CHARLOTTE – Women speakers at the Democratic National Convention appealed for President Obama’s reelection as the best answer to the GOP’s “war on women.”
The speakers laid down a withering counter-fire, blasting the Republicans for attempting to roll back the clock, stripping women of gains they have won in more equal wages, political representation, and reproductive rights.
Lilly Ledbetter praised the president for forging ahead in support of her struggle against wage discrimination even when the rightwing-dominated U.S. Supreme Court rejected her complaint on grounds she had missed the deadline for filing the lawsuit – incredible since the discrimination over 19 years was kept secret from her.
“And if we hadn’t elected President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded interpretation would have been the law of the land,” Ledbetter told the cheering crowd.
“But with President Obama on our side, even though I lost before the Supreme Court, we won. The first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”
She did not receive a dime to compensate her for nearly two decades of corporate wage chiseling, she charged, and women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a male worker earns.
“Maybe 23 cents doesn’t sound like a lot to someone with a Swiss Bank account, Cayman Island Investments and an IRA worth tens of millions,” she said, referring to the billions hidden in the coffers of GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“But Gov. Romney, when we lose 23 cents every hour, every day, every paycheck, every job, our entire lives, what we lose can’t be measured in dollars.”
She added, “The cause which bears my name is bigger than me. It’s as big as all of us…And with President Obama, we’re going to win.”
Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) said women “cannot trust Mitt Romney” to protect their health. He would repeal Obamacare, she charged, “taking away our access to better maternal and prenatal care and the law’s near-universal coverage of birth control.”
Romney would overturn Roe v. Wade and sign into law a wave of outrageous restrictions on a woman’s ability to make decisions about her pregnancy.
“But there is one decision he cannot take away and that’s the one women will make on November 6” Election Day, she said to a roaring ovation.
Keenan said she grew up in Anaconda, Mont., her father a copper smelter worker who, like all the others, wore a brass identity tag stamped with the number 720 that he dropped in the bucket and retrieved at shift’s end and hung it on a tag-board to prove he was still alive.
“I carried that brass tag with me during all my campaigns in Montana,” she said. “To me that number symbolizes the value of hard work and opportunity, the importance of sticking together. We are ready to work hard, work together to reelect President Barack Obama.”
Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who won fame when an all-male Congressional committee refused to allow her to testify in support of health care coverage of contraceptives, was greeted with a prolonged thunderous ovation. The loathsome Rush Limbaugh had snarled on the air that Fluke is a “slut.”
Fluke said the 2012 elections present voters with a stark choice between two visions of America, “an offensive, obsolete relic of our past” led by Romney who “stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs, who won’t stand up to the slurs or to any of the extreme, bigoted, voices in his own party.”
The other vision, she said, is “an America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked thinks of his daughters and stands with the woman.”
Instead of trying to silence her, she added, “you invite me here and give me a microphone to amplify our voice.”
Over the last six months, she concluded, “I’ve seen what those two futures look like. And six months from now we’ll all be living in one or the other. But only one. A country where our president either has our back or turns his back.”
The Republican right is promoting a law that embodies that menacing future. It would “allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms” because it blocks abortions to save a pregnant woman’s life.
GOP politicians like Missouri’s Todd Aiken who speaks of “legitimate rape” will “redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again,” she said.
The appeals reached a high point with First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech about her husband that rang with mutual respect for their working class origins. She said she loves him more because he has kept the faith, fighting for change that benefits the working people, women especially. She urged the crowd to redouble their effort to win him a second term so he can continue that work.
Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama delivers her well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention. (CC)