Two of my favorite writers, Democracy‘s Mike Tomasky and TNR’s Jonathan Cohn, have now both urged Hillary Clinton to make advocacy of paid family leave a touchstone of her putative 2016 presidential campaign. You can add my name to that particular petition.
Yes, the Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbies would savagely fight anything that looked like an entitlement to paid family leave supplied by employers. But it would represent a real challenge to cultural conservatives who have promoted a dystopic vision of the public sector as the enemy of the nuclear family. And there’s hardly any social problem in this country that isn’t exacerbated by the struggle of young parents–and particularly mothers–to make ends meet while raising kids. Raising the issue of paid family leave is a direct and unmistakable way to remind Americans they don’t really believe in laissez-faire capitalism, whatever their fears of Big Government or their disappointment with the current economy. And as both Tomasky and Cohn argue, it’s an issue that should appeal to HRC’s lifelong sense of mission in addressing the problems of vulnerable children.