Michelle Obama speech: Adds Dad to Ann Romney’s tired mom
Michelle Obama and Ann Romney speeches: Agreement that moms are tired on both sides of the aisle. GOP equates parenting with mothering; Democrats seem to see parenting issues as family issues – with Dad just as tired as Mom.
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It would be too simplistic to label this as a “mommy wars” issue, although Obama’s reference to specific policies certainly contrasted to Romney’s assertion that she didn’t want to talk about politics, but about love. Look at what each speech included, and did not include, and one can perhaps glimpse contrasting ways of looking at the world – or at least the relationship between moms and dads, dads and kids, young women and current events, work and home.Skip to next paragraph
is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..
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While both sides talked much about parenting, one might argue – no value judgement here, folks – that the GOP tended to equate that with “mothering,” and “women’s issues” with “mom’s issues.” The Dems seemed to give more weight to both parents, and present all of those questions of financial aid and work and child care as family issues.
All the political pundits say that women are a key constituency in this presidential election. Both sides are courting those voters; the GOP lined up the best and most powerful of their female figures to give keynote speeches; the Democrats reiterated their claim that the Republicans are waging a “War on Women.”
But rhetoric is different than policy. After Romenys’ speech, we wrote about a few policy topics – child care, maternity leave, and pay equality – that might be important to the sought-after mom voter. Here, after Obama's, are a couple more:
Family/paternity leave. Last week we mentioned maternity leave, and how the US is one of the only countries in the world where the government does not provide or mandate some sort of paid leave for mom after she has a baby. But what about dad? The US Family and Medical Leave Act allows “eligible” employees – male or female – to take 12 weeks unpaid leave after the birth of a child. But only about half of the US labor force is covered by this legislation, according to the US Department of Labor. Should there be a government effort to allow fathers secure time off work for family time, or is this a mom issue? Or a private concern all together?
Family planning. Ah, the contraception debate. This one has turned out to be big this campaign. A component of the new health care law requires all employers except religious ones to provide its employees birth-control services; an amendment sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt, R of Missouri, would allow any US employer to deny contraceptive health coverage to employees based on religious or moral objections. Mitt Romney has said he supports the amendment. This topic has gotten all sorts of emotional, with some Roman Catholic schools and hospitals saying the health care law infringes on religious freedom, and with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh calling Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying in support of the policy.
So, should women have the right to access contraception as if it were any other type of health care service? Or is it simply not the government’s role to ensure that its citizens have access to this sort of family planning?
More policy questions as the campaign continues.