By Sarah Jost
Last night’s second presidential debate and third debate of the election season was undoubtedly the best and most informative thus far. The town hall format and limited but expert moderation by Candy Crowley ensured that a variety of important topics were addressed in a timely and efficient manner.
President Obama was polite, professional, and passionate in his answers. He has been steadfast in his beliefs and promises throughout his 2008 campaign, presidency, and current campaign, and discussed his views and goals practically and eloquently. Governor Romney, on the other hand, seemed to think he was above following the rules of the debate’s format, often talking for more than his allotted time and refusing to stop when the debate’s moderator requested that he do so. He frequently interrupted both the moderator and President Obama and as result came across a rude and entitled.
However, it is fundamental flaw of this election season’s post-debate discussions that they have focused more on the candidates’ behaviors than their words. Attention must be given to what is being said, not just how it is being said. And last night, Governor Romney said some very scary things.
When it comes to America’s future, Governor Romney has repeatedly promised energy independence. Last night, he reiterated that this would be accomplished through ‘more drilling,’ ‘bring[ing] that pipeline from Canada’, nuclear energy, and coal. These measure would be a mere band-aid on an issue of extreme long-term importance. Continuing to mine unrenewable resources and focusing on unsustainable means of energy will deplete the United States’ natural resources, leave future generations bankrupt of both energy and natural heritage, and place the United States behind nearly all other developed nations in sustainable energy solutions.
While the world is moving increasingly away from oil, coal, and nuclear energy, Governor Romney wants the United States to stay stuck in a past that simply can’t sustain the country’s energy consumption. His solutions are embarrassingly shortsighted and will make us yet again the laughing stock of the international community.
Governor Romney’s proposed measures are also dangerous. Coal accounts for 43% of global carbon emissions and emits more carbon per unit of energy than oil, and 80% more than natural gas. The pollution caused by coal is extremely hazardous to human and animal health and mountain top coal removal is destroying both America’s natural beauty and local communities. The European Union is voting on labeling tar sands oil (as would be mined for the Keystone XL Pipeline Romney touts) a dirtier form of energy and making it subject to penalties if imported.
Governor Romney also made it clear that if he were elected, American energy policy wouldn’t be the only thing stuck in the past. When asked about the fact that women in the United States still earn less money doing the same jobs as men, Governor Romney talked about how he let a woman on his staff leave work early to go home and make dinner for her children, seeming to imply that special accommodations need to be made for women in the workforce. Firstly, women do not want or need special accommodations, just fair and equal pay. Secondly, Governor Romney’s comment planted a dangerous seed in the minds of business owners that hiring women would necessitate adjusting work hours to suit their duties at home. Thirdly, the notion that Governor Romney would be concerned about the family life of a female staff member and not the family lives of his male staff members is not only sexist but distinctly incongruous from someone who claims to be a family man.
Women already knew that Governor Romney would defund Planned Parenthood, a vital source of health care visited by 3 million Americans a year. For women, Planned Parenthood offers breast cancer screenings, pelvic exams, pap tests, HPV tests, and resources and treatments for female infertility, menopause, urinary tract infections, menstruation, ovarian cancer, yeast infections, vaginitis, and cervical cancer. For men, Planned Parenthood provides checkups for reproductive or sexual health problems, screenings for colon, testicular, and prostate cancers, male infertility, and erectile dysfunction, testing/exams and treatment for jock itch, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, urinary tract infections, and routine physicals. Governor Romney says that he will defund Planned Parenthood because some of their locations provide abortion services, which in reality account for only 3% of the services they provide.
It is now clear just how out of touch Governor Romney is not only about women’s health, but women in the workplace. It is unfathomable that equal pay for women is an issue in the 2012 presidential election, and despicable that Governor Romney would, in that context, discuss women’s home life.
As with his entire campaign, Governor Romney’s theme last night was regression. In nearly every area imaginable he would either stagnate or regress the United States. In the context of the ever-changing world, that is something the United States simply cannot afford.