Security Moms? They've got to be kidding. What mother isn't a Security Mom? Long before Bush and Kerry started targeting this "demographic," trying to prove who is better suited to protect our children, we mothers were already out here on security detail for our families.
Pundits claim Security Moms --- a group, they say, of both Soccer Moms (married, affluent) and Pink-Collar Moms (working-class, some single) --- are swing voters who will vote for the man they think will protect their families from terrorism and other Big Bad Dangers.
Let's just carefully step over the steaming pile of inaccurate, pandering monikers and think about this rationally. We mothers (and fathers) don't look to politicians to protect our kids. They haven't so far. All we want from pols is an environment where there are good jobs so we can live somewhere nice, affordable health insurance to pay the pediatrician, and excellent daycare. We'll take it from there.
The threats against our kids --- from international terrorists to neighborhood pedophiles --- will not vary depending on who wins in November. And politicians on the stump who target so-called Security Moms, using fear and false reassurances to manipulate our votes, are just fooling themselves. Plus, it's not what the dangers are; it's how we prepare for them that counts.
I have a lot more in common with President Bush than I care to admit. And I don't just mean the bowlegged walk and low IQ. We've both turned the world into a scary place for the people we are supposedly trying to protect.
In a twist on the old adage that a person with a hammer approaches everything as if it were a nail, we've both used our paranoia to redefine the world around us. And that has led us to a more precarious situation, both at home and in Iraq.
Bush sees enemies everywhere. I see pedophiles everywhere.
In his rush to define the world in terms of evildoers, Bush has fostered anti-American hatred and violence. In my rush to define the world in terms of people who want to harm my kids, I've frightened my children and kept them sheltered from the very world they need to learn to navigate. Whether or not we're right, we've both mishandled these perceived threats.
Bush started his tenure as president by alienating other nations --- snubbing the Kyoto Protocol and refusing to sign the landmine treaty. After 9/11, he destroyed the enormous bank of global goodwill toward America by unilaterally charging into battle with the wrong foe. Bush, now the poster boy for recruiting anti-American forces worldwide, has made his paranoid vision of the world come true.
I started my tenure as mother by overprotecting my kids, having been pulled off my bike and into a car by some creep when I was 10. (That's what we called pedophiles back then: creeps.) Just as Bush feels justified in the incomprehensible decisions he's made, the recent arrests of several pedophiles in greater Rochester make me feel justified in freaking out about my kids' safety.
How else should a concerned parent react? These creeps aren't just of the troglodytic, living-in-their-elderly-mother's-basement variety. They're the people we deal with everyday. A pediatrician at Strong Hospital. A Monroe County sheriff's deputy. A school administrator and a classroom aide. A revered gynecologist. A pastor. And a bowling coach (OK, maybe we could have seen that coming).
Along with "Security Moms" everywhere, I may have increased the dangers facing my kids. Parents' justified fear of strangers and acquaintances has made us so paranoid we're raising our kids like hothouse flowers. We watch over them constantly, fending off any actual experiences they may encounter and never giving them a chance to find their own way. We lock them in the backyard like pets, turning residential streets --- once ringing with shrieks and bouncing balls --- into empty roads. In fact, a lone child outside becomes an instant target; it's slim pickings for pedophiles these days.
In contrast, when today's parents were little, we were chased out of the house and told, "Don't come back until dinner." By the time that creep reached through the window of his shiny brown sedan and lifted me off my bike, I had had years of unsupervised adventures. Chased by dogs. Thrown on the ground countless times by a bully. Become lost while riding my bike. So even though --- or maybe because --- no one had taught me about "stranger danger," I wasn't scared. I was mad. I kicked and screamed and got the hell out of that car.
But kids today aren't road tested. They've had no chance to face danger and fight it off. They stay inside and listen to us and child safety experts talking about the bad people out there who want to hurt them. It's not just strangers, we tell them, but people they love and trust. They are taught that no one except the doctor should touch them in their "bathing-suit areas." (Oh, yeah. Except for that one pediatrician, the kiddie-porn fan with the four computers. Don't let him touch you there.)
The Security Mom, as an archetype, is us. She's the Soccer Moms and the Office Park Dads, the NASCAR Dads and the Pink-Collar Moms. Her ideals are the ideals of civilization: to nurture and protect the next generation. Everything else is just frosting on the cake. If our kids make it to adulthood without being fondled or killed in an unnecessary war, society will have triumphed.
Of course, we Security Moms are going to want a little back, after all we've done. A card on our birthday would be nice. Maybe a visit on Thanksgiving.