People's expectations for Tuesday night's Republican debate could be best summed up in one moment. After candidates had gone on about their economic policies (or lack thereof), the network posted a word cloud based off of Facebook conversations. What did America want to know about? Homeland security and taxes were two of the big hitters, along with the size of government and campaign finances. Now get out your magnifying glass, because equal pay and income inequality were in the lowest possible type setting. Luckily for viewers (I guess?), women were ignored during the debate.
It's unsurprising that social issues were largely absent from this debate. It centered on economics, so the candidates spent a lot of their time fielding questions on job growth and how President Obama has apparently singlehandedly run our economy into the ground. But believe it or not, there are many issues that directly affect women that don't have to do with their vaginas! Unfortunately, economic things like equal pay, childcare, and women's healthcare were all but absent from the discourse. The most mentions of women came in the context of Fannie Mae.
There was a moment when childcare looked like it might make an entrance. Florida Senator Marco Rubio acknowledged something that female voters are acutely aware of, then failed to address it with any kind of substance.
Rubio went on about the economic burden of raising the cute wittle "future tax payers" of America, which he noted often costs more than college tuition in many states. But after that heartbreaking windup, he failed to address why he opposes raising the minimum wage. And here I thought he was going to talk about real issues facing American families. But it just didn't fit into his tax plan. Hooray!
Economic equality would have been a natural place for the candidates to include women in their talking points. Unfortunately, the GOP seemingly could give a rat's ass about making sure that women are receiving equal pay for equal work. Correspondent to its size on the word cloud, equal pay wasn't even a blip on any candidates' radar during the debate. The Republican party as a whole — not to mention the individual candidates — has faced major blowback for their perceived war on women, which puts equal pay at its center. Carly Fiorina, for example, has openly opposed equal pay despite, uh, being a woman.
I already mentioned that social issues were not slated as a central part of the debate, but most rational people would see the link between women's healthcare and economics. Not the Republicans, though. The only mention of reproductive health was Ben Carson's strange assertion that 200 babies had been killed by abortionists during the debate.
It's not entirely clear where he grabbed that statistic from, but there is pretty clear research demonstrating that reproductive healthcare and economic security for women are inextricably linked. Given that government-imposed restrictions on reproductive health and women's healthcare in general lead to almost insurmountable economic barriers for women, it might have been something worth mentioning ... aside from shaming women for getting abortions.