Hillary’s cause was health care and women’s rights. Is Michelle telling us that her cause will be work/life balance? Will she work for paid sick days for all workers, even part-time workers? Will she push President Obama to pressure Congress to pass a paid Family Medical Leave Act? In five years, will parents be able to apply for vouchers to help cover the cost of child and/or elder care?
While the prospect of either a President who did get push to get us FMLA in the first place or a First Lady who all but promises to take us to the next level is enticing, the real question is this: Why aren't Michelle and Hillary's male counterparts -- Barack and Bill -- talking about these issues? (And, come to think of it, why have we not heard anything about work-life balance from John or Cindy McCain?)
Surely these two intelligent men have watched their wives and partners struggle to meet work deadlines and get to a parent-teacher conference. I’ve read that Barack has not missed one teacher conference during this campaign. That is remarkable and deserving of praise. Surely they have also struggled with meeting the expectations of their respective daughters and the expectations of their offices.
If Barack is truly about change, he would embrace the issue of work-life balance as a men’s issue and speak to the 25- to 40-year-old men who, in my honest opinion, do want to be a father first and then a worker. If Bill wants to show the country that we are ready for genderless roles from caregivers to the President, he needs to embrace this issue. The way he’s been talking on the campaign trail, a new issue might suit him well.
For far too long we have been saying, “Work it, Mom!” because we had to do it all. Today, our society has evolved to a point where men want in on caregiving -- and we need to let them in. We need the workplace to not daddy-track men as a consequence. But most of all, we need fathers to work it for work-life balance -- and that certainly includes Barack and Bill.