I find it fascinating to hear how often our candidates for national office are being called “family men.” What is a “family man” and how does that impart a higher character or make one a better public servant? I think the term “family man” actually is rather meaningless and is code and carries with it some bold assumptions:
- 1. That the man is not a homosexual. He is married to a woman and has children.
— No one has demonstrated the positive or negative effect of sexual orientation in public office. I am particularly tired of fearful bisexual or gay officials who stay in the closet, but fool around in secret in order to maintain the right illusion.
- That the man is no longer dating and having sex with a variety of women. He is settled into domestic tranquility.
— Marriage never stopped anyone from continuing to “sow wild oats.”
- That he is no longer independent; he is connected to others who depend on his income.
— If anything financial pressures can prompt a sell-out to special interest money.
- That the gentleman supports organized religion and makes an effort to practice.
— How many have manipulated organized religion simply to get votes and cash?
- That the guy has children and therefore understands what it means to be a father.
— Many have had negative father experiences and pass them down to their children. For example, do I think many of the Kennedy woes can be traced to Daddy Joe? Don’t ask.
- That the man is focused on his immediate family and does not let his job interfere with it.
— Many national elected officials have to spend a disproportionate amount of time away from their families. Shared power and status satisfies many politicians’ spouses even if their marriages are on the rocks.
- That he knows how to treat women respectfully.
— Frankly I’d prefer some of their wives would run for office. They know what it is to suffer and put up with inflated egos. They’ve often learned to make the best of difficult circumstances far better than their elected spouses.
- That the man does not do drugs, does not abuse alcohol, does not gamble, doesn’t stay out late at night partying, and is never violent.
— Some qualities I insist upon in elected officials.
- That he has “manly” interests, such as shooting, fishing, and golf and loves rock music.
— I don’t care what his interests are beyond a solid respect for justice, for the equal application of the law, for the poor, for the diversity of ideas, and for a full spectrum of political positions. And I don’t expect him to become a millionaire while in public office. That’s why I almost always vote against incumbent senators.
So what do you think? Is being a “family man” important for your candidates? When was the last time you heard “family woman” for female candidates. Sounds silly and condescending, doesn’t it? What qualities matter to you as you go to the polls this year? (You ARE voting, I hope!)
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