Once Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan declared they were not going to have their campaigns dictated by “fact checking,” the Republican presidential contenders put the American public on notice that we had in fact entered a post-factual era of political campaigns. So the fact that Ryan lied in his speech at the Republican National Committee is in some ways a non-story. Romney and Ryan announced their intention to lie during their campaign and Ryan’s speech was simply making good on that promise.
For women voters though, the brazen nature of Ryan’s lies, and the comfort in which he let them slide right off his tongue presents a very specific problem because there’s no area where Ryan lies quite so comfortably as he does when stumping on issues that hit women voters hardest: health care, Medicare and abortion.
The lies Paul Ryan tells are not just about deceiving voters, they reflect a worldview shared among certain elements of the conservative movement that voters, but particularly women, are not to be trusted with the necessary details of crafting policy and governing. We see this not just in Ryan’s willingness to lie about his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system, but his embrace of laws like informed consent abortion restrictions. Supporters justify those laws, embodied in mandatory ultrasounds, mandatory waiting periods and mandated (and demonstrably false) medical risk disclosures, by claiming that women are unable to competently make a decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy without substantial and direct assistance and interference by the state.
Contrast Ryan’s broad support of informed consent laws in the context of abortion with his opposition to financial services disclosures. If more information is better to make serious, adult decisions, then why does this not apply to situations where millions of dollars are at risk?
Of course, there’s a real danger in Ryan’s game, and that is that it works. “Paul Ryan may believe that he can hide his destructive views on both social and economic issues, but women voters know exactly how his extremist agenda will impact their lives,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List.
Recent EMILY’s List research showed that independent women voters overwhelmingly disapproved of policies detailed in the Ryan Plan.
· 65% of independent women surveyed found a plan to reduce critical services for seniors like Medicare a convincing reason to vote against Republicans running for Congress.
· 69% think that shifting the cost of preventative healthcare services like mammograms to women is a convincing reason to vote against Republicans running for Congress.
· 70% found policies that favor the rich at the expense of middle class families a convincing reason to vote against Republicans running for Congress.
So yes, Paul Ryan is a liar. That much is not news, nor is it news that given the unpopularity of his domestic policy positions Ryan would do what he can to try and hide the details from the voting public. But what we should be talking about is what that willingness says about Ryan’s views of voters, particularly women voters, and how that would translate in a Romney-Ryan administration.
Photo from DonkeyHotey via flickr.