Politically both sides the GOP and democrats are courting the all coveted women’s vote, the GOP trying to close a double digit point gap against Obama for their votes and possibly the election after both campaign and other republican missteps causing women to shy away. Hints why presidential candidate Mitt Romney is showcasing his wife Ann and likewise why there was a fire storm this past week as Mrs. Romney was invoked by her husband saying what he heard from his wife is that the paramount issue concerning women today is the economy. Enter democratic insider Hilary Rosen who shortly after analyzed the comments saying in part, Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life; almost immediately affiliates like Fox News and social media were abuzz with new outbreaks of the so called mommy wars. Some women stating that being a stay at home mom, raising 5 children, certainly is work; others, regardless of whether they work outside the home, were calling for America to respect whatever choice women make. Still others point to her ongoing battles with MS, her history of breast cancer as well as her presence, contribution on the campaign trail as proof she is worthy to speak to women’s issues. Facing increased pressure, Rosen eventually apologized, saying in part her words were poorly chosen and she knows raising children is hard work. The problem, this is a non-controversy detracting from the real substantive conversation about the economy, women in the economy and how we bring jobs back to our nation. It disregards the truth Rosen was trying to present once again about candidate Romney’s understanding of what people need, what people are concerned about, seeing as he is part of the top 1%.
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Her comments had nothing to do with the debate, the clash between working women and stay at home moms; this is not a question of whether or not we should respect women’s choice to either stay home or go back to work after having a child. Her comments were addressing an issue that has plagued the Romney campaign from the beginning, relatability, connection with voters, with the American people. She was pointing out how ridiculous Romney looked trying to use his wife as a conduit to women voters, when she has never worked a job, never had the stress of a demanding boss, never sat next to her husband and wondered how they were going to afford basics like food, Jonny’s new shoes or school supplies and the daycare for their smaller child that allows both parents to work so they can pay the mortgage, more likely rent on an apartment. She has never had to worry about taking her kids to the doctor, what if they get sick, because she can afford health insurance premiums. People mention Mrs. Romney’s health battles; fact is she got the best care because she could afford it in second and third opinions, in simply being able to pay for the treatments required. Taking into account the depth of the Romney wealth, she could probably receive alternative treatments, possibly flying to other countries to undergo procedures, therapies, if necessary, similar to the way well known celebrities have done. How does that compare to just your average person, forget family? All Ann Romney supporters ask yourself the following questions: how can she understand the economic struggles, financial burdens of average families being married to a husband who literally makes millions of dollars, when they agonize over the things above?
On the subject of parenting how can she sympathize, empathize or comprehend that aching tug moms feel when they have to work and don’t get to spend as much time as they would like with their kids; she has no idea what it is to balance an 8-12-14 hour work day alongside engaging in quality time with your children. In fact one of Hilary Rosen’s subsequent comments was she (Ann Romney) had the luxury of staying home; many women don’t have that choice, they have to work both in the home and outside of it. Lots of people would go beyond that saying she had the luxury of having 5 kids in the first place, minus the worry of how to afford moving to a bigger house, apartment, where they going to put an additional person; she had 5 kids knowing she could keep them clothed and fed. On that same track, Mrs. Romney could afford to hire a nanny if needed, regardless of if she ever did, knowledge that can greatly ease the stress of parenthood, just knowing you can get help if you need it. Considering their faith, they may have more extended family to aid in babysitting, an extra pair of hands to help out once or twice a week, especially when they are small vs. a young couple just starting out who possess no living relatives. Another thing faith brings, a church family that could provide similar help vs. non-religious people or those who prefer not to attend church, who don’t have access to free help outside of some kind of distained government program. All that aside, the Romney’s could pay for a babysitter should they want to go out for a romantic evening, celebrate an anniversary or just have an adult conversation between the two of them. Actions key in preventing divorce, causing you to be a better parent because you can get away from them from time to time, your kids don’t become your life, you still entertain hobbies and interests. Whereas most moms raising families today hardly stop to notice they are having a heart attack, according to a new PSA, a frenzied reality for millions of American moms doing it all, a reality Anne Romney has no frame of reference to understand.
Further the Romney children at least had the option to attend private school for their enrichment, not to be in a school absent violence; neither was the parental influence diminished in their lives by 2 parents working a total of 4 jobs in order to pay tuition so they could get a quality education, struggling to pay a higher rent/mortgage in a neighborhood with no violence, decent schools like so many average families. Nor was this a household where those same parents worked the same number of jobs to try and put one or two kids through college, never mind 5, are attempting to pay off their own student loans so they can create a college fund. The Romney’s aren’t, and never were, like thousands of Americans are at this very moment, working low wage jobs despite their educations, people who might pay off their student loans by the time their oldest is ready for college, meaning no college for their offspring. Contrastingly attending a private school helps you get into college; the Romney’s, could, independent of if they did or will, use their name, connections, political and otherwise to ensure their children get into a top school, later on provide them with the opportunity for a good job via the people they know, vs. run of the mill families where the child may be the first one to get accepted to college, to achieve grades good enough to go, to not be derailed by life tragedies and circumstances forcing them to get a full time job rather than continue to higher learning. Thus demonstrating a world of privilege passed onto their children few will ever know. Not for the first time it begs the question, are these the people we want running our country; is Ann Romney, her experiences what we want whispering in her husband’s ear on major decisions effecting our country?
Even in average middle class families where one parent, the mother chooses to stay home, like any change in income toward the negative, it is a sacrifice. They may do less things as a family, particularly anything that costs money. Children who weren’t getting a lot to begin with end up with fewer possessions on occasions like Christmas; plain notebooks for school instead of Spider Man or Dora, plain shoes that cost less, owning to less money. Our stay at home mom or dad will become a coupon clipper, assuming they weren’t already, to compensate for the missing income present before the birth of their first or latest child. After a parent begins to stay home there is an inevitable disconnect between the couple; the working parent, often dad, doesn’t understand why the house isn’t clean, the laundry isn’t folded, dinner isn’t cooked and why his wife is asking for help with household chores, not just watch the baby or change a diaper. Simultaneously the stay a home mom is left constantly trying to impress upon him the time it takes to get the kids off to school in the morning plus care for a newborn, explain the difficulty in keeping up with the feeding, dressing bathing, bottle washing required for a new born, a situation compounded if you are a first time mom. Said dynamics impacting the children hearing arguments about who does what, about money, about who contributes more to the family. Arguments no doubt had with far less frequency in the Romney household, partly aided by their faith, strong adherence to traditional values were, if at all possible a mother’s place is in the home. But moving away from religion, they aren’t arguing about money because they have plenty, similar to the childcare help, she can hire a maid if needed, enlist friends help managing her household; option one once more facilitated by their wealth. And again just knowing you have that option can do wonders for your stress level. More defusing of possible tensions comes from the source of Romney’s income, investments, rental properties, avenues translating into increased flexibility in job hours than a standard 8:00-5:00, making him more available to his family. Over and over the question remains where are the relatable connections to ordinary people, whether your Mitt or Mrs. Romney?
Hillary Rosen shouldn’t have to apologize because she does not currently work for the White House, work for the Obama reelection campaign; it was actually the Romney camp who misidentified her, in statements to media outlets, as an Obama adviser. Yes she is a democratic insider privy to the goings on, inner workings of the Democratic Party, all democrats not just the president, something that also means she retains her autonomy, her freedom of speech is still intact regardless of the fickle, take it the wrong way media, and she is free to speak her mind on any issue. Shockingly, despite opinions, Rosen is not to blame for the perceived attack on Ann Romney; no, that goes to her husband who never should have put her in that position, who never should have phased his statements about his wife the way he did; all this democratic commentator did was talk about a flaw that was already there. The Romney campaign would have been far better off hiring an expert on women’s issues, asking fellow women republicans to speak at rallies and campaign stops than putting someone up there they had to know would be targeted, for their lack of work history, appearing to live an rich women’s life, moves had he put them into practice, would make him seem far more genuine. Next, her attack was not against Ann Romney not working outside the home, trying to paint her as some kind of lazy, lay about, degenerate human being because, solely because, she chose to be a stay at home mom; continuing, no one is belittling her health struggles, attempting to denigrate her contributions to the campaign or society. Rosen’s “attack,” better known as analysis, was aimed at candidate Mitt Romney appropriately pointing out how silly he looks trotting his wife out to the public as his expert, his example on women, when realistically her experiences are nothing close to the majority of women, never having held a job, never having had to juggle work and family, never having sat up nights wondering how they were going to pay this or that bill. Further she is married, had that partner support throughout raising all her kids unlike so many divorced women, people who fled domestic violence, single parents who tried to create the American ideal but ended up with a dead beat man who wasn’t ready for marriage, won’t pay child support, doesn’t see his kids, mothers widowed by our two modern wars. Instead Mrs. Romney has spent most of her adult life a woman of means beside her husband as he made more and more money. Note as well Ann Romney on outlets like Fox News clearly taking full advantage of the situation saying she chose to be a stay at home mom, contributing to the “mommy wars” as opposed to standing up for the real point everyone knew Rosen was getting at and either selling her/their relatability to the American people or explaining how their lack or relatability can aid our nation in terms of creating jobs, changing the tax code and so forth.
Lastly Hilary Rosen shouldn’t have been forced by media exposure, public reaction to apologize because above all else she told the truth; in actuality her 3-4 sentences only revealing a fraction of the truths detailed here, showcasing exactly how unrelatable Mrs. Romney too appears beside ordinary people. And honestly she lost some of the potency of her argument and her power by doing so. At the same time, it’s a sad day in America when stay at home moms are so defensive, so quick to venerate their lifestyle, they miss such an obvious point, fall for such antics. Meanwhile in their first co-interview candidate Romney said, regarding this very question, we don’t separate the American people based on success. No but when we elect a commander and chief, he should be capable of relating to, understanding the majority of the people he serves, something he has all but proven he can’t do and now his wife is proving the same. Why is that important, just look at the problems, conundrums facing our country; just look at the hotly contested topics effecting women, effecting everyone. Presumptive nominee Romney’s answers only taken from the interview, lead people to believe he is going to support policies that conjunctively also support his lifestyle, things like extending the Bush tax cuts, republicans in congress already voted down the Buffet rule, making millionaires pay the at least the same tax rate as everyday people, that he’s going to deregulate business and Wall Street, undoing all the work by President Obama has done trying to stave off conditions ripe for another great recession, trying to bring back some common sense rules and fairness to business. Now candidate Romney will say this is to spur job growth, calm panicked business people, investors, he’ll make it seem like envious people less willing to work hard are attacking success. Far from it because if you look at things like the president’s jobs bill voted down over and over again, even after trying to pass it in parts, parts that would have meant keeping state workers teachers, police, fire fighters on the job, aiding the cities they live in. Then looking outside the candidate to the rest of the GOP, the Paul Ryan budget looking to cut food stamps in order to deal with the deficit, talk of eliminating the department of education, defunding HUD (housing and urban development, that subsidizes housing, among other things, to get out fiscal house in order like always going after the poor, the vulnerable rather than trimming waste; nearly all of which Mitt Romney seems to agree with. We need a next, a future commander and chief who serves the 99 not the 1 percent.
Focusing on issues surrounding women, in which Mrs. Romney should shine; yes Ann Romney had 5 kids, yet had she at any point decided to stop having kids and still have sex with her husband, she would have been able to easily afford her birth control because of their financial means. Never having held a job, she wouldn’t have been subject to the religious compunctions of her employer possibly refusing to pay for it; again because of their means, the employer refusal would have mattered less. Similarly had she chosen to take birth control and needed a specialized kind, due to her health history, $1,200 a month is an inconvenience to her vs. an impossibility to the rest of us, without insurance. BarackObama will carry the votes of many women and others because he’s trying to give full coverage of healthcare, not take away their birth control, not force them to submit to a trans-vaginal ultrasound for an abortion the woman probably doesn’t want but needs to have, medically, because he’s not attempting to limit the type of prenatal care women receive based on some arcane belief that procedures like the amniocenteses leads to abortions. He will probably carry the votes of somewhat older Americans, the disabled, the poor because he’s not trying to dismantle Medicare, change it for people in their late 40’s early 50’s who might not have the coverage they thought they would after paying in all this time, he doesn’t think stripping struggling people of food stamps, many on it for the first time previously working all their life, conducive to bringing America back. He doesn’t think these collective measures are effective ways to deal with our nation’s debt, just one more reason BarackObama has my vote in November. And finally we don’t support punishing people for telling the truth in this country, no matter how unpopular, regardless of how much people don’t want to hear it; we should in fact be apologizing to Hilary Rosen for scorning someone trying to bring so sanity to an insane political election cycle.
For more on real, pressing women’s issues view this round table discussion about things like flex time in the workplace, equal pay for equal work, access to healthcare. Listen as these influential political women take apart the nominee candidates assertion 92% of the jobs lost in the recession, on Obama’s watch were those held by women; they accurately proclaim that is repeatedly in states with republican governors slashing state budgets thus eliminating teachers, librarians, nurses job fields dominated by what, women.