Transcript of Gloria Steinem’s speech
Saturday, October 20, 2012 at Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida
Do what Democracy demands. And, that is to make change from the bottom up. It is a lie that it comes from the top down. No. That’s what they want us to think—to dis-empower us. No, it comes from us. Like a tree, it comes from the bottom up.
Mitt Romey is the most undemocratic, anti-equality, authoritarian, extremist candidate I have ever seen, and there is the most distance between what he says and what he does.
He has the nerve to say he is for job creation. His entire career has been job elimination. He is not even willing to say he is for equal pay. And it happens that equal pay for women of all races is the greatest economic stimulus this country could ever have.
Equal pay, and I mean for equal work, would put $200 billion more into the economy every year. That means about $137 for every white woman per pay check—something like $300 for every woman of color who are doubly discriminated against. And you know that those women are not going to put that money into a Cayman Islands bank account—they are going to spend that money, and that is going to create jobs.
And he has the nerve, the nerve, and I have never seen anything like it, even in the Eisenhower era, anybody who refused to say they were for equal pay. Even if they didn’t do anything about it, they at least said they were for equal pay, and [Romney] refuses to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is crucial to gaining equal pay.
[Romney] has pledged, on the Republic Party platform, to go around the Supreme Court, and achieve the human life Amendment to the Constitution, which would declare the fertilized egg to be a person.
I would like to say that neither the corporation nor the fertilized egg is a person. Pregnant women do not have two votes.
By declaring the fertilized egg to be a person, he would effectively nationalize women’s bodies throughout our child-bearing years. We would be legally restrained for all nine months of our pregnancy if there were reasonable cause to believe we might damage the fertilized egg. And indeed this is already going on with women who are drug addicted. Who really have no options, and yet there is more concern about their pregnancy than there is about them and getting free from drugs on their own.
It would give the government the right to legally search our wombs. To see if we were pregnant or not and if you think that’s impossible, think about the trans-vaginal probe that is legalized rape.
This is the most extreme, anti-equality candidate that has ever existed.
I hope and believe in my heart and in my knowledge that there are many, many, many Republicans that want to free the Republican Party from these crazed extremists that Romney represents.
The great centrist Republican Party needs to come back. In fact Nixon supported the Equal Rights Amendment. Goldwater supported reproductive freedom and Planned Parenthood. Bush supported and Reagan supported immigrant rights. None of them could get nominated by this extremist party now. The fact that we have so many independent is mainly because people have fled the Republican Party.
So I just want to say to all, and I hope you will say to your Republican friends, first of all, I apologize for all the old Democrats who came and took over your party. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed it began, because the old racist Democrats left the Democratic Party and started taking over the Republican Party. Think about Jesse Helms, right? Think about all the racist Democrats. They left and started to take over the Republican Party. And this trend has continued with fundamentalist churches that used to be either a-political or Democratic in the south, they have taken over the levers of power of the Republican Party so that there is almost nothing in its platform that most Republicans support.
It is so dangerous to have one of our two great Parties controlled by extremists. It is incredibly dangerous, because when we naturally are not 100 percent happy with one group, we just vote for the other one without understanding that we are voting against ourselves.
So if there are any Republicans here, I personally apologize for the authoritarian crazy Democrats that took your party over.
And the only way to get rid of them is to not only to win this election but to win it big… winning it big is incredibly important in Florida. So it cannot be “fudged” around the edges. In 2000, the morning after the presidential election between Bush and Gore, I was accidentally speaking at Palm Beach County Community College—it was just a college lecture that had been booked, you know, I don’t know how long before. There were 706 people in that auditorium. All we knew was that there needed to be a recount, that the result hadn’t been announced yet.
And as people stood up to say what had happened to them, one by one they were saying, ‘Oh that happened to me too; I didn’t know that I voted for Buchannan… ‘ Out of 706 people, about 100 had either been unable to vote at all, though they went to the polls, or they were unable to vote for the people they wanted to vote for. In one auditorium. You know, statewide, what did that mean? And if it had not been for one vote on the Supreme Court, you would have had a recount, and [Al] Gore would have been President of the United States.
There would have been much better environmental policies. There wouldn’t have been a war in Iraq. There wouldn’t have been an abstinence-only, government-enforced sex education policy that has given us the highest rate of unwanted pregnancies in the whole world. There wouldn’t have been a transfer of wealth from government to private hands that has never been matched in human history. There wouldn’t have been a move from a CEO that eared about 30 times the average to a CEO that earned 1,000 times the average. I mean, if you ever think that your vote doesn’t count, just think what happened all because of a theoretical 536 votes in Florida.
This voting day is the one day of our lives and on Earth and I have to say we owe this to people in the world whose lives are dictated by US policy, too, but this is the one day on Earth where the least powerful equal the most powerful.
I hope that however you can, you will make sure that from now until voting day, you make sure people are not only going to vote, take 10 people with you, take 100 people with you—make it a party. Sit with people’s kids so they can vote. And they are not only going to vote, they are going to fight to vote. If we can’t vote, we are going to sit there until we can vote. We are not going to take no for an answer. We are going to get rid of these crazed extremists who do not represent the majority even of their own party.
So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here today. I know you don’t need any outsiders to tell you this, us outsiders are just like excuses for you to come together and discover you didn’t need us in the first place. But… be sure that you make your own lives better today. Look around, see people you don’t know, introduce yourself, say what you care about. If you’re here, you share values, you share interests, you’ll meet a new friend a new colleague, you’ll get a new job a new love affair, who knows.
And remember that when you make other people’s lives better, you make your own better.