Republicans spent 2012 trying endlessly to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides health services like cancer screenings to women in need. The GOP’s efforts were also focused on finding ways to evade laws which prevented employers from denying insurance coverage for birth control based on a belief that women’s reproductive rights are choice only men could possibly understand.
In 2011 and early 2012, the Republican primary debates appeared across the country the country as a traveling circus of candidates featuring a homophobe (Rick Santorum) who believes states have the right to outlaw birth control, an ironic misogynist (Michelle Bachmann) and cowboy (Rick Perry) who hope to ban abortions in all circumstances including rape and incest.
Surprisingly, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who failed to remove himself from this train wreck of sexism, homophobia, and intolerance toward minorities, lost the presidential election and the vote among these mentioned interests which proved well sufficient to send Barack Obama to a second term.
Republicans didn’t just lose the Presidential race. A “war on women”, which many conservatives simply refuted as an imaginary slogan invented by Barack Obama or the liberal media or perhaps even science to undermine their campaign progress, grabbed the attention of voters across the country.
Phrases like “medically unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasound” and “legitimate rape” unexpectedly caught the attention of more than just the women living in Virginia and Indiana.
Republican hopeful Todd Akin, who made his opposition the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act known because he disagreed with the notion that governments can tell people what to do, and stated women couldn’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape”, lost his campaign for the U.S. Senate to Claire McCaskill (D-MO); a woman he had previously described as not “ladylike.”
In an October debate with Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Republican candidate Richard Mourdock announced he was against abortions even for rape because he felt, even as horrible as rape is, “that it is something that God intended to happen.” Mourdock lost his election bid and became a punch line to entertain Stephen Colbert’s audience, rather than the Senate’s.
Wisconsin state Rep. Roger Rivard (R-Rice Lake) shared his father’s wisdom during his 2012 campaign for reelection, “'Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.'" Kind of like how last night it was a campaign, and the next morning it’s a disaster. He lost to democrat Stephen Smith.
Despite losing the Electoral College, the popular vote, eight-of-nine swing states, the vote among women, voters under 30, and also among minorities, as well as failing to capture or hold ground in the Senate or House of Representatives; Republicans have only splintered into two groups as a party. One half rationally feels they must modernize in the wake of their defeat, the other faction feels victory slipped away because Governor Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough.
Enough? Where do you go from “war on women”? Apocalypse? Conservatives argued during the contraception debate last spring if woman really wanted contraception, they could pay for it themselves without hurting religious people’s feelings. Or . . . they could vote for a president who’d defend basic rights.
While the election season was grueling and filled disparaging comments, the results are optimistic. The Senate now has a record number of female representatives, gay marriage was legally recognized in two additional states, and basic healthcare rights seems temporarily safe for those who depend on aid from their insurance.
And, come the 2016 elections, American citizens might not have to sustain the political attrition dealt by Super Pac’s this year, and finally be able to release complaints about only having a two party system – because there might only be one left.