What Does Paul Ryan Tell Us About What Romney Thinks? [Reader Forum]

Readers talk about Mitt Romney's choice of running mate, and what we can deduce about his views of women and people of color.

By Channing Kennedy Aug 20, 2012

Paul Ryan! Who is he? Well, he’s the golden child of the GOP, hoisting aloft a for-real budget proposal in one hand and the collected works of Ayn Rand in the other. And as of last week, he’s Mitt Romney’s running mate. So who is he to women of color? Nobody to be trusted, explains our own Akiba Solomon, as she holds her nose and reads through a 2010 essay of his in which he compares black people to fetuses:

Ryan’s views have earned him high marks in the anti-choice movement. The Susan B. Anthony Project loves him. The National Right to Life Coalition gives his congressional voting record 100 percent. I don’t know if the chicken came before the egg, but his equating of the legal rights of Dred Scott and, by extension, black people, to zygotes mirrors that of Personhood Mississippi’s failed Amendment 26.

The anti-choice vice presidential candidate has also stimulated the salivary glands of tea party members by opposing the Affordable Care Act, a plan that makes hormonal birth control more affordable for women and provides annual screening for domestic violence, breastfeeding support and HPV testing.

I think you know where I’m going with this, but I’ll spell it out: By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has beefed up his radical anti-choice bonafides. As the descendent of enslaved people of African descent and a woman, I am concerned about his plans.

In the comments, reader Sean Pratt points out the classic misstep in ethical logic between treatment of fetuses and treatment of babies:

Roe v Wade is a privacy issue and should always remain so. And what Ryan’s essay neglects to add is the Court’s addition of the feasibility clause… […] If a fetus cannot survive outside the womb, that fetus does not have rights.

Plus, who is offering to care for all of these unwanted children? No one. Conservatives quote Ayn Rand and hail the values of personal responsibility. This means that these unwanted children to live (even though they cannot choose that right) but once alive they are on their own.

enormouswheel clarifies things for another commenter (and btw, shoutout to so many of our pro-choice male readers for speaking up on this):

The point is that Ryan is using the history of African Americans being denied their human rights in this country for his own rhetorical purposes, i.e. the push to deny women the right to choose. Look at how often the guy concerns himself with black history and the defense of black human rights and I think you can see why this is hypocritical and pandering. Speaking of hypocritical, unpack where Ryan is going with this and you can see he is: staunchly against government intervention in our lives (when it comes to, say, health care), and completely for government intervention in our lives (when it comes to women’s right to terminate a pregnancy safely and legally). Yawn. More of the same from the right wing.

[…] Oh, and about the Ayn Rand thing.

Elsewhere on Colorlines.com this week, Imara Jones describes how Paul Ryan’s infamous budget proposal, billed by conservatives as visionary and forward-thinking, is actually a deep dip into the economic injustices of the past. Says Imara:

Mid-century America unleashed a wave of changes which made it a fairer place. Black and brown Americans were able to participate fully in public life like never before. A person of African descent is now president. The country recently passed a demographic threshold: births amongst people of color now outnumber those of whites.

In the wake of these changes, conservatives have unleashed a wave of policies from immigration to health care to taxes to undermine the promise of this new reality.

Ryan’s presumptive nomination to be vice president is only the latest effort to erase hard fought and necessary modifications to the United States. Romney wants him to be "one heartbeat from the presidency."

The irony, of course, is that after the doors of opportunity were thrown open for millions of women and people of color–during the 1960s and 1970s–America had the strongest years of broad-based, equitable economic growth and lower debt levels. This era was when the modern American middle class solidified, especially for people of color.

In the comments, we got a fair number of first-time commenters offering pushback, respectfully and otherwise. Here’s PlayVicious, explaining things:

[…] Traditionally speaking, recessions typically hit non-white communities harder than their white counter parts. These are just the facts. It’s easy to blame Obama, as the GOP expects a lot of its voting base to do, when you just simply ignore the historical context of the wealth gap in the States.

It is also very important to point out the significance of the connection to Reagan’s economic policies which we know simply do not work. Before Bush, it was Reagan’s policies that pushed up the national debt astronomically. The fact that Ryan wants to try it again is simply absurd. And yes, the national debt is extremely high at the moment, but any honest conversation about the debt simply has to begin on the unprecedented debt Obama inherited. To do otherwise is just partisan squabbling.

When you look at how Republican economic policy has fared in conjunction with the vulnerable nature of non-white communities and how they are, historically, harder hit by any adverse economic and employment conditions, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Well, a no-brainer if you follow the facts, anyway.

And Sasha McCall:

Imara Jones is spot on. In fact, I can readily recall a host of articles, studies by independent institutions and much more that support (based on a plethora of facts) Jones’ analysis.

What I do find rather tiresome is when someone (especially someone of color) presents a well-documented factual argument about the dire state of affairs we face economically and the negative impact on people of color, seniors, youth, the middle class, the disabled — basically 95 percent of the country, that person is characterized as using the "race card" in some way by those who disagree with his or her analysis.

Such characterizations are of no value in bringing about a positive solution for all of us because they have a tendency to shut down any sustainable dialogue by clouding the truth with negative emotions and misguided ideologies. How we reverse that trend is by engaging in an open discussion based on facts. Such a dialogue is key to successful, positive change that benefits everyone and not an elite few.

What’s important to keep in mind that regardless of color, gender, gender preferences, wealth or lack thereof, religion or anything else, we are all in this together.

And ChaosTheThird:

[…] I really wonder why PoC even discuss the GOP, like this year out of the last 40 they’ll possibly offer us anything good. It’s a GIVEN that the Romney/Ryan ticket is a disaster. The folks who need convincing of that won’t BE convinced. For me, the discussion has to all be about Obama and how he isn’t offering us much better. Holding him accountable for his increasingly right-shifting stance.

Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.