Dads, Donkeys, and Pachyderms: The Politics of Fatherhood
February 29, 2012
by Shawn Bean
At some point in the past couple months, the economy, immigration and tax reform, social security, congressional earmarks, and the rest of America’s someone-fix-this-ASAP issues got pushed to the side. The hot election year topics are currently social issues related to family, marriage, sex, children, and parenthood. As a result, the president and the Republican primary candidates aren’t coming off as commanders-in-chief. They are coming off like, well, our dads.
It’s common for dads to have opinions about family-centric topics like sex and education. One of the dads running for president believes colleges are “indoctrination mills” where young co-eds go to lose their religion, and that America should be doing more to encourage faith studies. Some of the other dads running for president think contraception should not be funded by the federal government—we should be funding abstinence education instead.
Parenting skills have also been dragged into the public discourse. Speaking at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago, Florida senator Marco Rubio, believed to be a frontrunner as a Republican vice presidential candidate, said, “the president of the United States looks like a really good father… but he’s a terrible president.” How would you feel if a co-worker said, “[Your name here], you did a horrible job on that TPS report, but you play a mean game of pattycake.” Tell you what [co-worker’s name here], how about you tell me what I can do to be a better employee, not a better baker’s man.
I thought elections were for hiring big picture people for big picture jobs. You know, deploying the military, peace negotiations, protecting the borders, shrinking the $9.4 too-big-to-comprehendillion deficit, stuff like that. Us parents were sort of hoping you guys would focus on fixing those issues. Did you really put on a $2,000 suit and take millions from a super PAC so you could weigh in on the decisions happening at our kitchen tables? The guy next door who grills steaks in his jean shorts and Tevas can do that.
Inspired by this socially driven discourse, I took another look at the leader of the free world, and the men who want the job. I found myself looking past their executive or political pedigree. Instead, I saw their parental pedigree.
Mormon fathers. Lutheran fathers. Catholic fathers. Episcopalian fathers.
White fathers. Multiracial fathers.
Fathers of babies. Fathers of preschoolers. Fathers of tweens. Fathers of teenagers. Fathers of adults. Grandfathers, even.
Fathers of athletes. Fathers of disabled children.
Fathers who have been married. Fathers who have been married and divorced and married and divorced and married and divorced.
You know these guys. They’re friends of yours. You work with them. You’re related to them. Maybe you are them.
As you can see, the men who want to be president are fathers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. Just like us. But that’s my point: There’s already plenty of dads. My home doesn't need another dad. We need a president. Leave the parenting to us. Because let’s be honest: People in White Houses shouldn’t throw stones.