Politics focuses on family

By Anita Doberman: CNJ columnist

It seems that parenting has become a hot ticket when it comes to politics. This has always been the case in one way or another.

A single candidate has always been viewed with suspicion, even by single voters, and having children has always been a basic credential. Fair or not, those were the unwritten rules.

This remained the case even as the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s brought a critical eye to traditional families, especially large ones, and as more and more women entered the work force. It may have been fashionable to talk about the freedom of childlessness and the limitations of “Leave It to Beaver”-style married life, but the basic demographic demands we made on our elected officials remained the same.

Now though, it’s not enough to simply have a family, it has to be central to the campaign, even as candidates deny they would ever use them to their advantage, and both parties feature women who seemingly can do it all. To a certain extent this is inevitable, because when someone runs for office his or her private life become public, so why not use it to the maximum possible benefit?

Still, this year feels unique. Michelle Obama, a self-made lawyer and career professional, has to tone down her own successes and play up her motherhood. There’s no doubt she loves her kids and has sacrificed for them, but you’re not likely to hear her talking about her work experience, which has clearly been a major part of who she is. Instead, you’ll hear her talking about bedtimes and her husbands support for regular families. It’s pretty clear no one thinks the party will earn votes impressing voters with her intellect and professional accomplishments; what the voters want is a mom.

The Republican response has been a female VP candidate.