People’s Issues

That’s a term you don’t hear too often, not with two women being considered viable choices for the presidency. We do seem interested in women’s issues, but truly there’s no real difference between men’s and women’s concerns—the difference lies in the approach.

I only mention this because Carly Fiorina has suddenly become the darling of the American public, mainly because she was able to put Donald Trump in his place. First off, he has no place; and second, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to outshine a tantrum-throwing child—just being present is generally enough. So before you start hoisting the Carly banners over your roof, consider these facts:

First, her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was at best, controversial and at worst disastrous. In 2005 H-P stocks fell in value by half and 30,000 workers received pink slips. This occurred several years before the Wall Street meltdown in 2008. Her claim that the business doubled is true—true because H-P acquired Compaq. Ms. Fiorina was subsequently fired.

Second, and more damning (good people do sometimes get fired) is this war against Planned Parenthood. Whatever your moral convictions may be, she lied in the debate, fabricating a story about a video she dared us to watch. That’s an easy dare—the video doesn’t exist. It never existed. The one that does exist simply shows a stillborn baby; and as tragic as that may be, it is not by any definition an abortion. Placing blame on an agency for what may very well have been a family’s heartbreak shows a callous desperation. Yep, politicians lie. I get that. But this lie seems particularly cynical.

Abortion is not a woman’s issue—it’s a Constitutional right. And if it weren’t, it still wouldn’t be a woman’s issue: it’s a decision very often arrived at by a woman and her partner; in some cases a young girl and her parents. And as Ms. Fiorina undoubtedly knows, people of her social standing will continue to find abortions and all manner of fine health care when they need them. The poor, as usual, will not. If you want to call her stance the moral high ground, fine; but I’ll call it what it is: another skirmish in the war against Americans who have the least.

Still looking for a women’s issue? How about pay inequity? Here’s what Ms. Fiorina said about that last year in an interview:

“I think in some cases we just have to take on the facts. There are plenty of laws in place today that a woman can look to if she’s truly discriminated against at work, where she’s actually earning less for the same job as her male counterpart. So the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — these are tokens. They’re gestures. They don’t truly help women advance.”

Sound familiar? She said the same thing in Wednesday’s debate when asked about putting a woman on U.S. currency—it’s just a gesture. But considering we’re one of those civilized nations never to have elected a woman president (like Qatar and North Korea) maybe a gesture here and there would be acceptable. It’s certainly true that passing a law doesn’t change hearts and minds—the Civil Rights Act is fifty-one years old and we’re still fighting battles, but sometimes passing a law can be a good first step.

If you support Carly Fiorina because you’re a conservative Republican or a Christian conservative and she represents your beliefs, then fine. But if you’re a progressive interested in reducing wealth inequality and giving poor people the same health care opportunities as the rich, then putting Donald Trump in his place for calling her ugly should not be enough to earn your vote.

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