What I take away from the Biden-Ryan debate last night is this: Team Obama is willing to stand up for women and to make their position unequivocally clear. Moreover, tested time and again, they stand by it.
What you get from Team Romney is all over the place. Romney is busy clarifying clarifications, Tuesday saying he knows of no abortion legislation that is part of his agenda, and on Wednesday announcing that he will defund Planned Parenthood.
Ryan, for his part, when asked by moderator Martha Raddatz, “I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?”
“We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination.”
Unelected judge? We are not talking about unelected judges making decisions. We are talking about women making decisions. About their own bodies. About their own health.
Compare and contrast that again with what Biden said:
“I do not believe that — that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view.”
Team Obama wants to leave women in control of their bodies. Team Romney wants to leave elected representatives in control of women’s bodies.
Romney can dance all over the spectrum trying to act like a sane, moderate candidate, but he has sold his soul to America’s religious extremists on the issue of abortion and contraception.
What Americans need to remember is that in Team Romney we have a conservative Mormon and a conservative Catholic allied to conservative Protestants, none of whom are much interested in what the U.S. Constitution says about anything.
Once upon a time, America was a safe haven for those who did not want to be told how to live their lives according to the dictates of one religion or another. That time is rapidly passing. The forces of theocracy have massed for one last push.
Through some twists and turns in the electoral process (and a whole whompin’ lot of money) they have ended up with a Mormon of all things as their flag waver and they have more or less enthusiastically lined up behind him.
Any woman expecting a fair shake out of this unholy alliance isn’t paying attention.
At the debate, Ryan did an excellent job of avoiding direct answers to questions, but on the abortion issue, he slipped up:
I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life.
He claims, “Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don’t agree with me on this.”
Now Ryan’s claim about giving people a chance in life is pure bullshit. Even the Jesuits recognize this and they’re Catholic Dammit.
And as for respect, no, he really doesn’t. He expects people who disagree with him to live their lives according to his religious doctrines, no matter what religion they may belong to; no matter what the dictates of their own system of belief tells them is right where abortion and contraception are concerned.
Biden also says his religion is important to him. But he recognizes that it is his religion; not yours and not mine:
With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide (doctrine ?). Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.
And this is the point Ryan fails to understand. This is the point the Religious Right as a whole fails to understand. We don’t all hold the same religious beliefs. And it is the GOP that has made this fight about religion, calming it has nothing to do with women’s health (remember why Sandra Fluke was excluded from the discussion about her own vagina).
If this is, as the Republicans insist, a religious issue, and Ryan is a Catholic, why don’t we just invite the Pope in to make a ruling on these matters? Well, because the Constitution forbids it. We don’t have state sponsored religion here in this country. It’s forbidden.
And that goes for any religion. The Right wants to defeat Sharia Law but they want to put in its place an almost identical law code, Mosaic Law. Neither law code is women-friendly. Let’s face it. Bronze Age Palestine was not a time for feminism and neither was Arabia in the early Middle Ages.
But Romney and Ryan are insisting that our laws should be based on their religious beliefs, despite the First Amendment’s prohibition on state-sponsored religion.
Ryan sings the persecution song the hypocritical aberrochristians love so well . He claimed last night, “They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion.”
But nobody is telling Ryan that he can’t let his religion inform his choices. All we are telling him is that his religion cannot inform our choices.
The people threatening our freedom of religion are named Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Joe Biden gets it. Barack Obama gets it, as we saw from the evolution of his position on marriage equality. But Romney and Ryan don’t get it. Conservatives can’t unbend their minds. They can’t haul them out of the past and from thoughts of how things “have always been.”
It’s time to shed the Bronze age status quo. As President Obama said, we’ve got to go forward. We can’t go back.
But that is exactly what Team Romney wants and it is exactly what Paul Ryan supported at the debate last night. Not only will all forward momentum cease immediately, but we will all take three steps back for every step we took forward, until women are silent and obedient and pregnant when their men want them to be. As Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said: “Women simply can’t trust (Romney).”
Know your role, ladies. The Sky Father’s holy men are pissed, and you know by now that no good ever comes of that.
Photo from Time Swampland