She's a Mom, But Where Does She Stand?
by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
Did you see that?! A mom on center stage at the Republican convention accepting the Vice Presidential nomination and holding a baby.
There are too few mothers in the boardrooms and high levels of political office, and we need more of them. In fact, women comprise only 16% of Congress (the U.S. ranks a world low of 71st in women's representation in national legislatures--below Pakistan, Italy, Bolivia, Rwanda, Argentina, France, China, Canada, and 63 other countries). And, women hold only 6.7% of top-paying positions in Fortune 500 countries. A measly 6.7%!
Obviously, more women need to be seated in the highest offices. That's something that most of us can agree on.
But while it was good to see a woman on center stage accepting the Vice Presidential nomination (for only the second time in the history of our nation), I didn't hear much in Gov. Palin's acceptance speech--or since--about what she, and her running mate Sen. McCain, will do about the issues which impact the 83 million mothers in our nation each and every day.
This mom wants to know: Where does Gov. Palin stand? Where does she stand on issues which are important to mothers like healthcare, fair pay, paid family and medical leave, afterschool programs, childcare/early learning, paid sick days, and flexible work options.
Whether you are a mother, or have a mother, the moms of our nation expect every candidate to tackle the shared issues of our nation's families. We also know full well from decades of stalled family-friendly legislation that just because someone is a mom (or has a mom) doesn't mean they automatically support the policies which are central to the economic security of mothers and families.
As the candidate debates draw near, and with an election that's neck-and-neck in the polls, now's the time to ask candidates to share their positions on critical issues. Let's demand that the national political discussion is one of substance while this nomination is a hot topic in coffee shops, at water coolers, and around dinner tables across the nation.
Let's change the conversation. The conversation shouldn't be about how many kids Gov. Palin has, which is essentially unchecked gender bias, it should be about the issues--and where she stands on them. After all, we've had fathers in the White House for a couple hundred years and the mere fact of any of those male candidates having children has yet to be an election issue. Just to show how ridiculous this is: Why is it that everyone knows that Gov. Palin has five children, but few know how many children Sen. Biden has?
Right about now you might be wondering: Why don't we know where Gov. Palin stands, anyway? Isn't disclosing where you stand on issues so that voters can choose their candidate a big part of running for public office? Well, it's not a conspiracy that we don't know where Gov. Palin stands, but it's definitely a serious bout of opportunistic pessimism on the part of political campaign operatives.
Turns out that this lack of focus on issues right now isn't an accident. In fact, McCain campaign manager, Rick Davis, recently said, and I quote: "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."
In fact, the McCain campaign made an active decision not to have Gov. Palin do interviews with the national media right now. It seems they essentially want to avoid the issues--and to leave us just with that image of a woman on the stage, "a composite view" as Davis said, of sorts, as if the American public only needs a Technicolor picture to make decisions about the future direction of our country. It's downright insulting to voters.
To that point, here's a Fox News transcriptof the Sept. 7, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace" of a conversation between McCain campaign manager and Chris Wallace on the topic of keeping Gov. Palin out of interviews that went up today:
WALLACE: But let me move on to something else. Governor Palin has given some very good speeches this week, and I think everybody, Republican or Democrat, would say that she was very effective at the Republican convention.
She has not answered a single question from the national media. When is she going to agree to an interview?
DAVIS: She'll agree to an interview when we think it's time and when she feels comfortable doing it.
Voters know that this election really is about the issues--that it's not about some Technicolor "composite view" of candidates. These issues are as real to many of us as paying for rent, taking our children to the doctor, and putting food on the dinner table
Let's not let any candidate (or political campaign operative) forget that more than 50% of the electorate are women; and over 80% of women in our nation have children by the time they are forty-four. Suffice to say that moms pack a powerful political punch. It's time to come together and use that power to make sure our issues get the attention they deserve--for our children, for ourselves, and for the future economic security of our nation.
Join with me and MomsRising.org in sending an open letter to Gov. Palin asking where she stands now, and then moms in Alaska will deliver the letter with your signatures. Help put the pressure on for candidates to share their positions on the issues which impact our nation's families each and every day.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is a co-founder and Executive Director of MomsRising.org. She is co-author (with Joan Blades) of The Motherhood Manifesto, which makes the case that it's time for a broad change in America's support for mothers and families. The Motherhood Manifesto identifies and challenges the obstacles facing working mothers today, and proposes concrete solutions. In 2007, The Motherhood Manifesto book won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. Rowe-Finkbeiner is also author of The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy, which was awarded first place by the Independent Book Publishers Association in the category of Women's Issues.
MomsRising.org is an organization working to build a truly family-friendly nation. Started in May, 2006, MomsRising uses the power of online organizing in coordination with grassroots activities and media outreach to educate the public about problems facing American families and to propose common sense solutions. MomsRising.org provides citizens with an opportunity to amplify their voices and to take their concerns to leaders who are in positions to implement real changes.
Find us and join us at MomsRising.org.