Romney's views stuck in the 1950s

OPINION

Some time tomorrow the balance of power in the world will change once again.

Three years ago I breathed a sigh of relief when the US seemed to grow up and elect its first black president – and man who had as much appeal to women as to men.

Barack Obama was a breath of fresh air – a Democrat, a man with a social conscience, with charisma and an orator that could unite the fracturing social fabric that was left in the wake of George WBush.

But Mr Obama, despite his best efforts, was left with an economy in tatters.

He had to battle to push through any social reforms that could have benefited millions of Americans, and although he had a magic quality about him, he didn’t have a magician’s wand that could pull what was once the world’s largest economy back from the brink.

With only three years to prove himself as a saviour, Mr Obama was swimming against the tide.

So, tomorrow’s US presidential election is far from a sure thing for the man who was once crowned king. Instead the world – not just the US – faces the prospect of having another Republican take the reins and, although he may not be George W, Mitt Romney is far from a forward thinker.

For starters, President Mitt is not a moniker that inspires trust and admiration. What kind of name is Mitt anyway? Although Obama may not have been a traditional, good ol’ American name, there was some history behind his mixed heritage.

But it’s not the name of this would-be world leader that has me most concerned. Rather it is his politics on women’s issues. Throughout the presidential campaign Mr Romney has proven that the fairer sex is not worth his worries. It started long before his ‘‘binders full of women’’ comment about the number of females he would appoint to positions of power within his government.

No, Mitt’s barely veiled misogyny has been bubbling away for the long campaign, even years beforehand. In fact, Mr Romney’s marginalisation of women started in 2005 when he vetoed a bill as Massachusetts governor that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception.

This year he supported an amendment to the Planned Parenthood Bill that would have allowed any business to opt out of the contraceptive mandate, and then said he would support a state constitutional amendment that would declare that life begins at conception, potentially making some contraceptives illegal.

In the past couple of weeks, Mr Romney has said he would end US government support for Planned Parenthood, which would effectively make it impossible for women from less affluent demographics to access things like mammograms and pap smears.

Although the 1950s was a boom time for the States, Mr Romney’s last-century sensibilities will certainly set back the rights of women in the US by more than 60 years.

Equal pay for equal work if you’re a woman is a foreign concept to the well-heeled candidate and he’s made no secret of the fact that he believes a woman’s place is not behind the desk of a major corporation but at home keeping the fires burning – not their bras.

Of course, you may think that what happens in the US will have no impact on our lives over here. And you may well be right. But if history is anything to go by, how the US behaves, what its politicians decide, does impact on the rest of the world.

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