Conventional wisdom holds that in polite company it is best to avoid talking about politics, religion, or money, or you are apt to offend someone.
I’d probably add parenting philosophy to that list as well.
But this is an election year (which is anything but polite), so that means conventional wisdom is suspended to make way for the political conventions, debates, sound bites and ad campaigns that position all of these taboo topics center stage.
In an election year family values becomes an especially loaded topic. The candidates try to show themselves, by way of their spouses and families, as simultaneously "just like us," as well as aspirational figures.
Like most political posturing, “just like us” resonates to wildly varying degrees depending on the demographic.
Janice D’Arcy in one of her recent Washington Post On Parenting columns made some interesting points when she called out both parties for their political campaign conceits showing their relatable family values in action.
She observed that both campaigns like to show how their families are just like our families—they have chores, and take pains to show how they raise them with values “regardless of, even despite, their vast wealth.”
But, D’Arcy observes, are they really just like us?
“These parents do seem to be like us in many ways. They appear to be devoted to their families and committed to raising responsible kids and grandkids. The real difference between them and the vast majority of us is that they have been able to provide their children boundless opportunities and educations. Why pretend otherwise?” Janice D'Arcy, The Washington Post 8/28/2012
To her point, a more accurate “just like us” message for many American families would include showing the multiple checks written, and the endless necessary annoyances of fundraiser after fundraiser to provide for basic programs, like science, that wouldn’t be offered at all, or nearly as well, if parents didn’t pick up the tab.
This is the reality in the affluent communities of the San Ramon Valley, a place where there is a greater probability of the candidates finding families that indeed look just like their own, who are more able to provide superior educations and endless enrichment activities. How much worse is it elsewhere where providing paper for the classroom isn’t a given?
Are the candidates adequately showing how they are addressing the issues that, unlike the majority of us, they do not face?
This week in Parent Chat we’d like to hear from you about how effectively or ineffectively the Obama and Romney campaigns are resonating with you as a parent, with the things that concern you, and with the things your family values?
Also, weigh in on how candidates in our local races are performing by this measure?