as someone who has a masters in political science/public policy (you know, back before i traded in my brain for motherhood ;-), i wonder whether linda hirshman is being a bit narrow in her interpretation. frankly, the majority of americans have no earthly clue about politics, how they’re represented, or frankly most issues facing us. it really isn’t just us SAHMs. she’s right about the real simple business, i’m sure; but substitute maxim or some other magazine for men, and i’d say men and women are on par here. frankly, most presidential elections since i can remember (and that would be the 1970s for me) have been won or lost more on character traits of the candidates than actual issues. for example, while some say carter lost because of iran, what really mowed him down IMHO was the charisma (and i say that between gritted teeth; i am not a fan of the gipper’s) of reagan. and don’t get me started on the character (ha!) traits that helped Dubya win. at least once 😉
the other night, i was trying desperately to fall asleep, and i turned on the TV in a vain hope to bore myself. i ended up watching “one versus 100,” a new game show on at p.m. one question asked involved the name of the president of iran. besides his name, the other potential answers were “albondigas” (a type of food) and “azerbijan” (you know, a former soviet republic.) when the host asked one woman why she chose azerbijan, she said that “it sounded like something she had heard once on the news.” but she had no earthly idea what it was. that pretty much sums up for me the political awareness of the majority of american voters. for whatever reason — too many other commitments in life, lack of education, complete non-interest — most americans have no clue about our political world nor do they care to spend much time understanding the nuances. (or maybe it has become too complex; i don’t know.)
sure, here in DC, you obviously get more of the interested folks. but even so, we are still part of the country, and not everyone has the time or inclination to study the issues when there are diapers to change or carpools to run — or even clocks to punch at jobs. i guess what i’m trying to say is that i think it isn’t really valuable for her to look anecdotally at SAHMs in this way; i suspect plenty of WOHMs, SAHDs, or WOHDs — frankly, people in general in the US, working or not, parents or not, are not engaged in the political process or in issues overall. in short, i bet she would get similar responses from a random sample of people, period. the argument seems flawed to me.