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Tomorrow my country will swear in its 45th president, a man who publicly and routinely contradicts its constitution, its treaties, and even himself. A lot of people are saying it’s the inauguration we deserve, but I disagree. It may be the inauguration we asked for, whether by vote or by complacency, but I don’t think it’s the inauguration we deserve.
Let me tell you about the inauguration I think we deserve.
Our president-elect stands before the cameras on a normal American’s stoop and places his hand not on a Bible, but on a pregnant woman’s womb. She invites him to recite his oath, swearing on the life of that unborn child that he will protect this country.
He repeats this oath every day, each time placing his hand on the fluttering bump of another ordinary American mom.
Every congressperson takes their oath in the same respect, renewing it each morning. The first meeting on their agenda is a briefing from the Mother-In-Residence. She’s a different constituent every day, chosen to reflect the actual ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the country. (Of course, in this world Congress no longer holds session in DC – representatives all reside and work from their electing districts to promote accountability and prevent cronyism. Thank goodness technology makes long-distance collaboration possible!) Oh, and did I mention that for this one day of work she is justly paid?
In their breakfast briefing she reports her concerns, her needs, her suggestions. She offers encouragement if needed, and gives hell when warranted as only a mom can.
And she shadows this representative throughout the entire workday. Her children are guests of honor, and out of respect all meetings and debates only use language they can understand. (Certainly the C-SPAN viewers at home also appreciate this accommodation.)
At the end of the day she logs into the Mothers-In-Residence blog and leaves her reflections, along with a grade combined from several categories: Preparedness, Sincerity, Cooperation with Colleagues, Consistency with Platform, Loyalty to Nature. These daily grades are averaged at the end of each term to provide an authoritative rating of each public servant’s public service. It is quite handy when election time rolls back around.
Oh, and if the congressperson skips a session – which they currently do at epidemic rates – no worries! Madame Mother-In-Residence can take over with full voting privileges.
Naturally these moms are qualified to take such action and make such assessments, because all citizens graduate high school with an Associate’s degree in Political Science. Yes, starting at the age of 13, every American student, citizen or not, takes one class per semester in public policy. The same classes are available on a rolling basis at every city hall for homeschooled and continuing ed students, new citizens, and anyone in need of a refresher. It’s quite the social affair!
This way all U.S. residents earn a higher degree without the burden of student debt, and more importantly, they enter society prepared to participate in democracy – whether or not they can afford to spend an extra four plus years fussing with elite programs and unpaid internships. In short, everyone knows their representatives; they know the bills being debated in real time. Teens know who’s worked for whom and who’s passed what well before they cast their first vote.
So if everyone is politically versed, why the emphasis on this rainbow of mothers? Why not recruit a greater sampling of citizens to heal the governing organs of our body politic?
Hopefully we will get to that point, but for now we’re obliged to overcorrect. Our government was literally designed as a patriarchy – an institution of men, conferring only with men. Obviously we’ve made strides, but we’re still nowhere near gender parity. The female and trans candidates who do break in have to do it on the terms of long-dead men, and men who still believe that democracy can survive on the brilliance of Founding Fathers alone.
But they are wrong about that. Our foundation needs the brilliance of mothers, too.
And yet the biological reality of motherhood has kept so many of us from engaging deeply in civic service, since well before the United States was even scratched onto a globe. We must make it easier for moms to exert their influence beyond the home, even if that means each of us doing it one day at a time.
Because we naturally think 100 years ahead about everything.
Because we are the backbone of the average household, America’s microcosm.
Because we fuel the economy by bearing and raising its workers, making the majority of family purchases, and in many cases having several careers of our own.
Because our partners and children and parents and clients confide in us and lean on us.
Because our level of health and security reflects our society’s investment in human rights.
Because the womb is our real homeland, the one thing we all have in common. Touching it, remembering it, honoring it – there is magic in that. Saying so no more belittles the non-wombed than it would shame a flower to praise an apple’s sweetness.
I will watch the inauguration tomorrow. I will not wallow in self-pity or dread. When the pain boils up I’ll look at my daughter – an intelligent, loving, morally awake young citizen – put my hand on my own womb, and swear loyalty to her.
Day after day, I’ll do it again.