Presidential Debates 2012: Obama May Have Lost, But Women are the Biggest Loser

Half the population went missing during the first presidential debate.

This week was the first debate for the presidential election. Most political commentators have weighed in their opinion. Romney beat Obama and Jim Lehrer did not mediate the debate very well. Topics discussed ranged from Obamacare, tax policy, the role of government, and how each candidate will fix the economy. Something that each candidate failed to mention: women. 

Bryce Covert discusses in The Nation how issues regarding women and their role in government were completely ignored. Considering women make 50.8% of the United States population, it sounds like another 47% gaffe from Romney. But, then add in Obama as well. In the 2008 election, women had a higher voting turnout (66% compared to 62%) than men. Why weren’t they mentioned in the debates?

I agree with Covert, issues pertaining women are categorized as social issues and not deemed important enough as job creation and health care. Of course, health care and job creation directly ties to women and affects half of the population.

Men were not only affected by job loss during the Great Recession. Women lost 218,000 jobs from June 2009 to May 2011, during the post recession period. Men have also gained more jobs in the education sector than women. Women tend to dominate in the educational field, so it is strange that each candidate did not try and focus this segment towards women.

Romney and Obama did discussed education. Romney criticized Obama’s inability to create more teaching jobs while Obama criticized Romney’s approach to education. Instead of critiquing each other’s platforms, shouldn’t they have spent more time on how they are going to increase more teaching jobs? Since the sector is geared towards women, wouldn’t it make sense to mention them in their debates? I understand they are under a time constriction, but mentioning women in this section might have appealed to women who were watching the debate.

Health care was an important issue during the debate. Romney and Obama argued at length about Obamacare. Obama mentioned the success of Obamacare, while Romney explained how he would repeal Obamacare and briefly gave insight into his new plan. Neither one of them discussed it at great lengths.

One would think that since they discussed Medicare and youth, they would discuss how health care affected women. Obama talked about his grandmother, but this story pertained to the discussion of Medicare and Social Security. He could have segued into the topic of how Obamacare helps women quite significantly.

Women’s rights such as the rights to mandate contraception and abortion have been hotly contested issues between either candidate. While this issue would have spurred a whole other debate that did was not the primary focus of that night, appealing Obamacare has a significant affect on women. That issue could have been brought up yet without launching into a huge discussion about abortion.

Obviously, each candidate already went over their allotted time on certain issues and one cannot discuss everything that is important, but mentioning women would not have taken away from the primary issues. Women are affected by health care, whether it’s continuing Obamacare or repealing it. Women are affected by the economy; they lost their jobs to the recession, as well as men.

In an election where women may turn out at a larger rate than men, the candidates should ensure they mention women in the upcoming debates.

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Michelle Adams

Currently serving as an AmeriCorps member at the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness with the Campaign to End Homelessness program, Michelle is passionate about ending homelessness. She graduated with a B.A. in Communication and a specialization in public relations and a minor in sexuality and conflict/management from Michigan State University. Her interests lie in writing about culture, sexuality/gender and homelessness. Offline she enjoys quoting How I Met Your Mother, volunteering, swinging at parks and stargazing.

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