Lindsay Ferrier, the Election Correspondent for CafeMom, made Newt Gingrich cry last week while talking about his mother. Well, technically it was pollster Frank Luntz who asked the question "What moment do you think of when you think of your Mom?" while Luntz and Ferrier were interviewing the Republican Presidential candidate at a Des Moines town hall meeting just before New Year's.
The audience for the event were mostly mothers, and many of the questions were about the frustrations American mothers feel with the bickering and posturing that passes for legislating nowadays. A recent CafeMom poll found that "moms believe much of the frustration due to the fact that that politicians aren't portraying any of the basic qualities moms teach their own kids. Cooperation, compromise, honesty, integrity - moms preach these values to their children on a daily basis."
We asked her to tell us more about that. And, taking a break from her job bringing politicians to tears, she offers this advice. -- Lisa Belkin, To-Be-Named-By-You-Blog
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the thought of your elected officials on Capitol Hill probably gives you about as much pleasure as the prospect of another Kardashian spin-off series. Poll after poll shows widespread dissatisfaction with Congress, and Americans' seesawing support for the presidential candidates indicates that they aren't thrilled with their choices for Commander-in-Chief, either. My advice to Washington? Listen to Your Mother.
I've spent a lot of time listening to moms rue the state of the economy and their elected officials' inability to do something about it. What's interesting is that many of the problems moms have with politicians would be eliminated if the men and women in Washington simply heeded the advice their own mothers gave them.
Need a reminder, Washington? Let's review:
Money doesn't grow on trees.
In a faltering economy, moms have more reason than ever to use this timeworn phrase; we have families to feed, clothe and shelter, and we've become experts at stretching the dollar. The average mom watches her budget like a hawk, cutting spending when things get tight by clipping coupons, scouring Craigslist for bargains, and buying the kids' clothing at consignment sales. If Mom can make cuts in order to keep her family's budget balanced, is it too much to ask Congress to do the same?
One of the earliest and most important lessons a mother teaches her kids is how to get along with others. "Be polite," we tell our children over and over again. "Learn to compromise." "Choose your battles." Unfortunately, the adults in Washington seem to have forgotten these social basics. The bickering between Republicans and Democrats feels uncomfortably like those annoying "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" battles that make a mom want to invest in industrial-grade earplugs. If only we could put certain House and Senate members in the naughty corner...
Actions speak louder than words.
It's a favorite mom-ism, but it seems to be lost on today's politicians. Moms are sick to death of candidates' slick speeches, flip-flopping on issues, and pandering for votes. They want to elect someone who acts, not orates, but finding that man or woman in the age of the camera-friendly face and ten-second soundbite is proving to be difficult. Quit talking and DO SOMETHING.
Treat women with respect.
Any mother of sons will tell you she's determined to raise them into men who honor the women in their lives and treat them with integrity. That's why moms have a huge problem with the number of male politicians whose bios include sexual indiscretions. I've heard moms repeat variations of this phrase too many times to count: If a man's own wife can't trust him, how can he expect his country to trust him?
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
There's nothing that turns a mother off faster than an attack ad. We teach our own children to take the high road and never badmouth the competition, and we wish politicians would do the same. "'Proving' your opponent is inept doesn't make you qualified!" summarized mother-of-five Shannon Eidson on my Facebook page recently. Exactly.
Forgive and forget.
Mom hates a cover-up, but when her kids come clean and sincerely apologize for their mistakes, she's always willing to give them a second chance. That forgiveness can extend to politicians who've made mistakes, as long as they're willing to publicly admit their mistakes and apologize for them.
With moms emerging as a key swing group in the 2012 election, don't be surprised if the candidates who win next November are the ones who've most closely followed their own moms' advice.
After all... Mothers know best.
Follow Lindsay Ferrier on Twitter: www.twitter.com/suburbanturmoil