Because of that, I highly respect the decision of Ann Romney to stay at home and raise their five children. It goes without saying that being extremely wealthy makes that decision much easier: the ability to hire nannies and housekeepers when necessary certainly alleviates some of the stresses commonly associated with stay-at-home parenthood. But that isn't the point: parents who choose to stay at home and raise children willingly risk forgoing the potential social prestige and economic benefits associated with developing an external career. My father, for instance, forsook a promising academic career to raise and home-school my brother and myself. Partly owing to personal experience, I feel that parents who feel that raising children is their calling should be highly respected for their choice: we, as progressives, should no more be in the business of telling parents, especially women, that they should work than the Catholic League should be in the business of telling them that they should sacrifice their ambitions to stay home with their children. What we as progressives must be in the business of doing is making sure that everyone has the ability to make that choice.
Here, however, is where my respect for Ann Romney ends. Once again, it is my job as a progressive to ensure that everyone has access to follow their dreams. Ann Romney, however, supports policies that will ensure that only people of her station will be able to make such sacrifices.
Back in 2003, current Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren co-authored a book called The Two-Income Trap. The main thesis was that even a decade ago, it took two incomes to maintain the same standard of living as one income could provide generations ago. The main culprits were the rising cost of education and the rising cost of insurance. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that these problems have only gotten more aggravated with the passage of time, further limiting the options of parents who might otherwise wish to stay home with children, but cannot spare the income, or in many cases forcing young people who just cannot figure out a way to get ahead of the game to delay marriage and child-rearing, waiting for an era of comfort and job security that may come far later than they expect, if ever.
Ann Romney wishes to be respected for her choice. Fair enough. But the fastest way for her to earn respect for her choice is to make sure such a choice is not the province of her class alone, and that idea is in direct contrast to the policies that her husband Mitt espouses. So here's a simple message to Ann Romney:
If you care about making sure that parents can afford to stay home with their children, then you don't support Scott Walker's efforts to destroy the middle class. You don't support Paul Ryan's budget that destroys Medicare and Medicaid. You examine the fact that public education is becoming increasingly expensive, and you support efforts to fund it, rather than continue to watch it spiral out of control and ensure that it takes two incomes to afford any sort of higher education. You support student loan reform so that new graduates don't have to work their entire lives to pay off their debt. You don't "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, which provides vital medical services and helps ensure that women are able to raise healthy children to begin with. You don't let Detroit go bankrupt so that vulture capitalists like the one you married can sell off its scrap for investor profits. You don't accelerate foreclosures and kick children out of their homes so that those same investors can make more money from their rental fiefdoms. You do everything you can to ensure that health insurance is not tied to employment (to be fair, Mitt deserves some credit on this). You support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to ensure that women who do choose to stay home are guaranteed some sort of recourse against partners who turn bad, instead of being forced into a devil's choice of being stuck in a violent relationship or out on the streets. You support increases in the minimum wage so that those who do work don't have to work multiple jobs just to put food on the table. You strengthen social security and its associated death benefit so that widows (or widowers) who chose to stay home have something left to live on in the worst case, instead of privatizing it so that (stop me if this sounds familiar) investors like your husband can figure out how to make even more money off of a program that's doing just fine as it is. You support investing in America again through stimulus and public works so that both men and women have good-paying jobs and a much more livable transportation system. And most importantly, you support tax reforms that require the super-wealthy (like your husband) and the gigantic corporations they run to pay their fair share in taxes so that all of these other things can happen.
If you were serious, Ann, these are just some of the things that you'd do. Otherwise, you're just another spoiled Republican telling people that as long as you can do what you want, then everyone else can go to hell.