Elections are moral choices. They are an opportunity for a society to say at the ballot box what it values. The first presidential debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revealed aspects of Romney’s policy positions that would be bad for human rights in the United States and bad for the earth. Eco-womanism tells us that we ought not to offend Mother Nature. If we do we will pay the price.
Never mind Romney’s overheated, over-hyper presentation. Never mind that he will turn Medicare into a voucher plan that will make it into something very different from what it is now. Never mind that he wants us to believe that he will lower taxes, keep military spending at least at current levels, cut discretionary spending, including federal funding for PBS, and balance the budget. The math does still does not work.
The thing that I found most disturbing about Romney’s policies is his lack of understanding that health care is a human right and the health of the planet is necessary for human health.
He said that on day one of his presidency he would repeal the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare. He said health care ought to be a state responsibility. Those of us who support universal health care as a federal responsibility understand that health care is a universal human right. We cannot have life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness if we are unhealthy. The Constitution says that the establishment of justice is one of the purposes of the federal government. Universal health care is an issue of distributive justice.
Justice means that every person is able to have that which he or she is due. Since health care is a human right, every person is due quality health care. It should not matter what state a person lives in. Someone living in Mississippi has the same right to health care as a person in Massachusetts. The ACA was a good thing in that it established this principle in the United States. That this country is among the last industrialized countries to offer universal health care to its citizens is a negative and shameful American exceptionalism.
Much of what Romney said about the ACA Wednesday night was simply false. (See Factcheck.org)There will be no unelected panels to tell you what kinds of health services you may receive. The good news is that people will no longer be chained to jobs they do not want to work because they need health insurance. This is a matter of liberty.
However, Romney wants to also increase drilling for oil and gas, including on federal lands. The question is does this mean more hydraulic fracturing a.k.a. fracking? This is a process that drills deep into the earth and then injects water and chemicals to release the oil and gas. Toxic water is a by-product of the procedure. Now the question becomes where do we store this poison water?
If the BP oil spill and other lesser known spills teach us anything, it is that we do not have the technical know-how to stop environmental damage from oil and gas drilling. President Obama was right to hold off on the Keystone pipeline until environmental impact studies are completed. There are those of us, myself among them, who do not want to see the pipeline because the oil coming from Canada will exacerbate climate change.
If the 90-degree spring and the 100-degree summer and the crop-killing, earth- cracking drought in the Midwest and the water shortage in the West do not warn us of the suffering of a fragile ecology that can lead to harmful effects for human life, I do not know what will. Romney talks about more jobs. However, more jobs can also come from investments in renewable energy—wind and solar. This is the future.
Believers believe that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. Human rights are holy. We also believe that it is our human obligation to keep and to care for the earth. Both eco-feminism and eco-womanism know that we are the earth and the earth is us. The health of both humanity and the natural world is an important value.
Romney’s policies are antithetical to these values.