Who were the undisputed champs of the Conservative Political Action Conference? Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh - two unmarried people without any children. Can they really represent the Republican Party - especially one that promotes itself as the pro-family party - without this experience?
I don't think so.
For Coulter and Limbaugh, it's very easy to be selfish - and clueless - on how a family has to stretch budgets like salt water taffy to afford soccer cleats, school binders and extra boxes of Mac N' Cheese. It's much easier to support one person vs. a family.
The spinster and spin master are not as concerned about spending federal money into improving local schools since they aren't seeing first hand how a math program doesn't add up.
Nor will they ever viscerally know the anguish - as described in President Obama's recent speech - of "the college acceptance letter your child had to give back."
Without nursing a sick child at night or living with disease machines as my friend Lara jokes about our kids, how can they really know why health insurance is so essential? Nor will they know the stress of leaving your child at home and scrambling to find babysitters when you have to leave town to make a speech or work late to keep your job.
As anyone who has children experiences, kids force your heart and mind to become more elastic. When you become a parent, you turn into a pragmatist. Kids test you - as well as your positions. You learn from each other.
Coulter and Limbaugh don't have to make allowances for other people's beliefs, behaviors or feelings and can surround themselves with sycophants and people who echo their positions. Not when you're a parent. You learn diplomacy at the dinner table when your teenager is touting his newest position on recycling iceberg lettuce, your fifth grader is wondering why you don't use solar panels and your eighth grader considers Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt heroes.
Through your kids, a whole new universe of people arrives in your kitchen. Your kids' friends - and as a result their friends' parents - become a part of your life as you organize play dates together and are forced to spend endless hours on sports fields side by side. I am now friends with people I would never have chosen but because we share our kids in common, I have found common ground and appreciate positions different from mine.
Rush Limbaugh has been married three times - and divorced. Ann Coulter has never been married. Yet they are now considered the voices of the Republican Party. In fact, Limbaugh has turned into a rigid headmaster who gleefully raps the knuckles of any dissenting Congressman or Senator who doesn't march to his views. Wanting the President to fail at such a perilous time are the words of someone who doesn't have as much of a stake in the future which comes when you have children.
While no one argues that Coulter is treacherously articulate, she herself learned that her inexperience as a parent backfired even with her own party when she went after the 9/11 widows. As the author of "Don't Let Death Ruin Your Life," I know that no amount of money makes up for losing a child - or husband.
Clearly there are many people who haven't had children or never married who become loving supportive aunts and uncles and are sensitive to issues impacting families. But it still is not the same experience as being a parent.
My husband is a moderate Republican and someone who voted for Sen. John McCain while I voted for Barack Obama. Our three children challenge our positions at dinner and we must reply not with insults but with reasoned arguments. I have agreed that Obama's economic policy is too much waste along with gloom and doom while Gary acknowledges that expanding innovation in energy policies is the future. We have learned to agree to disagree and still love each other. By having different views around the dinner table, and having to be tolerant of each other day in and day out, the winner is the most informed and inventive, not the one spewing souped-up sound bites.
America is a family with problems and we have to pull together - both Republicans and Democrats - for the greater good. The leaders of the parties need to be those who understand both compromise and compassion and those are not traits that can be applied to the childless Limbaugh or Coulter.