U.S. Politics. A different perspective

“It’s like being a HABS fan.”

By Julie Cadieux.

As The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette goes to press The United States will be voting for their next president. Last weeks’ column by Suzana Vukic, American’s War On Women, (see her article at the bottom) made some passionate and interesting points about how the Republicans have stirred up women’s rights issues. However, having lived in the U.S. for over a decade I have a slightly different perspective. I can see how to many Canadians it might seem as though American’s have allowed women’s rights to be eroded. But that’s because Canadians understand American politics, from their own experience, not an American’s.

Of course I am not defending any of the wrong and backwards remarks that some politicians have made over the last few months. Least of all Republican Senator, Todd Akin (Missouri) who, in case you needed a refresher, said in a televised interview: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) are really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” It’s no shock that as of this past weekend his opponent, Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill was ahead in the polls. But the bigger shock is that she only had about a 5 percentage point lead. How is it that this guy (Akin) was still even in the running you ask? Does this mean women don’t care and men agree with him? No, I don’t think so. Let me try to explain:

In the U.S. you are either a Republican (37%) or a Democrat (39%), for life! There is a small percentage of Americans (23%) who are undecided which includes the ‘liberal Republicans’ and ‘conservative Democrats’ who are considered swing voters because their voting patterns cannot be predicted. (Statistics from the PEW Research center, November 5th, 2012.)

For the lifers (76% of Americans), there is little objectivity. There will always be a reason, explanation or excuse that can be used to defend or forgive their beloved party. Need proof? How about the ads that have been running for Akin like this one “You don’t have to agree with everything he says, but you can be sure, in the Senate, Akin will vote for (Republican nominee Mitt) Romney’s policies.” I compare it to sports fans: the same way a Habs fan will always be a Habs fan.  As a fan you might get frustrated with a coach’s decisions or dislike a player, but you still believe in your team and will cheer them on no matter what. This is how U.S. politics is for millions of Americans and why some who might actually disagree and be completely disgusted with Akin, will still end up voting (Republican) for him anyway.

In Canada (and Quebec) there is not the same kind of passion and entertainment in our politics. We have more parties to choose from and the majority of us have no loyalties to one or the other. If we do bother voting at all, we choose the candidate or party we hate the least. We don’t trust or care enough to be faithful. To put it in American political terms, Canadians are mostly all undecided/swing voters.

The next and other very important factor which plays a huge role in U.S Politics and one which many of us here cannot truly relate to in the same way, is religion. There are so many Americans who are very conservative and deeply religious. Their beliefs and values come from their church and bible teachings and this is reflected in their politics and why a variety of women’s and gay rights are still hot button issues. Right or wrong this is why many Americans support candidates who mirror these values.

I am not defending or undermining U.S. politics or trying to say that Canada’s way of doing it is better or worse. I am just trying to explain it. I understand how from the Canadian perspective it might seem bizarre. The same way I imagine from an American perspective having a province that would have an elected party which is against English as its primary language, might seem bizarre to them!

Hmmmm.  I would love to hear your perspective on this: JulieLovesHome@gmail.com

The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – November 7th 2012 – Julie Cadieux

———

America’s war on women (By Suzana Vukic)

Throughout the course of the year, I’ve been so caught up with my projects that I haven’t found the time to address a very real, pervasive phenomenon that has taken root in our own backyard, so to speak: America’s war on women.

And just to clarify: this is very specifically a Republican war on woman. Americans are preparing for the impending presidential elections. Democrat and Republican leaders are facing off. And a very ugly and all-too real war on women has been taking shape for the longest time now.

Earlier this year, right-wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh launched a very personal attack against Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke, calling her a slut and a prostitute. Why? This was in response to Fluke’s speech to house Democrats in support of mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives.

It was no surprise that Limbaugh lost a lot of support — including sponsorship — as a result. And of course, Republican leaders wasted no time distancing themselves from this man and his remarks.

Yet the onslaught against women continues. And it very evidently comes from the Republican camp. Issues relating to women’s basic health, safety and well-being — ranging from rape, access to abortion and contraception, domestic violence — all of these have come under attack, one way or another.

It’s absolutely shocking to hear some of the ignorant remarks made by Republican leaders or leadership hopefuls regarding women’s issues. A good example that comes to mind is that of U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, who stated this past summer that a “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy, as “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” More recently, Indiana Republican Senate candidate said that pregnancy resulting from rape is “something that God intended.”

I’d like to see either of these “gentlemen” tell that to Bosnian victims of wartime rape, especially those who were impregnated by their rapists while being held in captivity and released only after their pregnancies were so far advanced that any possibility of a safe abortion was out of the question.

And while Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney makes every effort to distance himself from these PR fiascos, he has nonetheless proven time and again his willingness to undermine women’s rights.

It’s scary to think that in America — a country that’s supposed to represent a beacon of light and freedom for all nations — women’s rights are being eroded today, in 2012. Even more disconcerting is the thought that many politicians are out there actively seeking to pass laws that would curtail women’s rights. Why is this happening?

I’ve come across right-wing rhetoric that espouses and idealizes traditional values centred around the family. It’s a viewpoint that often derides feminist values, blaming the advances made by women for the breakdown of the traditional American family. The solution? Take away women’s rights, bit by bit. Make access to safe, reliable contraceptives and abortion nonexistent. Turn a blind eye to domestic violence. And keep on re-victimizing rape victims.

Do any of these options sound like a solution to you? That shouldn’t be the case. Because if you’re saying that family is essential to the strength of a society and a nation, then you must understand this: when you tear down a woman and her rights, you are tearing down family.

I thought that we women, here in North America at least, had come so far that our rights were practically enshrined in law, if not set in stone. Obviously, I was wrong. Why are we allowing our rights to be taken away from us? The assumption that we are liberated and emancipated — it’s obviously a false one if it’s so easy for (mostly) male politicians to come along and decide to do their best to make sure we end up barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Why are more women — and men — not doing more to oppose this?

I certainly hope that American women keep all of this in mind as they prepare to vote next week. It’s insane for any woman to vote for a politician or a party that would work actively to take away her rights. Let’s hope this sentiment is reflected in the outcome of next week’s American presidential elections. And let’s hope the results will help put an end to this misogynistic, right-wing rhetoric for once and for all.

6 thoughts on “U.S. Politics. A different perspective

  1. Dear Julie

    I read with great interest your column in the November 7/12 edition of the Gazette. Thank you for your valuable contribution.

    I, too, am a student of American history. In fact, I’ve been studying the politics of our fascinating and often somewhat puzzling southern neighbours since my teens. At the very least this ought to entitle me to voice an opinion about the current political scene. (My usual note to left-wing loons: kindly refrain from ad hominem smears and stick to the issues.)

    If America’s federal government were a family of four, the children would be juvenile delinquents, the mother would be accused of child endangerment and the father would be heading off to bankruptcy court: dysfunction writ large.

    Let’s take a closer look at the father. President Obama presides over an ailing economy that is flat broke. Indeed, for every dollar the treasury takes in from taxes, it borrows forty-one cents from creditors, mostly China and Japan. Yearly trillion-dollar deficits and a glorified ponzi scheme called Social Security and unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid programs are driving the economy into financial ruin. The kids are going to be wild-eyed with dismay when they get their inheritance.

    Obama has been proven to be a pathological liar who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. As Commander-in-Chief of the greatest nation in the history of the world, his first mandate has been an abject failure. For four years he has appealed to the basest instincts of his constituents, promising them hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stuff in exchange for their votes. The liberal media, historically the nation’s watchdog, has morphed into a suppliant lapdog cheering on his every move to aggrandize the state at the expense of individual freedoms. The prospect of four more years of an ever expanding, bloated bureaucracy and a government that is fast assuming all the characteristics of the failed European statist model is unsettling, to say the least.

    The United States has just emerged from the most divisive election in its history. A failed president with an indefensible record beat an opponent chiefly by demonizing and discrediting him. An ill-informed, distracted electorate bought into the dishonest narrative and awarded him a narrow victory. As I write this, the pundits are laboring over a post mortem in an attempt to explain the inexplicable. “Jobs, jobs, jobs, unlike Obama I know how to create jobs,” was the constant refrain from the Romney election campaign. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Even with a bloated, tax-happy government and a proliferating, exorbitantly expensive bureaucracy, record unemployment, drastically reduced take-home pay, the cost of living going through the roof, unsustainable deficits, unaffordable health care, exploding debt and record numbers on food stamps, the electorate couldn’t be swayed. Obviously, they had more than the economy on their minds.

    Far more important, however, in this scribe’s humble opinion, is the moral collapse that threatens the very foundations of this once great constitutional republic. Whereas only a few short decades ago the family was hailed as the incontrovertible nucleus of American society, it is under attack as never before. Christianity has been forced out of the public square. The homosexual agenda is being aggressively imposed on school curricula. State-funded abortion is now generally accepted as a form of contraception. The new secular progressivism scoffs at traditional values, deriding them as hopelessly outdated and old fashioned. Nobody is getting married any more except gays. Pornography is rampant, consuming 75% of all Internet usage. Recreational drugs are attaining mainstream acceptance. Our schools are graduating illiterates while teachers owe their primary allegiance to their unions. Governments everywhere are hopelessly corrupt, enriching the few who have wangled connections for themselves and stealing billions from waitresses, taxi drivers, construction workers and traveling salesmen. If this is the new societal norm, then traditional concepts of justice and fairness have been rendered meaningless.

    In your column you speak of the so-called War on Women that the Democrats accused the Republicans of waging. Obviously this was a sleazy campaign tactic targeting low-IQ voters who couldn’t tell the difference between avert and abort. That it was strikingly effective says a lot about the dumbing-down of the unwashed masses in the age of the Internet.

    You brought up the subject of abortion. Let’s talk about it. I know that in Canada it is almost unheard of to even mention the word abortion, let alone debate the subject, but just for the sake of conversation, let’s discuss it as sincere adults.

    As you know, there is no law governing abortion in Canada. None. Not a word. Incredibly, the father-to-be of an unborn infant could conceivably plunge a screwdriver into the skull of the emerging baby, scrambling his brain, and he would be considered to have committed no crime whatever. Our sophisticated, enlightened society has so much vested in its concern for “reproductive rights” that it cannot even bring itself to acknowledge that a vicious crime has taken place. So who will speak for the baby? I will. If not me, who, and if not now, when?

    I view abortion to be the deliberate taking of innocent life for the sake of social convenience. Science has evolved to the point where it is obvious that what used to be dismissed as merely a blob of undifferentiated tissue is in fact a new life. If society cannot protect the most defenseless of its own members, on what concept of human value do we base our most fundamental laws?

    At least Americans are not so blinded by conformity to political correctness that they are willing to engage in vigorous debate over the abortion issue. That’s what Senator Akin was doing. Unfortunately for him, one awkward, ill-chosen sentence blown up by a hostile liberal media proved to be his undoing. All he was trying to do was explain how important it was to embrace the sanctity of human life, from womb to grave. If he had omitted that one sentence, he likely would have prevailed over McCaskill and won a Senate seat for the GOP. So goes politics.

    As for the recent American elections, in the end Obama proved himself to be an empty suit with a teleprompter, a scheming little weasel in a grownup’s body. Hopefully his reign will end sooner than later by impeachment: For two weeks he lied to the American people about Benghazi. His crime is far worse than diddling an intern in the Oval Office or Watergate. At least no one died then.

    So, Julie, isn’t it fun to exchange perspectives? If we both strive for the truth, it’s a win-win, isn’t it?

    • WOW! Thank you for taking the time to write me such a detailed response!! And to answer your question; Yes! it is fun to exchange perspectives! Like I have said many times, I love getting feedback! The whole point of writing my column is to get people thinking and talking …it’s not about agreeing with me or stroking my ego -so once again, thank you very much!

      I will forward your email to the (Hudson Gazette) Editor -hopefully he will be able to get it in this week’s issue!

      Keep reading!

      Take care,
      Julie

  2. Your outlook on this is refreshing after a year full of political bashing that bombarded your peeps to the south ;)

  3. Great article. Americans are going forward with women’s and gay rights not backwards!!?!?!!? Thanks for pointing out how diff politics is in the U.S. compared to Canada’s without taking any sides, I for one am now done with all of this back and forth negativity. -Sam

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