Mitt Romney’s rhetoric can’t even take a breath long enough to let the rest of us write as fast as his disparaging remarks flow. Just yesterday I wrote a piece here at PoliticusUSA about the distraction of the “Momney” fracas. I warned not to be distracted by it and that this was an overt opportunistic attempt for Romney to take a reckless comment by a Democrat to try and paint liberals as anti-moms. Well, one of the issues that lies beneath this that I had in mind as I wrote was the legislative differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to supporting women on this issue alone – the stay-at-home mom. Here is Romney’s quote:
“While I was governor, 85 percent of the people on a form of welfare assistance in my state had no work requirement. I wanted to increase the work requirement. I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless,’ and I said ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”
My voice comes from experience on numerous levels; 1) I was a stay-at-home mom until my daughter entered kindergarten; 2) I relied on daycare subsidies after I went back to college and work, and while I fought for child support; 3) I worked as an Eligibility Technician interviewing recipients and managing cases for those in need of services; 4) I became a paid lobbyist in Alaska who was front and center on the fight over Welfare Reform and this very issue of “dignity” for poor mothers was a huge debate.
Since he had to take it to the next tier, and after revisiting the video of Mitt Romney speaking before a crowd in New Hampshire…waaayyyy back in January of this year about his position on poor single mothers, I am back today to discuss Romney’s revealing statements about how, in his religio-political worldview, women are stratified into tidy classes. And in this delivery he openly admits what I have heard in the legislative hallways, that they are willing to spend more tax dollars to put the kids in day care in order to force that [lazy] mother out the door in the morning.
Here are just a few more statements made by the Romneys this past week at a campaign appearance before a conservative NRA (National Rifle Association) audience:
- “We have to respect women in all those choices that they make.”
- “I happen to believe that all moms are working moms,” Mitt Romney told the NRA.
- “We have to respect women in all the choices they make,” she said. Raising children, it’s for me the most important thing we can do … Mitt said to me more times then you can imagine, Ann, your job is more important than mine.”
- And Mitt added, saying “Her work raising our boys was tougher than any job I had.”
But Am I Rich Enough?
As a poor, struggling single mother, according to the conservative flavor of family values my children would be better off being cared for by strangers so that I could be afforded the opportunity to gain dignity by leaving my home each day. The double standard could not be more clear. Consider these following factors which have have no place in their arguments either for themselves or against the poor:
- Day cares are poorly- if- regulated at all and republicans overwhelmingly propose and achieve continuing cuts to day care services and fight regulation of credentialed providers
- Day care providers are underpaid and the importance of child care is reflected in the lack of investment in training, safety measures and pay for workers
- The most important time for children, developmentally, is between the ages of birth to 5 years of age with regard to bonding and foundational formations of personality
- Republicans fight availability of contraceptives and are militantly anti-abortion but view the child and its poor family as a burden to society on its first breath
- Republicans are upping their punitive measures in the Ryan Plan that Romney calls “marvelous” by proposing additional cuts to food stamps and necessary nutrition programs that poor families depend on such as WIC (women, infants & children)
- Republicans refuse to vote for equal pay and voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by President Obama – giving every indication that gaining dignity at work does not come with fair pay
Odd, isn’t it, that Ann Romney proudly states that one day during the early years of her mothering her doting husband returned home from work and announced to her that her work was vastly more important than his. Really? Again…really?
But Am I Good Enough?
It is with great restraint that I continue to write because this is not only profoundly insulting to women, but it is discriminatory, degrading and judgmental toward the less fortunate and it challenges me to use acceptable language. It is important to point out that even though Dominionists call Mormonism a “cult” (the pot calling the kettle black), Mormons claim that they believe in every word of the Bible in addition to the Book of Mormon. I point this out because no matter which sect of Christianity is at work here, they seem to miss the most important verses from the very source they so piously claim as their ultimate authority.
- “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.” -Proverbs 22:16
- “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” -Matthew 19:21
- “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” -Proverbs 28:27
The Christian bible is full of these warnings and admonitions, these are just a few verses to convey that I don’t think the Bible is saying to them what it is saying to me. Their actions are in direct conflict with these biblical directives, yet they thump their bibles and insist that their decisions on these matters comes from the highest authority – their God. Herein lies the danger of electing politicians who are convinced that they are divinely chosen to lead us into righteousness through their godly directives. They are hypocrites of the highest order!
There is No Dignity When Children Suffer
The argument that Mitt Romney asserted before that N.H. audience is one that has been around as a political point by conservatives for at least two decades. As a lobbyist for families and children on social justice issues during the 1990s, I had to push back against this discriminatory argument to my state legislators as we hammered through a piece of Welfare Reform legislation. Study after study has shown just how crucially important these first years are for children to be with their parents, but to the conservative leadership – if you are poor the world becomes a very different place for you because you have brought this on yourself.
The conservative devaluation of a poor women as a parent could not be more clear when they take the position that the only way for her to attain dignity is to leave the home each day and abandon her children to the care of strangers. These are the blanket assumptions that I can tell you I heard from legislative mouths to my ears over the course of meetings and committee hearings for years:
- Poor women are lazy and do nothing while at home with their children
- single moms are failures, evidenced in large part by the fact that they did not marry
- Child Support is an unfair burden to the absent parent (men represent the highest percentage of noncustodial parents)
- Caregivers and day care providers do not need to be skilled
- Abuse in day cares are rare and do not justify the costs of implementing regulations and licensure oversight
- Women receiving benefits should forfeit income from their jobs outside the home/or be paid at a rate below the minimum wage
…and two of my favorites despicable quotes from actual Republican Committee Chairs on the issues of work and child protection…
- “Children will learn a work ethic because their mothers are leaving the home to go to work”.
- “It is better that one child continue to be abused, than one family falsely accused”.
You Don’t Get a “Choice” if You Are Poor
All this is black and white. You must be a Momney to make that choice to be a stay-at-home mom. You cannot be poor, and that includes the working poor who literally could not make in an hourly wage what it cost them to pay for child care (especially without child support). As a case worker approximately 70% of my nearly 600 clients were the working poor. They got up and worked hard for very little. Their incomes were so low that they were eligible for food stamps. Their employers, including big corporations like K-Mart and Walmart, were too greedy to extend benefits so they would cap their hours just below the ceiling so that the company would not have to pay for health and other benefits.
So this pompous ass and his wife are now whipping up their base on the backs of approximately 16 million poor women in the hopes of attracting women voters? Yep! That is exactly what they are doing and some very ignorant people across America with a predisposed bias against the poor – are buying it. Shame on all of them…dignity, indeed!
And Ann, this issue has nothing to do with those personal and health struggles that you have been referring to. My mother died of breast cancer and had MS – and like you, she was a fundamentalist bible believer who sat in judgement of others. I know the type. I was raised by one who was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom of the 50s and 60s. The difference is that your husband is running for President of the United States and these positions against women are no longer personal choice, religious views and private opinion. ~ About the Author, Leah L. Burton