July 6 2012
Women need more than a speech
The Obama campaign’s “Women Vote 2012” summits, which kicked off July 1 in Denver, are being billed as an opportunity to “allow women … to hear directly from senior campaign officials and leaders about issues that are important to them … .”
Isn’t that what the endless campaign commercials are for: to hear directly from the campaign? Seems to me the president needs an opportunity to hear from us, not the other way around.
The campaign seems to believe it has an answer to “what women want” and will be focusing on “paycheck fairness, health care (including birth control), abortion rights, and education.” Perhaps its pollsters are right, and this will appeal to a narrow group of women who see themselves solely in terms of gender.
As for me, I see myself not just as a woman, but as an entrepreneur, a taxpayer, a neighbor in my community, a friend and family member, and an American. My special interest group is 311 million strong — it’s called my country.
I am one of countless Americans who want to hear less about “paycheck fairness” and more about paychecks. More than 14.5 percent of Americans are out of work when you include those who have stopped looking out of discouragement. These women and men are my friends and neighbors.
I want to tell the president that the private sector is not doing fine and that Washington needs to focus on ways to make it easier for companies to start up and hire more people.
That doesn’t mean we want government to pour money into the hands of a few favored industries and companies. Such failed stimulus spending initiatives and government bailouts have actually made our economic problems worse. It makes me mad when I hear about millions — even billions — given to some politically connected company that then wastes the money. That’s unfair to Americans regardless of gender.
We want to hear less about all the “free” benefits and services that the president is demanding insurance companies give to women, and more about why our insurance rates continue to climb. The president may think that all women swoon at the gift of free birth control, but many of us know that nothing is free. And in fact, the new costs and mandates being imposed from Washington have caused businesses to drop insurance plans for their employees and universities plans for students.
We want to hear less about abortion and more about why the president wants to raise taxes in a shaky economy. I’m not rich but I’m also not into class warfare. I know that high earners tend to be job creators, and we need more of them if we are going to get our economy growing again. Women want to know why the deficit is the highest in recent history and why the administration and Congress have failed to cut spending. Is $16 trillion of debt not big enough to warrant more than rhetoric and handwringing? The burden of debt will be passed on to the next generation and their children. That’s not the legacy I want to leave.
This glitzy campaign event advertised as a “summit” has its appeal. Who wouldn’t want to hear what actress Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives” fame thinks about public policy? That’s sure to be enlightening. Yet after the props are put away, the microphone is off, and the president has stopped talking to women about women’s issues, and take some time to listen to women about issues that affect all of us, male or female. A summit, after all, implies a meeting of the minds and communication that goes both ways. A summit is more than telling people what you think they want to hear.
Krista Kafer is the director of the Colorado’s Future Project, an initiative of the Independent Women’s Forum.