President Obama and his feisty competitor, Mitt Romney squared off again last night. They pecked and clawed their way over key issues including immigration, energy independence, the tax code, gun control, and the economy, to name a few. As they debated whose policies would be better for our country, they went at each other like two roosters in a ring. Candy Crowley, (playground moderator or referee?) had to crawl her way between the two to keep them on point and off each other. The best way to describe it? Yep, a cockfight…pun intended (apologies to those with tender sensibilities).
However, as these two blusterers talked over and under each other, it became increasingly clear we do have a real choice here. Romney may have some good ideas when it comes to tax code (yep, let’s simplify it) and he may think he knows something about balancing a budget (although the non-partisan Office of Budget Management argues his recommendations wouldn’t balance it), when it comes to understanding the needs of women in the workplace, the clear winner is our president.
Obama recalled his single mother who, while raising him and his sister, went back to school and concurrently worked hard to support her family. He mentioned his grandmother, the secretary who hit a glass ceiling. And we know he personally understands the challenges of having two working parents as his wife was the primary breadwinner before Obama became president. This man gets it.
Romney? Shockingly out of touch is the only way to describe his words last night.
“I had a chance to pull together a cabinet and the applicants were all men…and I said, ‘gosh, can’t we find some women who are qualified?’ “ Well, Mitt, I guess not. There couldn’t possibly have been one single woman who was qualified to do the job. But we have binder full of men who are qualified. Oh wait, Romney has a binder full of women too! Phew.
Pause a minute. Let’s think this through. Is he saying his very own advisors couldn’t find a single woman to recommend? In this day and age, what idiot group of political advisors would ever offer up a cabinet filled exclusively with men? Wouldn’t it be obvious that politically that would be a fiasco? Which leads me to wonder, who does he surround himself with? White men who got lost in a 1950s time warp? And, do you think there was a man of color in that original group of “qualified” applicants. Oh, let’s not even go there.
Then, the man who would be president said, “If you are going to have women in the workforce, then sometimes you need to be more flexible.” Really Mr. Romney did you mean to stay that? IF?! According to the US Department of Labor, Women make up 47% of the workforce. 40% of us earn more than our husbands. This isn’t a matter of if or even when. We are already here and your economy needs us.
And then there was that word, “SOMETIMES”? We have children to raise, parents to care for, homes to manage, all of this in addition to being an essential component of our family’s financial stability. We don’t need flexibility SOMETIMES, we need it always.
And by the way, creating workplaces that offer flexibility for these myriad responsibilities shouldn’t just be considered making accommodations for women.Gosh, last time I checked my husband has children too. He also has parents he needs to support and a large pile of laundry that needs to be folded. Apparently in Rmoney’s world, this all gets done by someone else. But back in the real world, the men I know need flexibility too.
When Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act in 2009,
it was an important step towards rectifying the gross inequities that women face in the workplace. As of 2011, women across their careers still make only $.77 per $1.00 made by men. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “The wage gap occurs at all education levels, after work experience is taken into account, and it gets worse as women’s careers progress.”
Do you think Mitt would have signed that bill into law? I don’t. But at least he has binders full of women if he ever needs to put one on a cabinet.
Ladies, when it comes to selecting our next president, the choice is clear. As Obama said last night, “This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, a middle-class issue and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.”