Dear Governor Romney,
I hope you will forgive this public entreaty. This is my application for the role of White House chief of staff in the event that you win in November. I've got credentials: my last role was Deputy Director of Strategy to the British Government. True, we don't share the same politics. I'm a Liberal Democrat, in the British sense of the term. But I've noticed that lately you're big on bipartisanship.
In the interests of transparency, I confess that I've also put in for the job if Obama wins. So I'm hedging. But you of all people will understand that.
Just one thing. I've got two children of school age. I won't be able to stay late. In fact, I'll need to leave the White House at 4:30 p.m. every day, so I can get dinner sorted and supervise homework. I assume that's OK? After all, you proudly told us the other night that you offered this kind of flexibility to Beth Myers, your chief of staff in Massachusetts.
Oh, hold on a minute. I've just looked again at what you actually said: "If you're going to have women in the workforce, sometimes you need to be more flexible." More women. But I'm a man. A career man, if you like: a working father. My wife is the breadwinner in our house -- like half the women employed in America today.
I wonder if you will extend the same tolerance to a working father as to a working mother? When it comes to men, your campaign seems to have Aleksei Stakhanov as a role model. Your wife said of you that "no one will work harder to make this country a better place in which to live." The Washington Post reports your "inhuman work ethic." And one of your latest campaign ads highlights Paul Ryan's "Wisconsin work ethic," which I'm guessing doesn't involve a 4:30 p.m. departure.
So, I'm a bit worried now. I fear your mindset is stuck in a world of Dads with briefcases or toolboxes, and Moms with strollers and diaper bags.
Governor Romney, you are a pre-modern man. You think that raising kids and keeping homes is women's work, increasingly combined with getting the paychecks. Women are welcome to bring home the bacon, so long as they don the apron and cook it as well.
This is an unsustainable position. Equality in the workplace is only possible with equality on the home front, too. Fathers need flexibility if mothers are to compete on a level playing field. Most young couples recognize this.
It's not just you, Governor. While the American economy is becoming more feminine by the day, the culture of politics remains dominated by an old-fashioned masculinity.
On balance, then, I suppose I'd better not hold my breath. But if your attitudes towards gender ever catch up with the 21st century, you know where I am -- rushing home to make dinner.