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It's All Politics
Sat November 10, 2012
Why Election Day Was Sort Of Like Mother's Day
I'd like to thank Carol Shea-Porter, Ann McLane Kuster, Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, Maggie Hassan and ... Jocelyn Chertoff.
On Tuesday, Democrats Shea-Porter and McLane Kuster won congressional seats from New Hampshire. They'll join Democratic Sen. Shaheen and Republican Sen. Ayotte in the nation's capital in January when the 113th Congress convenes — giving New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation all-female congressional delegation.
Also on Tuesday, the voters of my home state chose Hassan, a Democrat, to become their new governor. As the The New York Times notes, New Hampshire thus "becomes the first state that is primarily helmed, politically, by women."
Chertoff? She's my mom, a hospital physician in the Granite State. (Through her work in health care policy, she's been a supporter of President Obama. I wanted to get that out there, but this personal shout-out has nothing to do with political affiliation; it's about gender and a few lessons learned growing up in New Hampshire.)
My mother worked full time when my brother, sister and I were young. It never seemed significant, but she recently told me and my sister that she chose a full-time career over the option of part-time work — and more time at home — not just for economic reasons, but because she wanted us to see firsthand that as women, we could have both family and career.
It may seem like a small thing, but I was struck by how alike my mother had been with the women we're writing about this week. The New York Times, in its Motherlode parenting blog, notes that New Hampshire's new political leadership — the entire congressional delegation and incoming governor — is made up of five mothers, each of whom began her political career while raising young children:
"All ran for office or served in some capacity while their children were younger. These aren't women who came to politics when their children were grown, but career lawyers and politicians with longstanding ambitions and long histories — and with families ...
"The matter-of-fact presence of five family women in one state's positions of political power is a reminder of just how much things have evolved. You have to imagine that each of these five women has struggled with fitting in all of her obligations at some point; has taken the call from the dentist, from three states away, saying her child has his first cavity; has ached to fit in a workout; has looked at her spouse and realized that the question isn't just "How was your day?" but "How was your week?" Snow days, sick days, birthdays: whether those things were managed by a spouse, or by a nanny, or by juggling them with a phone in one hand and a baby in the other isn't particularly important.
"What's important is how normal all of that has become."
And Ayotte, a rising GOP star and former state attorney general who was elected to the Senate in 2010 and was on the short list to be Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, has two young children right now.
While New Hampshire is getting much of the attention, women ran for a record number of offices this year nationwide, and won in record numbers. Twenty women will be part of the new U.S. Senate, an all-time high.
So thanks, Carol Shea-Porter, Ann McLane Kuster, Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan.
And thanks, Mom.
Elizabeth Brown is an intern on NPR's Washington Desk.