Durham-López campaign statement—Obama tells women voters: Ask not what the president can do for you, but what you can do for the president

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The Obama presidential campaign appears to have recently turned its attention to women voters and the fact that they are none too happy with his waffling on reproductive rights and other issues. Hence the idea was hatched to do a one-million-woman mailing targeting three groups—mothers, young women and older women—backed up by phone banking and a web site.

The president is re-selling his privatized healthcare plan (which specifically excluded abortion) as a feminist coup in hopes he can lure women back into the fold, after they narrowly went for the Republicans in the 2010 midterm election. You can read what the Durham/López Un-millionaire campaign thinks of Obamacare here.

But what exactly has the president done for women and how much better is it than what the Republican patriarchs offer?

If you are a working woman, you may remember that one of the first bills Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. The act gives victims of wage discrimination more time to file suits. That’s helpful—as long as you can afford an attorney, your house isn’t underwater, and you haven’t run out your unemployment. Reforms like this create the legal means to fight discrimination but not the basis to win. In fact, Obama has been a much better friend of the discriminators—the banks, Wall Street, industrialists and union-busters–than of women workers.

If you are lesbian, you know that the president still doesn’t support gay marriage, although after a long delay he endorsed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. He also took two years to end “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” waiting until December 2010 to sign the bill. His military chiefs then dragged their feet on implementation, claiming they needed more time to figure out how the change would affect military operations.

If you are a young woman, you may be feeling vulnerable since the White House overruled the Food and Drug Administration proposal to make emergency contraception available without a prescription to under-age women.

If you are an undocumented immigrant, you are probably worried about being separated from your U.S.-born children because the president gave ICE $600 million to hire 1,500 more agents, among other things, and has deported more people than G.W. Bush. His administration has deported nearly half a million, many of them mothers, in the last year alone.

If you work for a well-heeled university, hospital or school operated by a religious institution, Obama signed a deal that exempts your employer from paying for insurance to cover your reproductive services. (Who is imposing whose beliefs here? Is the government “oppressing” wealthy, tax-exempt churches or are pastors and priests imposing their beliefs on women? We think the latter.)

If you are a unionist or a public worker, you probably noticed that Obama was completely invisible during the intense labor battles raging in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee—despite $200 million dollars poured into his 2008 presidential campaign by the AFL-CIO. (On March 12, the AFL-CIO announced it would endorse the president again.)

If you are female and you care about free speech and the First Amendment, Obama’s signing of H.R. 347, the misleadingly named Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, and the National Defense Authorization Act should be cause for deep concern. H.R. 347, also known as the “Trespass Act,” makes protest of any type a federal offense if it occurs in the presence of the Secret Service, with penalties of one to 10 years in federal prison. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president on December 31, 2011, authorizes indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and foreigners anywhere in the world, without charge or trial, by the U.S. military.

Finally, if you are an Iraqi, Afghan, Palestinian, Caribbean or Latin American woman, Obama’s four-year reign has not brought you and your children peace or security. Rather it has meant more U.S. military bases, more killing, more sophisticated methods of extermination, more arming of your enemies, more fanning the flames of destruction.

President Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, has simply continued the policies of G.W. Bush in a less bellicose and more charming, but none-the-less imperialist, manner, by arming and embracing reactionary regimes that repress their own people.

It is an illusion to think that any man or woman in Obama’s position is going to rise above the desires of the capitalist class that rules this country. The president of the United States, regardless of color or gender, is the leader of the most privileged 1% on planet Earth. His or her job is to protect the interests of this class.

At the same time, Obama is continually the target of vile attack by racists. These character assassinations are abominable, and socialists condemn them. At the same time, these assaults serve to mask the fact that Obama does not actually represent the interests of the oppressed group to which he belongs. Neither would another establishment president who happened to be female, or Black, or another person of color. Racism and sexism are key to keeping the working class divided and profits up, and are routinely practiced by all the factions within the ruling class depending on their usefulness at a particular time.

So what has President Obama—spokesperson for and defender of Wall Street—done for women? Not enough to warrant an endorsement from women voters. For that matter, neither does any of the Republican candidates who range somewhere between “Father Knows Best” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” on women’s issues.

Better to hang onto a sense of self-respect and register a protest at the polls by voting socialist feminist. Write in Stephen Durham for president and Christina López for vice president. You’ll be casting your ballot for the greater good, rather than the lesser evil. The question is not what Obama or Romney (or dare we contemplate Santorum?) has done for women, but what women can do for themselves by standing together across lines of nationality, immigration status, color, gender and disability to fight for freedom and peace in our troubled world.

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