Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we've chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)
By Suzanne Venker
Like most girls, my 12-year-old daughter has dreams. She wants to be a writer, for one thing. She also loves animals and is concerned about the environment, so perhaps she'll focus her literary pursuits on those topics. More than anything, however, my daughter wants to get married and have a family. And she plans to stay home when that day comes.
It may sound strange to you that she's already thinking about this, but it's only because her mother writes a lot about this subject so she hears an earful on a regular basis. But really, my daughter is no different from most girls. Wanting to build a nest is a most natural female desire. Only in the past few decades has this goal been eschewed by our culture.
The modern woman is not raised to focus on marriage and motherhood. She's raised to focus exclusively on an education and career, as if these endeavors are the sole barometer of a successful life. But most women want to marry and should thus be supported and encouraged to do so. That's what I'm doing for my daughter. Unfortunately, America is not.
Indeed, President Obama isn't the least bit interested in policies that strengthen marriage or make it easier for mothers (or just parents in general) to stay home and take care of their children. His focus is on "empowering" women by helping them live lives independent of men and the traditional family. Referring to women's ability to make their own healthcare decisions, Obama said during a campaign event in Colorado that Romney wants to "take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century."
The implication is that women in the fifties were an oppressed bunch. Not only were wives caged in their homes, women were forced to bear children they didn't want. The President even said in 2008 that if his daughters made a "mistake," he wouldn't want them to be "punished with a baby." To be truly empowered, women must be liberated from the home. Domesticity undermines female empowerment.
Which is why Obama and his team have come up with a new plan for women — one that supplants the need for marriage. In a strange attempt to woo female voters, Obama presents "The Life of Julia," a timeline of sorts that demonstrates how Obama's policies help women throughout the course of their lifetimes, and how a vote for Mitt Romney would change women's trajectory.
"The Life of Julia" is a fantastic illustration of the point I made in my last post about Obama's commitment to the "it takes a village" mantra. It offers cradle to grave entitlements for every phase of a woman's life, from childcare through retirement. In Obama's pretend world, he — not husbands or the family unit — provides women with the opportunity for a good life.
What does this good life look like? At age three, Julia enrolls in a Head Start program so she can join "thousands of students across the country who will start kindergarten ready to learn and succeed." After all, everyone knows proper childrearing requires professionals. If children aren't exposed to "early childhood education," the child is at a distinct loss when entering kindergarten.
That the Head Start initiative has done next to nothing to improve elementary education is beside the point. According to the executive summary of Head Start Research (July 2010), "the advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of first grade for the sample as a whole." Facts like these are ignored because the assumption is that Head Start is a good thing and gives children a leg up in preparation for kindergarten.
Jump to age 18, and Julia's family becomes eligible for the Opportunity Tax Credit. The government wants to pay for Julia to go to college because everyone's entitled to a college degree and should pursue one. That America is in desperate need of folks who've mastered a blue-collar trade is irrelevant. According to the Obama administration, to be a "someone" you have to go to college.
And during college, women are never encouraged to plan for, or even think about, marriage and motherhood and how this desire will factor in to a woman's career goals. Indeed, the traditional family is so reviled by this administration that in "The Life of Julia" Julia never marries. There is no wedding and no husband in Julia's life.
But don't worry — that doesn't mean Julia can't satiate her maternal desire. At the age of twenty-seven, she simply "decides" to have a child. And throughout her pregnancy (we're given no information on how Julia gets pregnant because, naturally, that isn't relevant), Julia benefits from "maternal checkups, prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform." Who needs hubby's health care benefits when Obama's in office?
Interestingly, Julia's story omits what happens between the years her baby is born and the year he or she starts kindergarten. Who will rock the cradle when Julia's at work? And what if Julia decides she wants to stay home with her baby? Oops, too bad. No hubby, no choice.
The message to women is clear. Under an Obama presidency, women are "liberated" from home, husbands, and children. As cultural commentator Heather MacDonald wrote, "The single mother has become the cornerstone of Democratic politics."
Indeed she has — "The Life of Julia" is proof of that.
Now all Mitt Romney needs is a campaign strategy showing the ways in which the federal government can strengthen marriage.
For starters, we need more policies like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by Bill Clinton. It doesn't just protect state marriage laws, it protects the 1,138 federal laws that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says depend on the traditional definition of marriage.
The marriage penalty, on the other hand, should be eliminated. Married couples shouldn't have to pay higher taxes than single people and cohabiting couples do.
Finally, I'd like to see at-home mothers get the same tax break working mothers do. The child-care tax credit offers parents a federal tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of daycare, which essentially awards mothers for not staying home with their children. It should be the reverse.
If it were, my daughter would feel support from someone other than me.