Women's vote battle, America 2012

Is women’s vote the key to win this election? Probably yes. If you look at numbers, in 2008 women voters were more than male ones (60%), so women voters could be crucial in the swinging states and also be an indicator of what american society is becoming. Another proof of this fact is how much of the presidential race debate was dedicated to gender issues. According to the Gallup research institute, in this electoral campaign topics like abortion or equal rights – generally referred to as feminists issues – were as preminent as the economy or the unemployment rate. The Washington Post, as well, dedicated an entire section to Women and the 2012 campaign.

As a matter of fact, this attention to gender issues was preminent in the whole electoral campaign process.

This is not new in the american politics. Yet in the 90’s the Clinton administration had to address most of the issues developed by the feminists movements in the ‘70s in his political agenda. Wage and top positions equality, both in public and private companies, a better health care for women and their relatives and children, are no longer a feminist cause, they define the different policies in the political race. Both democrats and republicans aknowledge that they have to address this issues in their platforms to win not only women’s vote in this election but to present their own idea of the american way of life.

This focus on gender issues has not delivered more rights – nor has it done more quickly – to women. It has rather delivered more radicalism in the debate. It’s precisely during this time frame that most radical movements took place: Prolife, National Right to Life, etc. They were opposed to the democratic campaign which aimed to extend healthcare protection to birth control methods and to abortion. These rights would have been concrete only thanks to more affordable health care plans. And that’s why the speech by women activist Sandra Fluke was such a hot topic in the electoral campaign: she was asking to preserve health care funds dedicated to these particular issues.

As in 2008, president Obama’s strategy is deeply focused on bringing more voters to the polls, expecially youngsters. And this is true also for women voters: this is a tv ad in which the popular 26 actress from Hbo tv show “Girls” tells about her first time…to vote, and her vote for Obama, indeed. There are also women stars supporting Obama’s campaign such as Eva Longoria (Desperate Houswives tv star) or Sarah Jessika Parker (Sex and the City). Finally there are women in politics: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelious. Very much different women if compared to the republican Michelle Bachmann, or former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who in the last weeks decided to support vice president candidate Paul Ryan’s campaign.

The democratic party has paid constant attention to demonstrate to which extent president Obama policies were focused on improving women’s lives (from childhood to oldness). You can actually play the interactive spot “The life of Giulia” and discover how Mitt Romney’s election would change that.

Mitt Romney’s campaign has liven up the blog “Women for Romney 2012”. But his campaign appears to be more involved on women clichés rather than women rights. Starting with the gaffe on Romney’s “binder full of women” (addressing some comments on his staff composed only by men) and proceeding with the debate on abortion and rape (some republicans felt the urgency to explain they are against abortion also after a rape). On these subjects Mitt Romney’s campaign doesn’t seem to have distanced itself from the 50’s idea of women: regular houswives that stay at home and are against abortion.

In the end it is fair to say that even if in the political debate – and in particular in the mainstream debate – clichés on women are there, and they are news, politics and legislation are the most important issues. They actually can change people’s life.

This is the case of president Obama’s healthcare reform: especially for women.

Starting in 2014, 15 million uninsured Americans will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage, among them 7 million women: young students, single mums who for the first time have new rights and new means for themselves and their children. And there are also the women who are getting a better healthcare plan than before.

This is crucial also for the “pre-existing conditions” issues. Prior to Obama healthcare reform pre-existing condition was to be pregnant while subscribing an healthcare insurance, to have suffered from domestic violence or rape. Just to give an exemple of the most outragious ones.

Now it is no longer possible to be refused an helathcare insurance for beeing a woman. This is a huge change in women’s lives both socially and economically.

This issues are also addressed in the spot “You don’t own me” from the democratic campaign. Numbers and analyses on these topics are provided by the National Women’s Law Center.

President Obama spent most of his political clout on the healthcare reform. This will be true also to win women’s votes and remain in office.

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