Word on the street is Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Democrats will launch a major battle supporting pay equity for the women of America that could be a defining moment in the 2012 campaign.
Republican leaders complain about the phrase "war against women" that has been used, in my opinion correctly, to describe Republican policies that systematically hurt the interests of women on matters including jobs, fairness in pay and healthcare for women. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) complains about this charge at the very moment he is spearheading an attack against preventive health programs that are so important to women, seeking to pit them against students facing punishing increases in student loan interest rates.
The coming initiative by Senate Democrats to battle for women's pay equity, similar to battles being fought by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats, and the championing of women's issues by President Obama lead me to coin a new phrase in this blog post: the Democratic war FOR women.
Policies matter. Elections matter. A certain extremist Republican member of the House might call this communism, but I call it a war FOR women by Democrats standing WITH women on the fundamental issue of whether women, like all workers, should receive an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
I applaud Senate Democrats for preparing to again call up equal pay for women. I hope they keep this legislation on the floor of the Senate for a week, taking the case of American women to the country, forcing Republicans to vote yes or no or abuse the filibuster yet again to try to prevent fair pay for women from even receiving a vote.
I look forward to House Democrats trying to bring this issue to the floor of the House, forcing Republicans who complain about being attacked for their war against women to stand for pay equity, or against pay equity, or to try to prevent the House from voting on pay equity for women at all.
I hope President Obama will again speak to the nation for pay equity, in successive speeches over a week, taking the women's case to the voters and giving Mitt Romney the opportunity to say once and for all whether he is for pay equity for women, or against it.
I propose that the 99 percent and the Occupy Wall Street movement mobilize during this war for pay equity for women, and for jobs and pay equity for all workers, in a national Freedom Summer campaign that will include massive voter registration and citizen activism.
I suggest that during this war for women Democratic donors make a special effort to show their support and that women and men with the greatest means make the largest donations they can to super-PACs such as Priorities USA, Majority PAC and House Majority PAC to show their solidarity and answer the super-wealthy on the right, who are spending tens of millions of dollars to wage their war against pay equity and Democrats who battle for it.
The stakes in the 2012 election are enormous. Mitt Romney can hedge and haw and try to reinvent himself yet again. The five men of the Supreme Court right continue to move the court even further into the war-against-the-interests-of-women camp, and believe that the wealthiest (usually men of the right) should have the power to buy American elections. Congressional Republicans lead the fight against pay equity for women and healthcare programs that serve women.
Yes: Elections matter. Policies matter. I propose that the right-wing extremism, political obstructionism, lust for power and attitudes of intolerance that grip the Republican Party today lead to policies that are a war against the interests of women, a war against the interests of Hispanics, a war against the interests of workers, a war against the interests of the poor and a war against the interests of those laid off or fired by radical Republican governors including police, firefighters, teachers, nurses and librarians.
And yes: The war against the interests of women and workers and the poor is now fought with the ultimate weapon: a war in favor of laws that allow the wealthy to buy elections, backed by a war against the right of others to vote that is alien to the American idea.
If Republicans want to stop being accused of waging these wars, they should stop launching them. If Republicans want to stop being tarred and feathered by the charge that they wage these wars against women, they should stop fighting them, and start supporting pay equity for women and stop attacking healthcare programs vital for women, their daughters, their sons and their babies.
I applaud Reid for his long history of supporting equal pay for women, which was one of many reasons I supported him so strongly in his battle for reelection against Sharron Angle, and one reason he defeated her so handily.
Mitt Romney cannot Etch-a-Sketch his way out of opposition to programs important to women. I truly admire his wonderful wife, Ann Romney, but the issues surrounding a cable pundit mean nothing compared to Romney's policies that are destructive to the interests of working women and poor women, and for that matter, working men and poor men.
And now, on the floors of the House and Senate and in the campaign to be leader of the nation, the Democrats are waging their war for women. By doing so they are answering the big lie that they are the voice of socialism and communism with the big truth that they are waging a war for women, and for men, who deserve a good job and a fair wage in a prosperous nation that lifts all boats together.
This column was originally published at The Hill.
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