In tough economic times, the Presidential election is practically handed to the other party. What happened this time? I think women made the difference.
Woman make up the majority of voters in this country, so it's always a mistake to alienate them.
First of all, a Republican made a major gaffe: Republican representative Todd Akin used the unfortunate term "legitimate rape," and said that women have a biological reaction to rape that makes rape victims unlikely to get pregnant.
And Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (another Republican) added the final touch by saying said that pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God's plan, that they were "intended to happen."
These statements were repellent to women, but what most disturbs me is that both candidates obviously flunked sixth grade biology class. Someone with this little grasp on scientific knowledge is not qualified to represent anybody, let alone vote in congress on the major issues facing us now, many of which have to do with scientific concepts like climate change.
Also, Todd Akin and Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan once teamed up to try to pass a law stating that a fertilized eggs should be considered to be a human being. Several states have tried to pass similar laws (despite the fact that they are unconstitutional), which would outlaw not only abortion, but many types of birth control pill as well.
And there is an unforeseen "slippery slope" that goes along with a law like this: A woman who has a miscarriage could be arrested for manslaughter if she was shown to have done things that may have caused it, such a drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or even horseback riding. These days, pregnant women are cautioned not to do any of these things (and more), but there are probably still women who don't listen, and believe me, it would only be a matter of time before some pro-life legislator in some Southern state tried to make a name for himself by doing something like this.
Another reason that women voters stayed away from the Republican party was that Ryan went on the record saying that he was for cuts to social security and Medicare, maybe even changing Medicare to a "voucher system." Women are often the ones who take care of aging parents, and they could imagine having to make the terrible choice between putting their kids through college and taking care of elderly relatives.
While railing against the fact that too much of our national budget is being spent on the these types of "entitlements," Republicans seemed oblivious of the fact that, if you draw up your monthly budget as a "pie," the "slices" in that pie don't always stay the same--they vary according to your needs. In other words, if you're paying that college tuition, that slice gets bigger, then when your kids leave home and get a job, it shrinks down to almost nothing, and since the large number of baby boomers born after World War II are now getting old, social security and Medicare are bound to take up more of our budget.
I think that the Republican emphasis on immigration reform was another nail in their female coffin this year--one that not many people noticed--because women are the ones who work most closely with maids and gardeners, many of whom are from Mexico, and we now how hard these people work, what strivers they are.
Last of all, women are so often the referees among family members, showing siblings and in-laws how to compromise. There is a wonderful Jewish phrase: "shalom bayit," which means "peace in the house," and if we can do it in our own homes, we can't figure out why the Republicans in the House can't bend a little more too.
It was their election to win, but they lost it, and I think this was largely due to women. And this doesn't mean I'm a happy Democrat or a disappointed Republican. I'm just illustrating what happened. My own political preferences I'll keep to myself.