Let me preface this post by saying I think of myself as an average suburban mom. I am a democrat, which is unusual in the republican stronghold where I live. I have an ivy-league education, and my own podcast about education issues. I am sure some of my “demographics” put me outside of the main stream, but for the purposes of this post, let’s assume I am average.
I had my doubts about Bill Clinton when he first ran. But he was a great president. Yes, he had a charisma problem- too much and it got him into trouble. He believed his own hype and appeal, and regardless of how you spin in, he took advantage of a young girl and he should have known better. I still don’t think it was any of our business, though.
Bill Clinton always seemed to be speaking from the heart, and found his authentic voice. Even if the words were written by a speech writer, Bill had a way of making them his own. He never sounded forced or insincere. Barack Obama shares this same oratorical gift- the ability to deliver a speech that touches or emotions, not just because of the artful way the words and alliteration are constructed, but because it is pretty clear he believes everything he says.
Hillary Clinton is an amazing woman, who has worked for years for organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund. She is a public-spirited politician, and I believe she works hard for her constituency. Her policy positions and those of Barack Obama are almost identical- so why is she having problems on the campaign trail? For all her strengths, she has one big problem- she uses her “stage” voice and not her own voice when speaking to the crowd.
Hillary has been trying to be one of the guys for so long, to avoid playing the politics of gender, she’s forgotten the advantage she has over all the other candidates- she’s a mom.
The Mom Card
Hillary is a mom. She knows what it’s like to hold the hand of a small child, and the joy this brings to your heart. She’s gotten up in the middle of the night when Chelsea was sick, worried to death, and yet bone tired herself. She’s changed diapers and been thrown-up on. It’s not glamourous, but it’s real. And no Mom who has spent time wondering whether the germs from the sick side of the pediatrician’s office were going to infect her kid, there only for a checkup, (ultimately causing her to lose even more time at work) takes health care for granted.
Granted the Clintons have only one child. I have said from time to time that Bill Cosby is right- you’re only really a parent when you have two kids, because with one, you always know who did “it” in the house, and the joys of mediating sibling disputes is not something you fully understand. Yet negotiating bed times with even one child better prepares mothers for negotiating Mid-east peace than most Dads on the planet. As a friend of mine said in law school- “I knew I could ace my mediation and negotiation final, because I live this every day with my five year old.”
The men in the campaign have succeeded in making Hillary play their game, rather than playing her own, where she makes up and negotiates the rules. Boys respect their moms, but resent them at times as well. We hold the ultimate guilt card- we gave them life. They can’t one-up that one, ever.
So by making Hillary one of the guys, they never let her deal with her most powerful asset- her gender.
Men don’t want to be seen beating up on a woman, even metaphorically. So what the “guys” have managed to do is get Hillary to play their game. If Hillary wants to win, (and it may be too late) she needs to find her authentic voice, her own voice, and that is a woman’s voice. She can’t hide the fact that she’s a girl, and she shouldn’t try to. She needs to be herself. The lack of speakng from her heart is what has hurt her, nothing else.
Women in Charge, from Morning until Night
Women do the bulk of the raising of children in this Country- not just in the roles of moms, but in education as well. For example:
- At both of my children’s schools, the clear majority of the faculty and staff are women.
- The Parent-teacher organizations are full of women, with very few men involved.
- My sons live in a world where women have been telling them what to do from the moment they get up in the morning, until they go to bed since they were born. From being woken up by me in the morning, to my pleas of personal hygiene and wishes for sweet dreams at night, I am their clock and drill sargeant.
- My husband is actively involved with our kids, but the bulk of the “maintenance” work is mine. From buying them clothes, to getting them dressed and to school on time, to feeding them something that resembles nutrition day to day, to going to bat for them with teachers at school- that’s largely my job.
- Once at school, another batch of surrogate Moms ensure they learn to read, write and perform academically. These women help shape my son’s ideas of what women are as much as I do at home.
We try to ignore the fact that women are different and have a different perspective on life, but we do. We feel vulnerable walking alone at night the way most guys never will. We tend to be more in touch with our emotions, but that doesn’t make us weak and all “emotional”- it makes us strong, because we understand why people feel and act as they do. Women are the emotional caretakers in this world, and I worry more about some super-analytical, “get-even”, “mine is bigger than yours” kind of guy in charge of this Country that I worry about an overly emotional woman in charge.
Margaret Thatcher certainly was never a weepy mess- we need to consider that a woman in office in this Country wouldn’t be a push-over, either. While women may be more in touch with their emotions, we are not stupid because of it.
I honestly think mothers would think more carefully before sending someone else’s child into war. I think women have an opportunity to bring compassion and reality into politics. Moms don’t try to make everyone happy- we try to get everyone what they need, not what they want. We don’t crumble when someone says “That’s not fair”- instead, we say “There is a difference between fair and equal- let me show you what that means.”
Hillary could be amazing if she could stop being afraid of being a woman and a Mom. Tell the pundits to go stuff it- She should be proud of who she is, and her experiences as a mom will help make her a great president, if she can only talk about it, rather than hide it.