December 2012

Not a mandate, but a message

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

The bloom is off the post-election rose.

Not two weeks after President Obama’s re-election, we had delusional whiners signing petitions to secede (or, as some fans spelled it, to “succeed”), and would-be president Mitt “Foot-in-Mouth” Romney complaining Obama won by wooing stupid, lazy, greedy people with freebies. Because why else would the non-country-club set come to the polls? If you didn’t vote for Mittens, you just want something for nothing, unlike his financial backers, who got nothing for millions.

We have a whole set of corporate fat cats playing “pick up my marbles and go home,” because they didn’t like the results of the election (see what happens when you give peasants the vote!?) — er, I mean, they are firing people because of the Affordable Care Act, because really, really, they don’t have a choice! Evil job-killing government!

We have the ever-impending fiscal cliff, because our representatives won’t get off their backsides and get to work, but instead prefer to fight like dogs in the name of ideological purity before passing inadequate stopgap measures.

We are further crippled in this regard by a parade of congressional invertebrates who for some reason believe they owe fealty to Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledges. Although, in a sign that may be encouraging, but is more likely the same sort of political expedience that induced them to sign in the first place, Republicans have begun backing away.

We still have Benghazi, the official line, the conspiracy-theory line, and, somewhere in the middle, the truth. And shouting over all of this was the media with their endless presentation of “Gen. David Petraeus: A Junior High Kind of Love Life — With Spies Unschooled in Basic Email Thrown In!”

The Nov. 6 election remains important for its messages, though: It is possible to get along to achieve the common good, as Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed, post-Sandy. You cannot cater to extremists and expect to take the White House. You have to remember that non-white, nonmale, non-rich people exist, and, as a New York Times columnist has skillfully noted, that America’s changing demographic is a reality, not a conspiracy.You have to remember that anointing Karl Rove as kingmaker doesn’t guarantee the crown to his pick. And that the money poured into this election by both sides, though positively obscene, wasn’t enough to squelch the will of the people.

And our representatives should have learned something when voters bounced not one, not two, but three anti-choice extremists.

Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin — gone. Looks like in Missouri, women and men alike have ways of “shutting that whole thing down” when they are faced with the prospect of being represented by an overt numskull. In addition to believing the female duty to reproduce holds sway even when she is put in a family way by force, according to news reports, Akin doesn’t think the federal government should issue student loans, or set a minimum wage. I guess if poor kids are able to go to college, they might actually be able to better themselves, and then who would Akin and his fans have to blame for society’s woes?

Richard Mourdock lost the Senate race in Indiana, in part because of his asinine assertions about “God’s will” and rape babies. To be fair, Mourdock never said that “God intended” for rape to happen. He said that if a child was conceived by rape, that was “God’s will.”

Indianans angry that the GOP lost a Senate seat because of Mourdock have only themselves to blame. Come primary time, they tossed Richard Lugar in favor of hardliner Mourdock. Lugar’s sin: too moderate — meaning he looked beyond the party line and considered reality when making decisions in Senate. If that be sin unpardonable, the GOP is paying the price. It remains to be seen whether women will. Democratic victor Joe Donnelly is also anti-choice. Apparently, though, he’s less stupid about it.

Rep. Joe Walsh, who doesn’t believe an abortion is ever necessary to save a woman’s life, lost to war hero Tammy Duckworth — after attempts to paint her as a one-trick pony who was capitalizing on her service in the military. Apparently, losing both legs in war isn’t enough to make her a “true hero.” As for women with life-threatening pregnancies, medical advancements are so great that an abortion is never necessary. Just ask science king Walsh.

Try telling that to Savita Halappavanar. It is true she lived in Ireland, not America. It is also true that you can’t tell her anything: She’s dead.

Halappavanar was miscarrying in agony when she came into an Irish hospital in No vember. She and her husband repeatedly requested an abortion, though they desperately had wanted the baby. According to published reports, they were told that “this is a Catholic country” and doctors were going to wait until there was no longer a fetal heartbeat, a decision apparently based on Irish law.

This woman lost her life to extremism. She was a competent adult, making a rational decision, but was ignored by people who probably sleep just fine at night under the belief that they “respect life.”

This is why we need to watch whom we elect; why women’s rights are never to be treated as ancillary issues; why, frankly, the right to choose matters. Women are people in their own right; they are competent to make decisions about their own bodies.

States in our own Union are straying perilously close to yanking a woman’s right to decide, risking more Savita Halappavanars. Ohio in November was again pushing a “fetal heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortion upon detection of a heartbeat. The bill foundered last year, not because of any recognition that a woman is a person in her own right or — bluntly — because her rights always outweigh those of the fetus. It stalled because Ohio Right to Life thought it wouldn’t withstand legal challenge.

The right to control your own destiny is being chipped away by people who do not walk in your shoes but believe they know best.

Yes, the message of Election Day 2012 is important. The question is whether anyone is really listening.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is a journalist in Montrose, Colo.