Whether you agree with him or not, you’re probably familiar with President Obama’s views on gender issues. You know that he’s noted the growing number of women as breadwinners, that he openly supported several efforts to keep women working at fair wages, and that he prioritized birth control coverage for women under his Affordable Care Act.
You can’t say the same for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The problem is, you can hardly say anything about his perspectives on women’s issues. Many have speculated about how Romney’s Mormonism could affect his positions, wondering whether the patriarchal structure of his faith will echo in his policy decisions regarding gender issues. But he’s spoken so sparingly about his religion and women’s issues that that’s all you can do -- speculate and wonder.
Or you can demand some answers. This week, New America Schwartz Fellow Liza Mundy called on Romney to talk more about his Mormonism, and clarify how it influences his politics in an article for Zocalo Public Square. While giving an overview of the principles of Mormonism -- the emphasis on family life, the father’s duty to provide and the mother’s responsibility to nurture -- Mundy argued that Romney’s choice to downplay his religion renders him a “blank slate.”
“Hiring a president is not like hiring a corporate manager, whose spiritual life needn't concern us. It's not even like hiring a governor. We deserve to know our presidential candidates, to have them explain to us their formative experiences, associations, and influences. Mormonism has clearly been important to Romney throughout his life. What that means for a Romney presidency is a legitimate question: one we shouldn't be left to draw our own conclusions about.”
Mundy thinks Romney’s beliefs could lead to several scenarios, depending on the principles he favors and how he applies them. The sanctity of family life could prompt Romney to insist that employers create more opportunities for working mothers to spend time with their children. Or, the emphasis of women as nurturers could mean he’ll only make things more difficult for working moms. Until Romney comes out about his beliefs and the ways they affect his stances on these issues, we simply won’t know.
Read Mundy’s full article here.