Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ann Romney and being a "stay at home mom".

There's a lot of hoopla over Ms. Romney's statement that she chose to be a stay at home mom.

Politicians, like those running for President or any other office, are public servants. We vote them in. So they have to convince the majority of us, so to speak, to buy into their rhetoric. How do they do that?

Well, there are a variety of approaches. A common one is to convince the public their future is in danger of various dastardly events and then present yourself as the savior or solution. Then combine that savior image with the idea that you are just like your voters.

This latter half can be a more difficult challenge because it's hard to hide who you are. In the case of Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, they are very wealthy. There is nothing wrong with success or with wealth. The problem goes back to the idea that Mr. Romney is running to be a public servant. Does he understand the public and what we need from our leaders? That's the question.

So, when Ann steps forward and says she chose to be a stay at home mom to raise 5 boys while sitting by her husband, it is seen as part of a campaign, or "sales pitch" for the "we're just like you" part of the marketing strategy. It's her way of connecting to the women of this country and demonstrating herself as a traditional mom. But it's also a way of trying to demonstrate that she and her husband are a typical family, like the rest of us, and that this qualifies them to understand the "public" challenges and needs.

In my opinion, here is where the problem lies. Yes, she stayed at home and raised her beautiful boys. That is wonderful. I respect her choice. But does making this decision really make her just like every other woman who made this same choice? I don't think it does. She had the financial means to hire maids, nannies, chefs, etc. to help her so she could be freed up to do some things that fulfilled her. She has a wardrobe of beautiful evening wear that she actually had multiple occasions to enjoy. Spending a day at the spa to get a break and rejuvenate with girlfriends was easy. In other words, feeling the pressure of making her life work financially was not part of the equation. I doubt she clipped coupons. I doubt there was much concern regarding the cost of sending her boys to college. A trip to Disney World or anywhere else was just a matter of fitting it on the schedule.

Whether or not there's truth in the claim that Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake", a book I read put the statement into this context. A party was being held at the castle and a hungry, angry mob was at the gate. When she and the king were informed of their presence and the angry calls, she had a moment of compassion and suggested that they be given the pastries and such from their party. Obviously she meant well but she was clueless regarding their true plight.

So, if you hear the economic outlook from the Right side of the argument, it's dire. Is it as dire as it was in revolutionary France? It depends on which Fox pundit is speaking, perhaps. But I can't see much difference between the King and Queen of France and Mr. and Mrs. Romney. I absolutely do not believe they have a clue regarding the public they wish to serve.

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