“The Rick Snyder is perfect!” cries a woman as she tries on a wedding dress meant to represent Michigan’s current Republican governor. You read that right — in this campaign ad, created by the College Republican National Committee, Rick Snyder is played by a wedding dress. The CRNC seems to believe that college women are incapable of making any decision that isn’t somehow related to shopping. I’m sorry, but are you kidding me? Nice try connecting to college women, CRNC, but when we go to the voting booth we don’t treat it like a dressing room at a department store. This ad reflects the sometimes hilarious and almost always condescending relationship between the Republican Party and American women. No matter how hard the GOP tries to convince women that they’re the “best fit,” they fail to grasp that women don’t pick candidates like they pick clothing. All the white tulle and lace in the world can’t hide how Republican policies on reproductive rights, equal pay and the minimum wage hurt women. Despite a lack of frill, women are capable of looking at Democratic policies and recognizing that Democrats are making real, positive change. This election cycle women need to go to the polls and tell the GOP loud and clear that absolutely nothing could make us say yes to the GOP’s antiquated, offensive policies.
What happens when women don’t get out to the polls in November? In 2010, women, students and people of color stayed home on Election Day, and across the country, Republicans were victorious. What’s become clear in the four years since then is that the old white men elected in 2010 really just don’t get it. The disastrous effects of Republican dominance were felt especially hard in Michigan when the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act was passed December 2013 and went into effect March 2014. The law prohibits all insurance plans in Michigan from covering abortions, no matter the circumstance. If individuals were to need an abortion procedure, they would have to buy a separate add-on to cover it, called a “rider,” ahead of time. Think about that. Women are being asked to plan ahead of time … for an unplanned pregnancy. Effectively, people who buy insurance as individuals are forced to plan ahead for an abortion, or risk paying the full price out of pocket, a cost that can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. This law is commonly known as the “rape insurance” law because if someone were to become pregnant as a result of sexual assault, they would potentially have to pay for an expensive abortion procedure out of pocket. That is, unless they had planned ahead to be raped.
While Republicans in the state legislature are passing laws to restrict access to reproductive health care, Democratic politicians at all levels of government are fighting to protect women’s rights. In the race for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat, Democratic candidate Gary Peters supports equal pay and easy access to health care for women. His Republican opponent, Terri Lynn Land, voices the antiquated argument that women “are more interested in flexibility in a job than pay” because women lead a “different lifestyle.” Even worse, Land thinks that despite her anti-women policies she’s more pro-women than Gary Peters, as if being a woman inherently makes your policies supportive of women. A pro-women candidate is someone who, like Gary Peters, has a proven record of fighting for women’s rights.
At the state level is Mark Schauer, battling Rick Snyder in Michigan’s gubernatorial race. A former member of the Michigan House and Senate, Schauer has represented Michigan in Congress, and he cast his first vote there in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. As governor he will work to repeal the restrictive abortion rider bill and fight for equal pay legislation at the state level. His running mate, Lisa Brown, is a fierce fighter for women’s reproductive freedom, and argued against restrictive anti-choice legislation so passionately, she was censured for saying the word ‘vagina’ on the House floor.
At a local level, Democratic candidate Rebekah Warren is in a tight race for a seat in Michigan’s legislature. Warren, who represents Ann Arbor in Lansing, has served in Michigan’s legislature since 2007, first as a representative and then as a senator since 2011. Throughout her career she has campaigned for women’s issues by sponsoring legislation preventing pay discrimination and voicing her beliefs in favor of abortion rights. For her work on pro-choice issues, she was named Legislator of the Year in 2009 by the National Organization of Women of Michigan.
When Nov. 4 comes, we need to remember what we are voting for and whom it is affecting. Michigan doesn’t need the Terri Lynn Lands of the world making uninformed decisions that negatively impact women’s lives. Michigan needs legislators like Gary Peters, Mark Schauer and Rebekah Warren fighting tirelessly for the rights of millions of Michigan women. It’s 2014, and it’s time for progress.
Four years ago, students and Democrats stayed home on Election Day; Michigan’s women have suffered the consequences every day since. Rather than making progress toward equal pay and reproductive freedom, we got the offensive and restrictive abortion rider bill and a group of Republican legislators who couldn’t care less about the issues facing women. When students don’t vote, women lose. Don’t let that happen this Nov. 4. When you get to the voting booth, remember that Democrats are fighting for you.
Go blue, vote blue.
Laura Meyer is an LSA junior. Erika Tsuchiya is an LSA freshman. Elisabeth Benham is an LSA freshman. All three authors are members of the Women’s issues committee of the College Democrats at the University of Michigan.