America has become obsessed with knowing everything about everyone. It can be seen through the ratings of “Teen Mom” and “Jersey Shore” or splattered across the cover of the most recent issues of magazines. Pop culture has always shaped our society in more ways than not.
People talk. And what they like to talk about, is other people. This is no different within the confines of politics. So when the question, “Do we need to hear from the candidate’s spouse?” arises, people tend to realize that it’s more “want” than “need.”
Some of the first ladies like Jacqueline Kennedy and Pat Nixon have created a bit of an ideal in terms of the way people think about our first ladies. Many expect the simple smile and graceful wave accompanied with holding hands with their political partner.
But many have stood out from that mold over the years, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Nellie Taft, and have since made it more of a requirement that the candidates’ wives speak on their husband’s behalf. Even more so, people now are expecting their potential first ladies to be as politically aware as their husbands and with good reason.
Over the last two decades, the anticipated “Spouse’s Speech,” at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, has highlighted the nights. The need to hear from the wives of the candidates has varied depending on the candidate. Certain elections required more press, such as with the last election and the potential of the first black president. This is where the spouses step in.
As with any politically minded person, they would want to hear the stance of a potential guiding force for their country. However, these speeches that these wives make are almost entirely promoting and praising their husband. The issues aren’t addressed as one would hope, and any talk of standpoints is those of their husbands.
I admire Michelle Obama, however, for this reason in terms of the 2008 campaign. Despite her academic background and professional credentials, which compared to that of her husband and previous opinionated statements throughout the campaign, she took to the spouse’s speech the way everyone expects.
This at first disappointed me, but looked at from the viewpoint of collecting voters, I began to understand that she needed to lessen her own accomplishments and promote those of her husband to reassure Americans of his worthiness. The way I see the success of this is through the fact that many talk about the historical moment in which President Obama became the first African American president, yet little even realize the monumental feat that was becoming the first African American First Lady.
Despite these expectations, people still anticipate, look forward to and in a way “need” to hear from the spouses, because this year women are the main voting demographic to reach for. It’s a fact that women relate more easily to other women. This is what the parties are betting on, and they’re playing their best hands.