The Ladies of Election Day

Here we go, Americans: the Day of Reckoning. I hope you’re on your way to vote – or have already done so.

According to the Chicago Tribune, lots of voters wait until Election Day to decide whom their ballot will support. That seems so strange to me, in a country with what is essentially a two-party system, with wildly differing candidates.

As I see it, if you support the Republicans under Romney, there’s no way you can support the Democrats under Obama – and vice versa. Either you blame Obama for stuff that’s occurred during the last four years that you consider bad, or you credit him for stuff you consider good.

It’s not really my place to weigh in on the American election (even though I know who I’d vote for – and can’t imagine doing otherwise). Frankly, I’m fairly disillusioned up here in Canada, where we’re currently living under the sneakiest, most underhanded Prime Minister in history. I don’t want to talk about that guy either.

What I’m wondering today is what those two women are feeling – the ones who are poised as potential First Ladies for the next four years.

Over on BlogHer, shortly after the big presidential debate, I read posts by each of them, talking about their husbands and the campaign trail. It’s pretty interesting reading. Naturally, each woman speaks of her man with esteem and love, vouching for his character and her faith that he can fix things. I hope that all of this is sincere, but I can’t help wondering if these women would like to say things they don’t say.

Ann Romney has battled multiple sclerosis and cancer. She writes that Mitt is her hero, and that he has always stood by her during the tough times. She also writes: “I have to admit, though, five years ago at the end of the last campaign, I told Mitt I would never do this again. Mitt laughed and said, ‘Honey, you say that after every pregnancy.'” (The Romneys have five children.)

Mitt and Ann Romney campaign
Mitt and Ann Romney

This has been a vitriolic, exhausting lead-up to the election. Is there part of Ann that wishes her family weren’t having to go through all this? Has the presidential race turned out to be more than she meant to sign up for? Does she ever worry about how things will be if her husband actually becomes the President?

Michelle Obama writes very proudly of her husband’s election priorities, as well as his accomplishments thus far. She also mentions that the night of the debate was her and Barack’s 20th wedding anniversary – a big milestone.

michelle obama campaign debate
Michelle Obama

When you’re the First Lady of the United States, do you ever get to show frustration at the inconveniences that must be part of that role? Does Michelle ever wish she could just go back to being normal? Does she feel that the man she married has changed in ways she doesn’t love? Does she secretly kinda hope Barack will lose, so that she can, in some measure, have her husband back?

I’m sure that each of these women feel just as passionately about the outcome of this election as other engaged voters do: they want their candidate to win, because they feel strongly that he will help her country the most.

But, to be blunt, I think I’d hate being a First Lady. I mean, I get exasperated when Sean works extra hours unexpectedly and it infringes on our plans; I also treasure my freedom to disagree with him. And for that to be our business only. I have no desire to be nationally – much less internationally – recognizable and famous. I could probably adjust to the adoring masses’ adulation of my husband (eventually), but I’d be severely uncomfortable with the vilification that would be just as inescapable. As a borderline introvert, I’d be drained meeting and chatting graciously with so many strangers all the time. And I really don’t think my fashion sense would pass muster with the critical public.

It must be really tough. I don’t envy Michelle or Ann at all. But I hope, for each of their sakes, that they love their roles – and their husbands – as much as they seem to.

It’s gonna be a crazy, difficult day for both of them, no matter what happens. I’m wishing them strength… and some relaxing, quality family time some day soon.

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46 thoughts on “The Ladies of Election Day

  1. I love this. I also spend a lot of time thinking about the candidates’ wives, and their feelings on these kinds of historic nights. And I’ll be thinking of them tonight, as I watch the election returns roll in, and watch the speeches on TV. Thanks for sharing.
    Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted..Blind DateMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Thanks, Samantha! I don’t have cable, but I’ll probably be on the internet getting the updates (in spite of myself!). Fingers crossed!

  2. Such a refreshing take on the election. And I have felt like I don’t even know my own country ever since we elected that weasel. I’d actually argue he’s more like a dictator than underhanded, but then I think of certain incidents…can you be both? I kind of wanted to reach over the border and borrow the States’ leader (guess you can see where I stand on their election).
    Azara recently posted..The Bad MotherMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Azara, YES. Yes, I think he can be both – and IS, what an overachiever – and I have had that EXACT same feeling about that charismatic guy down south.

  3. Great post. For all the thoughts that swirl about in my head, I had never even considered this. It was so well written. I agree this election cycle has been so full of vitriol. I also have to share that a student told me today, “I would vote for Obama if I could because Michelle has a great fashion sense just like Jackie Kennedy. Are you proud of me that I know who Jackie Kennedy is?”

    • diblog says:

      Thank you, Angela! And students do keep things interesting, hahaha. (Were you SO proud of that kid? Do you think s/he watches Mad Men?)

  4. Great perspective on Ann Romney and Michelle Obama’s potential perspective on the election.

    We’ve all (I imagine) been in a position to promote our husbands at the expense of our own wishes. I never thought about how the First Ladies might feel in that regard.

    Very thought provoking!
    Kimberly recently posted..I hereby declare…My Profile

    • diblog says:

      Thank you, Kimberly… You’re right, I guess we do have those times when supporting our spouses means giving things up or going out on a limb… just on a smaller scale (thank goodness!).

  5. I wouldn’t want to be first lady either! I want to stay out of it as much as possible. My husband is a youth pastor, and at church sundays, we can’t walk through the halls without stopping for every single person to have their moment with him, when sometimes I’d just like to sit next to him in church. I don’t like sharing! That’s not the only reason, but it’s one. 🙂
    kiki recently posted..A Sudden StopMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Kiki, I can imagine that’s a lot more like being First Lady than most of us have experienced! I hope he’s worth it 😉 (JK, I’m sure he is.)

    • diblog says:

      You’re right, TriGirl, Ann Romney got a BA in French at Brigham Young University. And I couldn’t agree more – if you’re an extrovert, First Lady might be a pretty fun gig!

  6. Very understanding and even-handed post – refreshing in a heated election season. I agree. I would hate being first lady almost as much as I would hate being president – most stressful thankless job ever. I remember and Onion article after the 2008 election with the title “Worst Job in America Given to Black Man.” As far as their wives, I guess you sign up for it when you marry someone with political aspirations (which I suppose both men realized early in life). But I wonder too if today Ann is feeling some sense a relief amid her pity for her husband.
    Kim at Mama Mzungu recently posted..Death Poems and Catwalks: A Graduation CeremonyMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Kim, it DOES seem thankless in a way – so much blame no matter what you’ve accomplished. (Ah, the Onion – so funny but so wise at the same time!)

  7. Yes – I agree with you; I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with such intense, constant scrutiny–and to know that, unlike the scrutiny that goes with being, say, Madonna, a slipup on your part could have policy ramifications. So it’s not just a bad hair day, or a bit too much wine the night before…it’s the end of “easy,” on some level, even as you live in a bubble where everything gets done for you.
    Nice take on this topic -=
    deborah l quinn recently posted..screen shot heard round the worldMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      deborah, exactly – to have everything you do reflect back on the national leader? Yikes. And I don’t feel that they’ve asked for fame/scrutiny in quite the same way that someone like Madonna has.

  8. I love this take on the election. You are so right, these woman have just as much at stake and have worked just as hard to be where they are. What strong women to aspire to. So nice to connect with you through yeah write and NaBloPoMo!
    Julia recently posted..Finding My VoiceMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Tracie, ME TOO! But on the other hand… it would be awful to see your husband lose, too. Maybe it’s better to do 2 terms and be obligated to step down.

  9. berty says:

    1) I’m so relieved about the US election.
    2) Stephen Harper is not MY prime minister. I’ve decided that. He sure doesn’t represent me, and I sure didn’t elect him!
    3) I wonder … if a man *would* go back to being the regular ol’ husband he was before he was president. Would he, do you think? Would it be a little like the people who come back from the wars totally changed?
    4) I also wonder what the dynamic would be for a First Gentleman. Discuss. 🙂
    Good posting, Di. <3

    • diblog says:

      berty,
      1) MOI AUSSI!
      2) I’m with you. Not mine either.
      3) I would like to think so, but you’d HAVE to be different in some ways, once you’ve made history, right?
      4) I think it would be a lot harder for a gentleman than for a lady. He’d have to be a very very special gentleman. (Of course the ladies are special too.)
      thanks. 🙂

  10. I am so with you on this! I’m an introvert. I would snap like a twig if I were in Michelle or Ann’s shoes for 5 minutes. I guess they must really, really want it though. So more power to them. It’s always been kind of a head scratcher to me that Presidential spouses play such a large role in the election.
    Larks recently posted..Election night.My Profile

    • diblog says:

      Larks, I know. It’s a good thing those people are out there – the ones who want to do the extroverted and high-adrenaline jobs. If everyone were like us, it’d be hard to form a government. 🙂

  11. I’m with you. I don’t have the right constitution to be the First Lady. It would be really hard for me to have to agree with my husband ALL THE TIME. Whew, boy…yeah, that’s not happening.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think people that become this famous ever actually go back to a “normal” life. They’ll have Secret Service with them for the rest of their lives. There won’t be many normal quick trips to the grocery. I think it sounds awful.
    The Dose of Reality recently posted..Operation Christmas ChildMy Profile

  12. You bring up a really interesting point. I hadn’t considered how the wives would feel. Sometimes in the heat of the election and the issues it’s easy to forget that those men are people and their wives and families love them as just people, not just as president/candidate.
    Michelle Longo recently posted..7. Accident Prone.My Profile

  13. My dad has a theory that anyone who runs for President is a bit touched because of what they have to go through and endure to get there. I remember thinking that I was glad my dad wasn’t the President because I preferred him as Daddy. I am sure that the whole First Family is exhausted and stressed all the time. Doesn’t sound like fun to me…
    IASoupMama recently posted..Tossing ApplesMy Profile

  14. I love that you step back and take the perspective of the ladies. Watching the Obama family on stage Tuesday night (yay!!), I couldn’t help think about Michelle, and the girls, and how exhausted they must have been. All dressed up – waiting until 1am.

    I think what contributes to Michelle’s popularity here is that is supportive, yet very much her own woman – not a typical politician’s wife. She has her own causes, her own thoughts, her own drive.

    Amy

    I really like your site design!
    Amy I. Bloom recently posted..SilentMy Profile

    • diblog says:

      Amy, I know… what a tiring process for all of them – and yet, unbelievably exciting too. And you’re right about Michelle – she seems like the perfect role model, whether she were married to Barack or not. 🙂

      Thank you for the compliment – I did a redesign at the beginning of September, and my web-designer brother helped me customize the theme based on terrafirma2 by NodeThirtyThree. (I get to pick a different header photo for each season!)

  15. Mama says:

    Oops! This was one of the posts for which the notification got put (inexplicably) in my junk folder. (Okay, Sympatico, diblog has been just fine for over 3 years and it’s STILL just fine – got that???) So this is old news, but I’m going to go ahead anyway. My dad used to say that he wouldn’t trust any man who actually wanted to be the President. Same goes for P.M., eh? As for First Lady, the only reason I can think of for wanting to be that would be so that I could do my total NON-fashion thing and see what happened to the rest of the USA!

    Interesting thoughts, amazing responses – what a lot of thinking, literate, cool Di-hards you have, Di!

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