Let's Get Political

Michelle Obama vs. Ann Romney: Why Not?


Vice President Joseph “Silverfox” Biden and wannabe Vice President Paul Ryan (Gosling) went head to head last Thursday night in a nationwide attempt to prove not only themselves, but to convince the American public to vote for their dude. The final debates, POTUS vs. the Mittster, air on October 16 (TONIGHT!) and October 22nd. Don’t miss ’em (or go ahead, because, you know. YouTube).

You know what I was thinking as I watched Vice President Biden snicker throughout Ryan’s admittedly bold attempt at standing up for his relatively wishy-washy causes? If the first debate was between the candidates’ wives, how cool would that be? I do not mean every election season, necessarily – what if a president wasn’t married?! (Yeah, right – good luck getting elected as a bachelor/bachelorette!) I mean, would it not have been amazing to see Michelle Obama and Ann Romney put their dukes up? Why not hear from the women smart enough to marry these powerhouse influential men? (Whoo, that was real hard to type out.)

But in all seriousness, why don’t we get to hear more from these women? Why don’t we get to hear their voices and opinions on a more regular basis, especially in the middle of an extremely heated election season in which we constantly hear from not just the politicians, but from everybody? In the age of twitter and facebook and blogs galore, we basically know everybody’s opinions at all times of the day. It would be a delightful and refreshing political move if the women next to these candidates were allowed to stand up at podiums and argue their causes. Wouldn’t you be more likely to believe the women, anyway? I know I trust a woman, by nature, easier than I trust a man. Offense.

Michelle Obama proved herself above and beyond with her paramount and persuasive speech at the Democratic National Convention, and I am overly confident that she could hold her own/stand her ground/sway the undecided voters/ball so hard in a debate situation.

When I sat down to write this, I actually knew very little about Ann Romney, so I decided to research some clips of her speaking publicly. Once I got past the Saturday Night Live weekend update clip (I may have watched it like seven times, but also I have a fatty crush on Seth Meyers), I tuned into her speech at the Republican National Convention. In an attempt to be nonpartisan, I will say that Ann Romney can (kind of) impress. Part of me believes that there is a simplicity to Ann Romney that the nation responds to: plenty of nooks of our country undoubtedly respond to the “everyman” (see: President George W. Bush’s entire term), and she has that appeal. Part of me believes she is playing the role that she is supposed to play, and perhaps there is more to her than “talking about love.” Ann Romney got up in front of the Republican Party and the nation, and used the roles she has snugly accepted to appeal to the women of America.

“And if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It’s how it is, isn’t it? It’s the moms who have always had to work a little harder to make everything right. It’s the mom’s of this nation, single, married, widowed, who really hold the country together. We’re the mothers. We’re the wives. We’re the grandmothers. We’re the big sisters. We’re the little sisters and we are the daughters.” Ann Romney, the walls behind her adorned with conventional family photos, finished up the aforementioned speech by saying, “I love you, women!” in quite the Oprah-reminiscent outcry.

Ann Romney embodies a vision of normalcy which undoubtedly appeals to plenty of people in America. I mentioned that I was attempting to act nonpartisan, therefore I will leave it at that.

Michelle Obama, unlike Ann Romney, did not rely on outdated feminine stereotypes to implore the women of America. Michelle Obama’s speech had the power to appeal to not a percentage of America, but to all (open-minded) Americans. Michelle Obama did not rely on stereotypes of men or women to gain our interest and more importantly our trust, but she cited countless examples of familial struggles in which each and every one of us can relate. Michelle Obama referenced conversations between herself and her husband, showing us not telling us about the love between the two of them. Michelle Obama, by avoiding the preoccupation of “I am wife and mother” engaged the American public by slyly working in the fact that she is speaking for the women of America. Gracefully, at that. She is the vision of how women should be: career and family, wife and independent woman, standing beside her husband, not behind him. She could debate; she could debate better than her husband could debate. Our ears are open to you, First Lady.

Hearing Ann Romney and Michelle Obama dispute the hot topics presented at these age-old debates would bring us a whole new level of information, a whole new reason to vote for whoever we choose to place our trust in. Though the ladies would  most likely deliver the familiar agendas of each of their political parties, it would be incredibly exhilarating to hear the points of view of the women not necessarily in political office, but directly associated with it. The wives of presidents throughout history have at times been smarter and more self-assured than their husbands: why not let them argue their points?

Especially in an election year we in the media have been claiming is “all about the women’s vote,” why haven’t we let the women speak?

If you were disappointed in President Obama’s performance at his first debate, do what I did. Close your eyes and pretend it was his wife instead. Ahh, invigorating, huh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=546860098 Siobhan Kümm

    “She is the vision of how women should be: career and family,”

    Whoa…I’m sorry. What?! The basic idea of woman’s liberation is allowing women to CHOOSE their own path. So if I chose to be a stay at home mom, I’m not a real woman? Please…THAT type of thinking helps set women back just as much as the thought that women HAVE to be wives/mothers only.

    I understand that you are entitled to your opinion and I am all for women choosing to have a career AND a family…but I am for women being able to choose one or the other…without being made to feel like they are less of a woman for doing so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001016783081 Jess Tholmer

      Career AND family is career and/or family, but “and/or” is a pet peeve of mine in the written word. I definitely do not look down on stay at home mothers, and I am sorry you jumped to that conclusion so swiftly. If it is not clear that I support ALL women’s choices, hear me now: I support all women’s choices.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=546860098 Siobhan Kümm

        Thank you for clearing that up. =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1300729175 Emily Luna

    I love Michelle Obama so much! She is such a bad ass… I mean look at her guns!! I also love Seth Meyers 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5700040 Nikki Nyack

    I agree to that we’d like to hear from them, BUT they shouldn’t debate for the simple reason that they’re not politicians. We’ve gone so far as to politicize EVERYTHING, from the actual debates, to whether or not candidates are wearing an American flag pin. We don’t need to politicize their wives, who are not politicians, more than they already are. They won’t have nearly as much to do with governing the country than their husbands would as president. It’s harder to figure out which politician has policies/platforms you agree with and then vote for them, even with the debates we already have. We need more unobscured facts out in the open and less drama.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001016783081 Jess Tholmer

      A great point. That being said, I WISH Michelle was a politician!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511201061 Cat Richardson

      Agreed. I love Michelle almost as much as I love Barack, but she’s not running for president. (Yet??! haha jk) It would be as if we got two random people off the street to debate about things. Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are not running for president and probably don’t want to run the country. AND what they think shouldn’t have an effect on the way we think about the candidates, because shockingly enough, maybe they don’t have identical beliefs. Just because Mitt believes one thing doesn’t mean his wife needs to have the same views. The women MAY feel the same on every issue, but we can’t assume that. They can support their man as much as they want, and should, but no debates necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=59401017 Megan French

    Jess, I love this idea. Especially, as you said, in a year when it’s “all about the woman’s vote.” It would be great to hear more from a candidate’s family, especially their spouse!
    I’ve seen a couple different interviews with Ann Romney where, when asked about women’s issues, she only focused on how the the Romney campaign’s policies would help mothers. I’d like to see the Romney campaign, if not the Republican party overall, remember that not all women in this country, single or married, are mothers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001016783081 Jess Tholmer

      Amen. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25914046 Missy Hovland

      Oh, Megan. If I had to choose someone to clone and have a billion of in the world, it would be you. No question.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17803853 Jodi Goodman

      Do we not all look at the issues with our particular lenses? How many women’s rights do you care about because they actually, personally, affect you? I think you’re naive to think that your concerns are much broader than those that affect you directly. She’s not here to speak about birth control or planned parenthood or abortion. She’s offering insights into what she knows (because what else can she be expected to talk about besides what she knows)–family, motherhood, and strong values.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506922093 Harrison Fountain

    I don’t want them to debate. Maybe a discussion from each of what it’s like to be married to the candidates and what they would hope to accomplish as First Lady, but not a debate. People should focus on the issues, economic and social, and decide from there whose platform they support. That’s why it’s such a big-deal to be a flip-flopper (a term applied to Mitt Romney this go around, but applied to John Kerry in 2004 as much).

    The USA is a republic, meaning we elect politicians to vote on legislation the way we would vote. It’s easier than a direct democracy and our goal is to elect people who will represent our views. Being a flip-flopper or focusing on people not connected to the issues means people will elect someone based on their personality instead of their views. That’s not a good idea because the politician could be incredibly popular but if his or her platform is awful or unfinished or poorly researched, then why elect him or her?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1018710032 Jennifer Lloyd

    They probably don’t get their own debate because they’re not elected officials?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1018710032 Jennifer Lloyd

      And also because I don’t think they actually have any “powers” prescribed to them other than unofficially churning out more good PR if possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=759104898 Emily Kreider

    I adore Michelle Obama. She is so poised and stylish and seems like the BEST lunch date.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=759104898 Emily Kreider

      Not to mention, she’s brilliant!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000390182800 Cristina Escamilla

    Attempt at non-partisan article failed. This is just basically an article gushing about how great Michelle is. You should actually do research before doing a comparison if you know next to nothing about the person your writing about.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=171800113 Melanie McBride

      I agree. It would be utterly refreshing at this point to read a real nonpartisan article about the election. There must be one out there somewhere…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002901477636 Jennifer Edmondson

    Michelle is great. Ann seems like a stepford wife. Of course this has nothing to do with the election.

    Mitt Romney’s 5 point plan is definitely going to work! Fer sure! Guys, he’s got a 5 point plan. A 5 point plan.

    I felt like I was watching an infomercial. If you just buy into my 5 point plan, you too can get a job. A job relevant to your major? Hell no. No one is going to turn this shit around in 4 years, or even 8. If you believe Romney’s magic underpants 5 point plan then you are desperate.

    We need someone who isn’t going to come in and make HUGE changes. Like messing with your ability to buy birth control. Or making it impossible for me to marry who I want to marry.

    Obama isn’t perfect, and no matter what any candidate says they cannot fix this economy asap. Michelle is a fantastic public speaker and no matter how you feel about her husband it’s hard to dislike her. But this isn’t a popularity contest and no one will take you seriously if you turn this election into High School.

    This whole thing makes me want to puke all over myself. I’m venting and obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just hope it’s for the right reasons and not just you’re out of a job thanks to Obama and Mitt’s 5 point plan (which may or may not include John Basedow’s biceps) will have people knocking down your door with work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004379352712 Bridey Murphy

      Why does Ann Romney seem like a Stepford wife to you? Because she’s blond and attractive? It seems to me that you are buying in to the same types of stereotypes that I’m sure you purport to oppose. Ann Romney has raised five children, battled cancer and is currently batting multiple sclerosis, a serious and potentially debilitating disease. Despite her challenges, she has devoted her much of her life to her church and to charity. It’s funny how these things are rarely mentioned in forums such as this, or anywhere, for that matter. But, then again, Ann might not be a “fantastic public speaker” . . . and that really is the most important thing isn’t it? Oh, and p.s. – no one wants to “mess[] with your ability to buy birth contol,” some people just believe that others shouldn’t be forced to buy it for you :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004379352712 Bridey Murphy

        I also think it’s quite telling that, while you suggest that you are a tolerant individual (i.e. – womens’ rights, gay rights, etc.) you think it’s okay to make a “magic underpants” comment — obviously a crack at the Romneys’ religious beliefs. Classy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1034154417 Ivie Sanchez

          Forced to buy my birth control? You mean medication, that should be covered by a health plan, not to be determined by a boss who chooses to assert his views on morality on me?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=765432118 Hailey Case

            We shouldn’t have to pay for the morning/week after pills or abortions for those who decide that killing babies is okay. It’s not healthcare, it’s government assisted homicide.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=765432118 Hailey Case

              I wouldn’t mind paying taxes for cancer trials or mammograms, or getting behind a healthcare plan that helped people pay for life-saving surgeries/treatments. I don’t want to pay for people who make decisions they’re not ready for and end the development of children prematurely…

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17803853 Jodi Goodman

          I agree. It’s interesting how it’s only hateful if it’s aimed at some groups, whereas it’s perfectly acceptable and even funny to mock other groups (while still calling THEM the hateful ones).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3327924 Nikki Lourdes Alfonso

    “ball so hard in a debate situation” haha! yess!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002581598663 Hans Johan Svensson

    I would enjoy a meaningfull discussion between the two of them if they could act as if the TVcameras were not there. Not that I actually want to see their “dukes up” but that it would be possible to learn a whole lot more from them if they did no allways assume that people listening to them are stupid (my impression of US politicians in general).
    Such encounters would be even more usefull to all parties involved if there was also an element of respecfull humilitie where f.ex. the words; I did not know that thankyou for telling me about it, would appear at times. This would perhaps require a month or two. They would also risk appearing as if uninformed in public if they would admit a healthy readyness to change their opinions if need be.
    If such talks really took place people might acctually start believing in the honesty of politicians. Politicians would perhaps belive in them selves a bit more not to rely on lying or bribing people; Like: “vote for me and get a taxcut”. The Romans used to buy peoples votes up front and no hassle about it, just a big bag of money, with people lining up for miles.

    And (again) there used to be a time when the knowledge of mankind would fit into one mind – that was the older stoneage some 50 000 yers ago. We´ve come a long way since then.
    None of us can presume to have that amount of knowledge, to run a country – so why should a politician.
    “ah know cos´ah read the bible” As an atheist I allways ask why god would ever stop writing and why “he” would ever stop trying to communicate. Why would anyone presume to have divine knowledge?

    So, dear americans. You may not agree with people around you – but, they may well have knowledge that you don´t to make your country whole.

    And yes, I agree with most of the artickle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=765432118 Hailey Case

    The attempt at being nonpartisan was feeble at best. Throwing that in there after every sentence having to do with Romney made it very clear that what you were saying just before it was bs to cover your ass…I think this article was a call for more Michelle Obama speaking time and publicity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581690531 Amy Reed

    Ann Rooney is more than a stereotype. Some women are proud to be Exactly what society “expects” then to be. How can it be assumed that Because they addressed women differently, I’ve was more genuine? Ann is proud of the rule she plays in her family’s life. Why should she be put down for a speech where she did was glorify traditional women’s roles? You say Michelle addressed the subject slyly…since when is sly a good thing? You need to work on your attempt to be non-partisan because your liberal bias is showing big time. Both women are impressive and deserve recognition, don’t belittle one because she is proud of her womanhood in a different way than you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17803853 Jodi Goodman

    While we obviously have very different political views, which (in my opinion) is perfectly wonderful, your attempts to remain unbiased as you look at TWO women who radiate power, integrity and class rather failed. To look at a woman who chooses to devote her life to her family and faith and see that as weakness or “stepford” or “outdated” is the very opposite of feminism. Here’s to celebrating women being powerful and beautiful in whatever their life choices.

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