If you’re cynical about politics — and who can blame you — seeing heartwarming images of Kamala Harris with her niece, or hearing about Joe Biden visiting his son’s grave, might not move you. After all, these people are politicians, right? Don’t they make a career out of managing their public persona? And yet, even if you were deeply cynical, and you believed every gesture of warmth of affection from Biden and Harris was calculated, it’s a fun time to revisit this quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Be careful what you pretend to be because that’s what you really are.”
Even if politicians have various motives in making themselves look good, the incoming Biden administration is doing a good job signaling to the working families of America that this administration represents them, not to the interest of self-entitled rich people.
When Joe Biden named Antony Bliken to be his nominee for the new Secretary of State, many experts praised his diplomatic chops and cited that he was Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration. In other words, the dude has a good resume, and is a seasoned veteran of federal politics.
But, as the writer Samantha Power pointed out, the one thing that can’t get lost in this — at least for parents — is the fact that Antony Bliken is the father of two toddlers.
If the Biden administration is making sure that the American people are represented, having a Secretary of State who is raising toddlers is actually a pretty big deal. I’m not saying that Grandpa Joe doesn’t care about little kids, clearly, he does. It’s just the idea that Blinken, the top diplomat, representing the United States, has little kids, makes you feel like he already gets it.
There’s a very special kind of time management and stress management that is unique to toddler parents. This isn’t to say that 6-year-olds and 15-year-olds don’t have their own specific set of challenges, it’s just that terrible twos and the “threenager” years are years that test parents and, arguably, change them.
Having someone as Secretary of State who knows what it’s like to be a parent of toddlers feels like the kind of representation that matters for parents. Biden, Harris, and Blinken will need to do a lot of political maneuvering to do their jobs effectively — and who knows how to do difficult maneuvers better than the parents of toddlers?
But it’s important to remember that Blinken’s toddlers aren’t a political ploy. They are part of who he is. He’s not going to forget their names in a press conference. He’s going to remember his tiny kinds while he’s doing his job. And in that way, hopefully, he’ll bring that mix of gentleness and firmness that every toddler dad tries to cultivate.
And, on the plus side for everyone else, hopefully, some adorable Zoom-bombs from these kids is coming really soon. The world is (literally) watching.