The Good And The Bad Of The Midterm Elections


The bad and the good results from last week’s election. Anti-choicers didn’t do as well as hoped, but some anti-choice politicians did win. Also, Michelle Cove talks about the new world of single women in their 30s.

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Links in this episode:

Seeking Happily Ever After

Anti-choicers get even sleazier, though it’s hard to believe

Pat Toomey wants to put doctors in jail

Rubio’s abortion dishonesty

Prop 62 defeated

Lemonade out of lemons

Fiorina used to play pro-choice-seeming on the trail

The bullying is because of the homophobia

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’m going to overload you with an election recap, to get it out of the way so we can move on to covering issues that aren’t the election.  Don’t worry, there’s good news with the bad! Also, an interview with Michelle Cove about her new documentary and book on single women.

This is a bit out of date, but not by much and well worth checking out.  Grit TV did an investigation in deceptive anti-choice practices aimed at using choice as a wedge issue on the left.

  • grit tv *

Check out the whole thing!

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So, an election happened.  And while I’m sad to see such gains for anti-choice candidates, I must admit in many ways I’m relieved.  I’m sleeping more.  Eating better. Having a little more mental space to live life instead  of think about a million different campaigns?  It’s good. 

But I did spend many weeks obsessing over the campaigns, so that I could bring you this. A short round-up in two parts over how reproductive rights and feminism fared this season.  And what we can look forward to in the future. For this first part, we’ll take a look at where reproductive rights took a hit.  And, to end on a happier note, the second section will be where things broke the right way. But first, the bad news.

There were a lot of prominent hard line anti-choicers running this election.  A lot of them, as I predicted at RH Reality Check, lost.  But one big one won his election. 

  • bad 1 *

Leaving the rape thing aside, I have to point out that Rand Paul, on his campaign website, expressed support for personhood laws that would be used to challenge the legality of birth control pills and emergency contraception, should those laws ever be passed.  So his faux concern about responsibility is just that. People wouldn’t be able to take the responsibility he claims he wants them to under the legal regime he supports. 

In another squeaker of a race in Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey beat out Democrat Joe Sestak 51-49.  Toomey is on the record, repeatedly, for being virulently anti-choice.

  • bad 2 *

A lot of antis won’t answer that question, so kudos to Toomey for at least admitting it.  But Chris Matthews dropped the ball.  Anti-choice politicians need to be asked if they’d put women in prison, not doctors.  That’s where the real hedging begins.  Doctors who provide abortions are relatively rare, but 1 in 3 American women will get an abortion in her lifetime.

In Florida, rabid anti-choice candidate Marco Rubio also won a Senate seat.

  • bad 3 *

On top of being anti-choice, Rubio is aggressively dishonest about reproductive rights. During the campaign, he repeatedly and falsely claimed that Republican governor Charlie Crist had somehow “cleared the way” for taxpayer-funded abortions by vetoing a bill that would prevent women from obtaining health insurance that covered abortion.  Even though federal law disallows women to use federal subsidies to pay for abortion coverage, Rubio was not deterred from claiming that Crist somehow magicked federal funds for abortion into being.  I have very little doubt that this lie helped Rubio win in an election that was hard fought on culture war issues.

Woof, that’s enough of the bad news.  When I come back after the interview, let’s talk about the good.

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insert interview

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Let’s start the good news off with the people that had no chance really of ever winning the battle..

  • good 1 *

Yep, the nutbars behind Prop 62 in Colorado, which would grant a fertilized eggs full human rights, certainly more than they’d allow a woman carrying it.  The law wouldn’t have only been a threat to abortion, but to birth control, IVF, and emergency medical treatment for pregnant women.  Similar laws in  other countries often result in the deaths of women denied life-saving medical treatment.  Voters shot down a similar ballot measure in 2008, and 72% of the voters voted against it this time.

A couple of weeks ago at RH Reality Check, I argued that extreme anti-choice positions might help Republicans win primaries, where hyper-conservative voters rule the day, but would hurt them tremendously at the polls.  And while Republicans saw massive gains on Tuesday, my prediction panned out in this one sense.  Besides Rand Paul, most candidates who got a lot of attention for their anti-choice views saw their popularity decline for it.  Let’s review, starting with Sharron Angle, who opposed abortion rights in the case of rape and incest.

  • good 2 *

That quote haunted her for the whole campaign, and was one of the many reasons the voters of Nevada decided she was too extreme, and dumped her to return Harry Reid back to office.

One candidate that almost surely lost strictly on this issue has got to be Ken Buck. 

  • good 3 *

It wasn’t just the abortion issue, but the way that it was memorably tied to a whole host of misogynist views. Buck mocked his primary opponent for being female, saying she didn’t deserve to hold office because she wore high heels.  A story got out where he refused to prosecute a rape in no small part because he believed, incorrectly, that the victim had had an abortion, and because she had consensual sex before with the rapist, who did admit to the rape. He supported and then waffled on Prop 62.  Unsurprisingly, he lost the female vote. In most races, the Republican got 5 or 6 percentage points more of the male vote than the female vote. In Colorado, it was 15 points.  Buck got 47% of the overall vote, but only 39% of the female vote.  If he’d reined in the misogyny, he would have won handily.

We’ve done Christine O’Donnell to death, so let’s talk about another case of someone whose harsh anti-choice views helped march her to the loss column, Carly Fiorina.  Fiorina is an interesting case, because when she wasn’t running herself but was campaigning for John McCain, her role was to play the kinda sorta feminist to assure voters that McCain was moderate on women’s issues. And abortion was a big one.  She spent a lot of her time assuring voters that McCain wasn’t a hardline anti-choicer.  But when it came to getting the endorsement of Sarah Palin and the anti-feminist, anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, Fiorina started singing the anti-choice tune.  And it worked.

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Well, it worked to get Sarah Palin to like her.  It didn’t work so well to get California to like her.  The state’s voters sent her home packing with only 43% of the overall vote, and despite SBA List claiming they’re a women’s organization, only 39%  of California women were impressed enough to vote for Fiorina.

So there you have it.  A lot of liberals and pro-choicers are despondent after the elections, but if you stop looking at the big numbers and start to get into the weeds, you’ll discover  that the voters still don’t like anti-choice politics.  And sometimes they don’t like them enough to show their disapproval at the polls.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, why we should focus on the homophobia as the cause edition.  I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the Arkansas school board member who said hateful things about the It Gets Better Project on his Facebook.  Well, Anderson Cooper took him to task, but he only walked it back a little.

  • bullying *

He apologized for the language and reiterated that he’s against bullying. But he only copped to it being over the top. But the reality is that even if you use more polite language to express the idea that gay people don’t deserve full human rights, you have the same problem. Teenagers don’t kill themselves because they’re sick of being bullied.  They kill themselves because they feel they’ll never be right.  And that is a message they get from churches and people who would never say “fag”, but still send them message that gay kids don’t count.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte