Bad Parenting: Using Your Child to Zing a Politician
Sometimes we tend to get ticked off when we feel that one of our politicians is a poor example for our children. Whether it be due to a policy decision or the words they speak, we sometimes get so worked up that we find ourselves fantasizing how we'd like to heckle that person if ever given the opportunity. Maybe we've even taken a moment and actually rehearsed the snappy line we'd use - you know, that one that would surely be picked up by cameras and leave that politician looking like a fool in front of an audience.
A lot of us also live vicariously through our kids, whether we'd like to admit it or not. We sometimes invest too much personal emotion in the grand aspirations we have for them. This leads us to get a little unruly on the sidelines at little-league games and feel insulted when our kids don't get cast in a play.
Neither urge is particularly attractive when acted on. You either come across as a buffoon who's looking for attention, or an overbearing parent who won't let their kid be a kid. Yet, what I've seen lately on the national level are parents who have actually integrated the two. They've fed political rhetoric to their children and then poked and prodded them into delivering a stinging blow to unsuspecting politicians.
Last week, GOP candidate Michele Bachmann was at a book signing in South Carolina. When she was approached by a mother with her eight year-old son, Bachmann greeted them both. The mother told the congresswoman that her son had something he wanted to say to her. The boy was clearly nervous to speak but the mother egged him on. At one point, the boy was so uncomfortable that he lowered his head and covered his face with his hands. Bachmann, who clearly recognized the boy's reluctance, endearingly leaned forward and pulled the child close to her ear so she could better hear him.
The boy then whispered, "My mom is gay and she doesn’t need fixing."
This of course stunned Bachmann, as any political verbiage coming from a small child would, and left her speechless for a few seconds. A video of the encounter, filmed by a friend of the mother's, was posted on YouTube.
The comment was in reference to the numerous socially conservative positions the congresswoman has taken on gay rights issues, and it was clearly not concocted by the mind of an eight-year old child, despite some ridiculous claims by his mother that it was. The incident was filmed for the sole purpose of posting it on the internet for the world to see, and for the left to rejoice over. Judging by the number of views it has received, it served its purpose.
Now, I certainly have no problem with someone voicing their opposition to the congresswoman's political views. She's running to be president after all. It's important to hear from the electorate. But as someone who disagrees with some of Michele Bachmann's stances on gay rights issues myself, I am appalled that this mother was such a complete coward that she shamelessly coached and pressured her abiding son into carrying out a verbal hit-job for her, because she didn't have the guts to do it herself. Absolutely pathetic.
I find it interesting that the video of the incident was posted with the proud title, "Activist Elijah With Michele Bachmann". Apparently the new definition of Activist is: "An unwitting child who is used as a political prop by his mother."
Back in August at an event in New Hampshire, a similar incident happened when another mother used her son as an involuntary surrogate to confront presidential candidate Rick Perry on his science and evolution beliefs.
Caught on video as well, the mother is seen repeatedly pushing her son close to Perry and feeding him questions to ask the Texas governor. Knowing that Perry is a believer in creationism, a mindset which she apparently finds offensive, the badgering mom was relentless: "Ask him how old he thinks the earth is!", "Ask him about evolution!", and my personal favorite, "Ask him why he doesn't believe in science!"
Ah yes, the classic half-brained assertion that someone can't be a Christian and also believe in science. That poor kid's mom must be a real gas at PTA meetings.
The mother was standing right there. Why didn't she just ask Perry those questions herself? The answer is that she feared an adult conversation what have ensued, and that was the last thing she wanted. All she wanted was to land some cheap shots on a Christian conservative, without the fear of a substantive rebuttal. After all, no one's going to take questioning to task if it comes from the mouth of an innocent child. Again, it was complete cowardice on the mother's part.
The bottom line is that politics is not a place for children. If you want to dress them up in a campaign shirt and march them in a parade, that's fine. But they need to be kept out of the dirt at all costs. They're too young to understand politics. They don't need to understand politics. And they should in no way be dragged through politics so parents can act out their soapbox fantasies.