Monday, October 6, 2014

Campaign Snapshot

An interesting occurrence last week made me think about a way in which women in politics differ from men. Take, for example, Courtney Watson. Now, there's nothing in her experience, ability, intelligence, or energy that sets her apart in any way from male politicians in Howard County. And yet there's something she won't, no--can't--do. And it bears examination.

That's right. You won't be seeing Courtney Watson "play the Wife Card."

And why would she? Of what importance is the temperament of her spouse to voters?

Oh, I know that trotting the wife out is a time-honored political move. It lends a folksy air, a bit of human warmth. But when I thought of how ridiculous it would be for Mrs. Watson to shine the spousal spotlight on Mr. Watson, I realized just how ridiculous it is, period. This is not to say anying negative about Robin Kittleman. But, no matter how awesome she may be, she is not a reason to vote for her husband.

I saw a similar example arise this week from a blog post by Bill Woodcock. Nikki Schmidt took issue with something he said. Fine. She went public on Facebook with her displeasure. Also fine. But the way that it was done, so carefully packaged and presented by her candidate husband Kevin felt less like passionate opinion and more like carefully crafted campaign rhetoric.

First, the rather humorous concept that he just couldn't hold her back. I can't tell if I am supposed to feel admiration or embarrassment for her after that introduction. Secondly, the manner in which it was presented: couldn't Nikki have said this on her own? Why did it have to come through her husband?

It must be a hard life to be a political wife, (or husband, although there's still much less of that) indeed, harder than I can imagine. Finding the right balance between supporting one's spouse and yet retaining one's own sense of self must be exhausting.

Be that as it may...

I am a voter. I am interested in the candidate. Show me experience, ability, intelligence, energy. Tell me your positions on important issues. Highlight your involvement in projects that make a difference to our community. Be honest. Be committed.

But for heavens sake, don't play the Wife Card. It's 2014. Don't try to sell us on an outdated worldview. There is a quiet sexism at work when male candidates of either party feel like they have to trot out their wives during their campaigns. I'm interested in candidates who respect both their spouses and the voter's intelligence.









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