle, Op-Ed contributor
This upcoming election definitely weighs heavily on the minds of many Americans. After all, whoever wins the election will unquestionably influence the direction of our country in a significant way. But, November 6, 2012 will be even more special for me because that will be the day that I participate in my first election.
As much as I hate to be sectioned off into a political block, I find myself making a large exception in this election; I am undoubtedly part of the “women’s vote.”
The GOP’s political platform this year brings up issues that women’s rights activists thought they had finished fighting for many years ago. Trying to implement a law outlawing abortion is not only a violation of patient autonomy but also is incredibly dangerous. When abortions were previously outlawed, were abortions non-existent? Absolutely not. Desperate women were forced to seek treatment from illicit doctors, some of whom performed abortions in inhumane ways, causing harm to the mother. Taking the law a step further to also outlaw abortions in cases of rape and incest is truly cruel. Forcing victims of rape to carry around their rapist’s child is despicable. It does not protect the victim, who should be a chief priority.
Mitt Romney and other Republicans have said that the economy is what women care about most in this election. He’s right. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was written to end the discrimination against women in the work place. On average, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn; the same job, the same credentials, the same work, but different pay. It’s blatant gender discrimination, and it is truly incredible that this topic could still even be in debate. Having equal pay for equal work does not harm the economy regardless of what the opposition thinks. If we do not try to undermine these sexist attitudes now, we are harming the future for our children. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, voted against the Fair Pay Act.
As a senior applying to colleges, I could not be more concerned with my education, educational debt and job opportunities post-college. I want to enter the work force in a better, more productive economy. Obama has taken steps to halt the increase of unemployment. Subsequently, he tried to implement policies to create more jobs. If Obama had agreed with Romney back in 2008 when the Federal Government was considering bailing out the American Auto industry, more than a million jobs would be lost. In fact, General Motors has reported record high profits by the billions since the bailout creating even more jobs. Obama’s job record of 4.5 million new jobs over the past four years demonstrates that his policies are working. And, if Congress had passed his jobs bill, American citizens would have seen an even larger increase in jobs and a higher decrease in unemployment. During his presidency, Obama has cut taxes by 25 percent for domestic manufacturers while trying to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, further investing in our country’s economic future.
However, it is important to note that there are many job openings currently in the United States. Simultaneously, there is only a small pool of people qualified to perform these jobs. That fact seems so strange to many people given just how often politicians and the media alike stress our high unemployment rate.
The problem is simple. Not enough people are educated well enough to take on these jobs. It is not enough to try to bring manufacturing back on U.S. soil to combat unemployment. Certainly that is an important part of it, but by battling domestic unemployment from multiple sides, it would make our economy more stable and prosperous. But, in order to succeed in this, we must invest in education. Obama has made efforts to make education affordable for average Americans while Mitt Romney, speaking in Virginia, said that even though he believes that the United States is “the land of opportunity for every single person,” he also believes that students should only get “as much education as they can afford.”
That’s not the American dream. It puts higher education out of reach for many families. Higher education affordability is not just the right thing to do to for hard working Americans, but it is an economic necessity. And while the Romney-Ryan ticket wishes to slash educational budgets to reduce the deficit, putting our economic future in danger, Barack Obama understands the challenges of paying for higher education and managing the subsequent debt that follows. Obama puts heavy importance on both education and an affordable education; he understands and recognizes that education is an economic necessity to make the United States the most competitive country and top economic superpower in the world.
In order to make the United States number one, we must defend ourselves and protect our national interests abroad while simultaneously preserving our planet for future generation. The environment is no longer simply a question regarding melting ice caps or warmer summers. We have concerned ourselves very intimately in the Middle East because we want oil, and they have it. It is our concern that has led us to pay dictators and support governments that are neither democratic nor respectfully kind to their constituents. This meddling is the reason behind anti-U.S. sentiments abroad, from the September 11 attacks to the current anti-U.S. protest spanning over 20 countries. Not only would decreasing our dependence on oil help us preserve the environment, but it would also help end our deep military and political involvement in foreign countries, which in turn would decrease our military spending and encourage deficit reduction.
Obama is the only candidate who places a priority on finding new forms of energy. Under his presidency, as a country we’ve doubled the amount of energy we get from solar power and wind energy. Not putting the environment as a priority is not only damaging to our planet but is also incredibly risky for international security. Additionally, it creates new domestic industry which introduces a whole new category of jobs in the United States. With Mitt Romney’s plan, those jobs and advances will be lost.
Mitt Romney and the GOP’s persuasive rhetoric only works if Americans forget about 2000-2008. The Bush years brought about policies that destroyed the United States, especially economically. However, those are the exact policies that the Romney-Ryan ticket wishes to shove on our amazing nation again. We’ve already come so far with Obama’s policies in the past four years. The strides that he was able to make in four years to clean up after George W. Bush’s eight years are incredible. As a nation, we cannot afford to stop our progress and return to the failed policies of the past.
Editor’s Note: This article is printed alongside Dante Bucci’s 2012 Presidential Election: A Loyal Conservative’s Stance in the WordsWorth print edition.