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Because the current state of affairs in the USA (and even the world) has so many mothers of young children filled with dismay, and has triggered deep concern for their children's future, more women of young children are running for political office - in a surge of Democratic candidates.
In the past, women have waited until their children were older and could fend for themselves before running for political office - that is if they chose to run at all. The United States has few helpful social supports for working families, and in the past it has been seen as a barrier to political office for women to have young children, since so many women are expected to manage the majority of responsibilities in the home.
But now, that seems to be changing since Trump was elected and the Republicans have held the majority in both houses. Rallying rhetoric includes women's disgust with lack of affordable health care and gun control, education's decline, and lack of concern for kids with disabilities.
According to the author of the following piece, "Motherhood in this midterm season is not just a credential for public office, it's a potent weapon."
By SUSAN CHIRA (edited for length)
The symbols of motherhood in American political life have long been comforting and predictable: a gauzy family tableau in campaign ads, with smiling kids gathering for a meal. The ads were meant to disarm voters, to show them that women were running for office to take care of people. It wasn’t about personal ambition — it was about serving others, the way a mom would.
That’s not the motherhood of 2018 political ads. Motherhood in this midterm season is not just a credential for public office. It’s a potent weapon.
Several Democratic candidates tell wrenching stories of their sick children, explaining that the prospect of losing their health insurance had prompted the candidates to run for office. At least two women running for governor, in Wisconsin and Maryland, introduced themselves to voters with scenes of them breast-feeding. And Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who on Monday became the first senator to give birth while in office, has been pressing to change a Senate prohibition on bringing children onto the floor, which could impede a breast-feeding mother’s voting.
A few women with very young children have decided to run, despite research suggesting that voters can be uneasy about how female candidates with young children will juggle public and private duties. Instead, these candidates are proclaiming that their expertise with multitasking equips them to cut through gridlock.
Health care is a rallying cry, particularly among Democratic candidates. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, running for Congress in Illinois, told the story of her son Jack’s battle with a life-threatening illness. He was placed in a coma, and doctors warned that he could emerge with brain damage. Although he fully recovered, Ms. Londrigan said she decided to run for office when the House passed its attempted repeal of Obamacare in May and she watched her congressman at a triumphant appearance with President Trump. “Seeing them celebrate taking health care away from people — it was like a knife to the heart,” she said.
Several candidates who are mothers cite fears for their children as the root of their support or opposition to gun control. Kelda Roys, who is running in a crowded primary for governor of Wisconsin, described picking up her daughter at preschool and hearing about how she had to hide and be very quiet. Her 3-year-old was describing an active-shooter drill.
Women running for office in both parties have long used their status as mothers to explain their policy stances. Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican senator from New Hampshire, ran an ad that cited her children as a reason to cut wasteful spending, said Kelly Dittmar, a political scientist at the Center for American Women and Politics. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, who gave birth to three children while in Congress, cited her son’s Down syndrome to object to those who would abort fetuses with the condition.
By and large, though, Republican portraits of motherhood have tended to be more traditional, Ms. Dittmar said.
By contrast, this newest group of Democratic candidates seems more outspoken and unconventional. They do not appear to be concerned about research suggesting that motherhood should be conveyed in safe doses — some pictures of the children but not too many lest voters doubt women’s credentials.
Continue Reading https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/sunday-review/m...