Class issues underlie political battles

BY CONNOR BURNS ’13
Senior Staff Writer

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The Republican primaries are over. We have seven months until Nov 6. The jobs report showed about half the gains of previous months. North Korea’s rocket blew up from mechanical failure, Syria looks dire, the European debt crisis continues to hang over the global economy’s head, and here we are nationally discussing the employment history of Ann Romney.

How precisely did we get here? Certainly, this fits in with the Dems’ narrative of the GOP’s ‘war on women,’ a claim justified by the slew of ridiculous abortion laws and attempts to limit access to birth control, but I digress. Hilary Rosen, a strategist for a Democrat-leaning political communications firm, said Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life.” Many people, most of whom happen to be strategists related to the GOP, have lambasted Rosen’s comments as critical of motherhood in general. This is actually an attack on women, these critics say, because it devalues the act of motherhood. Isn’t raising five sons work? No one contests that it is, indeed, work. However, did the Romney family ever worry about having to put food on the table? Economic security makes the act of raising children much easier, and this is reflected in lower abuse rates, better education, nutrition, and health for the children of higher-income families.

At hand here is not whether motherhood is difficult or not, because everyone can agree that it is (though the Catholic League of America claims that Rosen’s lesbianism somehow made that act easier for her and her adopted children). The issue raised by Rosen’s attack on Ann Romney is one of economic equality and the way quality of life differs between the lower and upper classes.

Some families literally struggle to put food on the table, many of them single mothers who must work (often multiple jobs) and raise children at the same time. Barack Obama’s mother was in this position for much of his childhood, and his example is one of triumphing over circumstance. Mitt Romney’s father was the governor of Michigan and an extremely wealthy man. All of this can — and will — become part of the Obama 2012 campaign narrative.

It may be sensationalist, but this story will be played out in millions of dollars of ad revenue looking to have the 43rd President of the United States see a second term. So is this a fair rhetorical strategy? Rich versus poor? Old money versus new? The easy answer is that dirty games require cheap tactics in order to compete. The more troubling answer is that perhaps this is bullshit and symptomatic of a society plagued by logical fallacy and heated emotional appeals.

We as a society do not discuss class well. Any discussion of class divisions typically devolves into allegations of communism and an overall questioning of American-ness. Perhaps now is the time that American society can earnestly examine whether it even cares about economic equality, and those who ask the question must accept that the American people may say “No.”
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connor.burns@fandm.edu.

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