A piece that my friend and fellow blogger, Dane, wrote back in October has received an enormous amount of attention from readers these past couple of days. The increased traffic to the blog came following Hillary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney’s not having “worked a day in her life.” Although Rosen released a statement apologizing for her comment, the public debate continues.
Just today, two writers with seemingly very different political views have found common ground in their belief that Ann Romney cannot speak for American women. Michael Tomasky, a well-known liberal who writes for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, accuses Ann of being an “unrepresentative woman” then writes that conservatives are “obsessed with pillorying the people they think of as the undeserving in society.” He continues:
I say it’s not unreasonable of me to point that out she “earned” her excellent insurance and care by marrying well.
But what of the millions of women who share her bad luck health-wise but don’t share her good luck wealth-wise? We don’t know what she thinks, and maybe since she’s not the candidate she is under no obligation to tell us, interesting as it might be to find out. But we do know what her husband, her own presumed insurance provider, thinks. He thinks the hell with them. He used to care about them, when he passed a law giving them a fair shot at buying affordable coverage, but now he wants to repeal the law that does the same thing nationally, and the only reason is political calculation and cowardice. That’s his, not hers. But I do wonder whether she agrees with him that these women should be left on their own because to help them would be to hand a political victory to the enemy.
Most likely coming from the other end of the political spectrum, Julia Goralka writes for the Washington Times writes that “Mitt Romney’s problem with women is not Hilary Rosen, but Ann Romney.” She agrees with Rosen’s main point that “ has never had to worry about having enough money to put food on her children’s plates or whether or not they will be able to afford college, and that because of this, she is not in touch with the majority of women in the country.”
One can conclude from these comments from disparate sources is life experience could seemingly disqualify Mitt from serving as president and Ann from advising him on issues that affect women. The first reaction that comes to mind is to declare that as pure poppycock.
The real issue here is what appears to be a rather widespread belief today, that finding solutions to societal problems requires that one have firsthand experience. Such a belief is based on the assumption that solutions can come from others rather than depending on individual decisions and actions. Based on historical observation of the US War on Poverty, the evidence is quite clear that members of one group cannot solve the problems of others; no amount of living in poverty can create understanding that will remove others from its effects.
The bottom line is that the life journey that Mitt and Ann have had is no more understandable to others than the other way around. There is simply no way that anyone but Mitt and Ann can understand who they are, what they think, and what they feel.
What is absolutely important, however, is the potential benefit of the skills and verifiable record that Mitt brings to the job that he proposes to undertake. What he has done in the past is infinitely more pertinent to what he wants to do than how he or Ann might “feel” based on their socioeconomic position in life.