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Is a ‘Big Picture’ Election Impossible?

At the Washington Times, Emily Esfahani Smith weighs in on Lena Dunham’s Obama ad, and what it says about her show Girls:

The show’s message that casual sex leads to the objectification of women stood in direct contrast to the standard pop culture trope — found in shows like “Sex and the City,” magazines like Cosmopolitan, and movies like “No Strings Attached” — that sex with no strings attached empowers girls. 

“I felt like I was cruelly duped by much of the television I saw,” Miss Dunham told the New York Times last spring on the eve of the debut of “Girls.” …

That was Miss Dunham 1.0.

To Miss Dunham 2.0, women really are just sexual objects, after all. They make important decisions, like voting for president, by consulting what goes on between their legs rather than by what goes on between their ears. As she advises in the ad, “You want to do it with a guy who cares whether you get health insurance and specifically whether you get birth control.”

Dunham isn’t the only person supporting Obama (in part) because of his birth control provisions. But it probably has less to do with them supporting the “objectification of women,” and more to do with wanting something for “free” that they otherwise would have paid for.

It’s one thing to think the birth control mandate is a good idea. But is it really a reasonable issue to pin your vote on? Should it be a serious factor for deciding the direction of the country?

Democrats seem to hope so. Birth control is the first issue Dunham cites in the ad, probably because it’s the one aspect of Obamacare that resonates the most with the people who watch her show Girls. Obamacare will actually be impacted by this election, unlike the other issues Dunham mentioned (Iraq withdrawal — already done, and actually an agreement set under Bush; supporting gay marriage — Obama says the choice is up to the states, not the federal government; and Lilly Ledbetter, which was signed three years ago and has had no change whatsoever in the supposed gender wage gap).

Dunham’s show has been praised by conservatives, in part, because it puts a mirror up to a generation that’s stuck in an extended adolescence. She plays a smart recent college graduate who still has no idea how to interact with adults or take care of herself. But the show can either be viewed as an indictment of Millennials, or it can be viewed in earnest. You could easily picture the characters voting for “free birth control,” with no real thought for larger issues, and there are plenty of people out there who probably think exactly the same way.

That’s what Obama has relied on this election — various little promises to various little slices of the electorate. It’s what’s made it so difficult for Republicans to run the “big picture” election they had hoped for. But has a big picture election become impossible? We may find out Nov. 6.


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