Wednesday morning on CNN’s morning show Starting Point, host Soledad O’Brien interviewed Jon Huntsman’s three daughters, Abby, Liddy, and Mary Anne Huntsman. The three talked about the direction of the 2012 GOP race for the Presidential candidate nomination. In keeping with the theme of this year’s commentary, the conversation turned the reason women are not more supportive of Rick Santorum (i.e. – candidates’ conservative views on contraception which do not reflect Americans’ views). The Huntsmans typically have intelligent things to say regarding current issues. But their comments yesterday missed the mark.
When asked about contraception as a political issue, Abby Huntsman replied,
“I think that contraception is an important issue, obviously, for women. But I think the more that we spend talking about it takes away from getting the economy back or, you know, foreign policy.”
Then Mary Anne Huntsman doubled down,
“I really think every second you talk about these social issues is a second away from talking about jobs… it’s about jobs.”
Someone should explain to these women that contraception certainly is an important issue, not just for women; but for the men who want to postpone fatherhood, plan their family size, and who most certainly are affected by unplanned pregnancies.
Additionally, the subject of contraception can never be completely segregated from jobs. Access to contraception has increased women’s role in the workplace, which had a drastically positive impact on gross domestic productivity. National productivity directly affects our economic bottom line as a nation. When half of the population is not economically productive, the country suffers. One has only to look at economies in countries that oppress their women to find evidence of this.
The GOP has an onerous reputation for campaigning on economic issues and small government rhetoric and, upon taking office, turning to restrictive legislation on social issues on which Congress does not necessarily have jurisdiction – the Defense of Marriage Act being a prime example. Such legislation extends the tendrils of government all the way into our private lives, our bedrooms, our bodies. That’s not smaller government. It’s dispersed government. Trying the social rhetoric of a candidate during the election campaign allows people to make informed decisions about whether the candidate would indeed broaden the reach of government in such a way.
So listen up Abby, Liddy and Mary Anne. Jobs are important. The economy is important. Foreign policy is important. And social issues are important. Any President can help create jobs. Any President can help improve the economy. But not every candidate possesses the restraint to keep his or her hands off of our liberty. And that’s a big deal.