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Note to Current Crop of Politicians: Beware the SAHM Faction?

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(I must preface this post by reiterating that I am neither Democrat nor Republican. I have a history of voting both ways. In fact now hold the highest disdain for all politicians. This post is just an observation.)

Before yesterday, I had no idea who Hilary Rosen is. A few years ago, I decided to crawl back under my rock and devote whatever spare time I could muster to writing. Novels, not opinion. Even if I’m online, I rarely pay attention to flashes of news on my Yahoo!, AOL, or MSN pages. I’m equally blind to advertising and the Kardashians. I’m busy.

But with the blogosphere lighting up like the Fourth of July over statements Ms. Rosen made on national television, everyone in the world now knows who she is. Yes, I clicked. I read. Don’t we all rubberneck when an accident occurs?

Hilary Rosen is a modern, liberated, and loving woman, according to her partner. She’s a “gift” for the Republicans, according to the media. The most unusual suspects are defending her, including Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

To me, Hilary Rosen is the current scapegoat in the political landscape. Think of American politics as I do, as a game of t-ball. A six-year-old slams the ball hard into centerfield, and nine little kids run after it at the same time, bumping into each other and knocking each other out on the way. Meanwhile, the ball rolls under the fence and is just out of reach. Hilary Rosen is our ball-du-jour.

The resulting hoo-ha is what is to be expected, and more. From the tire marks on her back, Ms. Rosen has been effectively thrown under the bus. In addition to traversing the gap of political correctness, Ms. Rosen’s remarks (which I find unremarkable, as they are her opinions, and she’s entitled to have them, and God forbid I ever become politically correct) may have offended a very large base of voters.

Politicians, take note: You don’t want to mess with Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs). Even temporarily. Even if it’s just a game of t-ball.

I am a mother, although, granted, my children are grown. I was not a SAHM, unless you count those three or four months immediately after giving birth as “staying” at home. I do not, and neither do die-hard SAHMs. Although I would have loved to have stayed at home full time, I had to work.

However, during the time my children were young, I’ve had the pleasure of many interactions with SAHMs. They’re the ones who take their children to a variety of mommy and child related activities. I know this, because I attempted to squeeze at least one such activity into my own children’s lives on a regular basis.

Some SAHMs are militantly so. They see their role of loving and nurturing mother as a full time job. A very serious full time job. The militant faction of SAHMs look down on those moms who work either because they have to or they want to. Even the part-timers, and I was part-time. They are especially critical of those who would want to work. “Why would you have kids if you’re going to put them into day care?” “Why have a day care raise your child?” “Why would you want to?” “Don’t you love your child?” Yes, I’ve heard all of these questions out of the die-hard SAHMs, and the tone of interrogation was less than friendly.

The majority of SAHMs are more open. Most of them have had jobs. They know how lucky they are to be able to stay at home, either because family finances allow it, or because they wiggle the family finances to allow it. For them, this labor of love is temporary, as they’ll be back in the work force as soon as the child goes to school full time.

All SAHMs hang together, no matter how fervently they feel about being at home. The ones I know are well-educated, although I know there are many who aren’t. Either way, SAHMs are very well-connected. They might not bring cash into the household, but they know all about finances. They happily exchange information on a variety of subjects. They point each other toward deals and helpful hints. They will close ranks and will rally against those who are viewed as enemies of their lifestyle.

The Rosen-Romney controversy could have been a SAHM catfight, the way the media is pushing it around. Ann Romney had the good grace to resist being pulled into the fray. But consider this: maybe Ann Romney reacted in the way she did because she is more than a SAHM.

Politicians (and pundits) should not view the SAHM faction as a benign group of sub-standard human beings just because they choose to devote their time to raising their offspring. These women have more power than you think. They’re not stupid. Hey. Maybe politicians should view SAHMs as people, not as a voting block. What a novel idea.

And while the current hullabaloo makes for amusing albeit temporary copy, what affects most Americans is not whether you stay at home or not can be summed up in four words:

It’s the economy, stupid.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Ann Romney’s understated reaction to that particular piece of verbal diarrhoea was wise. The wife of a presidential candidate plainly and simply cannot be a stay-at-home mum: had she chosen to go on the warpath she would quickly have discovered that it was clogged with brambles.

    Nice point about whether SAHMs ought to be regarded as human beings rather than 1s and 0s in a voting machine, but something of an unrealistic expectation when candidates and strategists are dealing with tens of millions of people. Even heads of state are only capable of having meaningful interactions with a few hundred people. So you kind of have to approach the electorate at large as statistics rather than individuals.

    That said, if you don’t handle your statistics properly you run the risk of bollocksing things up royally.

    I watched a similar discussion on Laurence O’Donnell last night on MSNBC. They were talking about Romney’s hard stance on immigration alienating him from the Hispanic vote (which supposedly he needs a significant chunk of in order to win), and whether picking Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate might help him.

    They didn’t think it would, but nobody seemed to pick up on a couple of obvious reasons why it wouldn’t, such as the fact that the Hispanic population in the US is not some single homogeneous mass, and that Rubio is Cuban whereas most Latino immigrants are from Mexico and points south.