Last weekend, I caught a piece of the 106th presidential debate. Well, that’s what it seemed like. It occurred to me, the debate I really want to watch is one that features the candidate’s spouses, all on the same stage, and I want to hear them share what their official White House “cause” would be.
This custom dates back to the days of Dolley Madison who championed issues related to orphans back in the early 1800’s. It’s really fascinating the role First Ladies have played in shaping many of our country’s policies around human rights, the environment, and health care including mental health.
In a poll of Facebook friends, I asked what their cause would be if they were the First Spouse. The first thing that struck me was the connection between cause and career for so many of my respondents: access to health care from a nurse; elimination of capital punishment from a law enforcement officer, “something for education and children” from a teacher, and decriminalization of certain drugs from a public health worker are some examples. Multiple folks chose hunger, infrastructure, a reinforcement of family values, and the big winner – mental health. (See the entire list at the end of this post.)
All of this made me wonder what causes the spouses of our current candidates might champion. So in no particular order, this is what I’ve learned about each including a wee background:
Candy Carsons – Yale graduate, concert violinist, favorite cause is education and “she wears her evangelical heart on her sleeve” (thehill.com).
Heidi Cruz – Stepped away from an accomplished career in public service as her husband’s political career advanced; most recently, a Goldman Sachs investment manager. No mention of social issues/ interests in anything I read.
Jeanette Rubio – Former Miami Dolphins cheerleader (only one year) who most recently worked for a Miami billionaire who is her husband’s largest donor. A favorite cause seems to be the youth sex trade.
Columba Bush – Moved to the US from Mexico when she married Jeb. Causes appear to be domestic violence, alcohol/ drug addiction and the arts.
Melania Trump – From Slovenia, former model who likes a life of opulence and has released a line of anti-aging cosmetics and luxury jewelry. No mention of any social causes.
Karen Kasich – Professional background in healthcare PR/ marketing; primary cause is health and fitness; also has promoted after school and anti-drug programs.
Bill Clinton – Lots of humanitarian causes like HIV/ AIDS; public health; poverty and climate change.
Jane O’Meara Sanders – Social worker with PhD in leadership and policy; former college president of Burlington College, huge into social justice issues.
Wouldn’t it be fun to hear these eight spouses convince us why their cause has the most merit? Do they expect to influence their spouse on matters related to this issue, as many previous first ladies did? How would each of us be impacted personally as well as our communities, our country and the world? Maybe rather than standing behind stiff podiums, they’d be sitting on comfortable chairs, and Laura Bush and Michelle Obama would moderate, and no one would wear a red tie; well, maybe Bill would. There would be no name calling, and no one would be a loser. A couple of the spouses would clearly balk at the idea – they don’t even like that their spouses have chosen a career in politics and they have no interest in the limelight, but that doesn’t matter because this debate is not likely to ever happen.
But what if it did occur, would it influence your voting? And what would your cause be? See the list below for what my friends identified and please, use the comment feature to add your own cause to the list.
- *Access and equality of health care
- Children/ education
- STEM education, esp for girls
- Animal cruelty
- Decriminalizing injection drug use
- *Family values – restoring respect and common decency; do unto others…
- Eliminating capital punishment
- Access to healthy, organic food
- Voting reform
- Vitality for seniors
- *Reining in pharmaceutical companies
- *Mental Health, which is my choice as well
- Campaign finance reform
- Neighborhood walking programs
- * = more than 1 response