If I ever run for political office you have my permission to use this post as proof of my first official “flip-flop.” Yes, I’m going to break away from my self-imposed rule of ‘no political discussions’ to discuss some politics.
This year I have found myself following many of the key issues that are being discussed this election season. Yet I have discovered this to be an especially difficult task. See, I have always been very passionate and opinionated about certain issues – but politics? Not me, I’m an issues-only gal. And this year I have had to wade through plenty of garbage (i.e. politics) to get to the actual issues.
One of the most common examples of “politics taking center stage” concerns people questioning Sarah Palin’s decision to run for VP because she’s a mother of five children.
I don’t think that’s a valid or justifiable reason not to vote for her or any other mother running for office.
It seems to me that many voters are falling victim to a media cycle that doesn’t focus on the real issues. Instead we spend time thinking about things like: Who cooks dinner in the Palin household? Will Sarah Palin be able to make it to every doctor appointment for her son? Exactly why is that relevant to Palin as a VP candidate?
Many question Palin’s “pro family values” stance and wonder if she is really “walking the walk.” Questions swirl around asking: Can you still be pro family and work outside the home? What about the kids? What about Trig and all of his “special needs?” Is it different for a mom, or just a Christian conservative mom? Can a woman really “do it all?”
I have to admit that initially I was skeptical and asked these questions myself.
As governor and even before, Palin was adept at balancing family and work. Palin not only “talked the talk,” but in almost all aspects of her family life she and her husband have “walked the walk.” No one questioned her role as Governor and mom until just one month ago. Yes, she returned to work just days after giving birth to Trig, but he accompanied her. She breast-fed her newborn and carried him around in a sling while at work and at meetings. He slept in a portable crib next to her desk. To me these actions clearly reflect a mother that is present and actively involved in her child’s life. Palin seems to have embraced her role as a mother. She doesn’t hide her children or view them as inconveniences.
Obviously, Palin’s role as mother may change as a VP candidate, but can’t a father take over many of the caregiver roles just as effectively?
That brings me to the next point. Is the argument that women should just stay home? Or is it just that conservative women should stay home?
Michelle and Barack Obama both work full time and have two small children.
The Obama’s have Michelle’s mother watch after their two children full-time. It seems that they chose a caregiver that is best for their children and family situation. In no way do I think that this reflects poorly on them, or would categorize them as un-fit parents. And yet, I don’t hear any arguments as to why either Michelle (who works full time when not campaigning) or Barack doesn’t stay at home with their daughters. Does this mean that the Obama’s aren’t “pro family” or that they think the task of raising two children isn’t important? I’m certain they would argue quite the opposite.
Why the double standard?
And what are “pro family” values? Can you still be “pro family” and have both parents working outside the home? I’m quite sure that there are millions of families that would answer “yes.”
What about those “special needs” for the youngest Palin? Without a doubt Palin will miss many therapy appointments for her son, but my guess is that dad will be there. I consider our family to be “pro-family values” and yet Alex works full-time, sits on many community boards and has activities that keep him from home and cause him to miss Charlie’s many weekly therapy appointments. Instead, I’m the parent that is at all of Charlie’s physical therapy and doctor appointments. Does this mean that Alex is a neglectful parent, and that our family doesn’t have strong “pro-family” values?
You didn’t think I was going to avoid the other “big issue” did you? Do I think that Sarah is a “failure” as a mother because her daughter Bristol is pregnant? Absolutely not.
I know that as parents Alex and I are doing our best to raise our children to be strong individuals – upstanding citizens with Christian principles, who treat others with respect and give back to our society. As a parents we will help to guide and lead them, but I also recognize that our children are individuals and that they are ultimately the decision-makers in their own lives. Obviously the role of parent changes as the child grows and matures, but it is still the individual that makes his/her decisions in life.
What about Senator Joe Biden? Today he is celebrated for bravely accepting his Senate position. Yet at the time his two young sons remained injured in a hospital, and his wife and daughter had just passed away in a car accident. He was a single parent with two minor children and still chose to accept a demanding job in Washington.
And yet many continue to accuse Palin of abandoning her daughter.
Again, another double standard.
And the last big issue – Can women do it all? I believe that women can have it all, but are not necessarily doing it all.
Let’s be honest, all women are working women whether they work in or outside the home. We all have our trade-offs. I delegate the cleaning of our house to a cleaning lady so that I have free time to pursue other activities. Other women choose to delegate the cooking, dishes, and yard work. They replace it with tennis matches, business meetings, conferences, and volunteer work. Either way, I think a woman can still be a devoted wife and mother if she chooses to continue to stay connected to her children and husband. It seems that Sarah Palin has the energy, strength, and courage to be vice-president, while at the same time continuing to mother her children and be a loving wife.
Ultimately, we don’t know what goes on inside each family. But truly, Palin’s family life is not my business. It’s hers. And the same goes for the McCain’s, Obama’s or Biden’s. And if Palin says she’s ready, and she wants to serve her country, then it’s her decision.
I don’t spend my time worrying (or judging) if the Obama’s sit down to dinner every night as a family. Because that’s irrelevant to Obama’s presidential bid. But I do know where he stands/votes on certain issues. And from there, I can assume that those values are reflected back into in his family life. And to me that is relevant.
This much I know for sure – I have become very interested in this election. Not because of the politics – but because for the first time I have found a candidate that I can identify with. One that shares the same opinions on my personal “key issues.” Do I expect that everyone else will feel the same way? Nope. But I do hope that other voters take time to educate themselves on the issues at stake and spend less time focusing on the personal issues of the candidate’s private lives.