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What Changes When the Presidential Field Is Full of Mothers

Elizabeth Warren, age 22, with daughter, Amelia.
Photo: Elizabeth Warren Campaign

So far, there are six women running for president of the United States in 2020, and many of the most prominent politicians of the moment are the women of the new congressional class. We are, for the first time in American history, talking about a slew of political leaders who are mothers of young children, mothers of grown children, stepmothers, grandmothers, and not mothers at all. But one of the oddest side effects of this entrance of so many women with their different approaches to parenthood is that I can’t stop thinking about the fathers and non-fathers out there.

Our political history is built around fathers — starting with the forefathers. In the White House alone, we’ve had fathers of one, fathers of 15 (hey, John Tyler), and fathers of none (six presidents have had no children of their own, though some of those, including George Washington, have raised stepchildren). But the perceptions of their fatherhood haven’t mattered that much, largely because the fact of their fatherhood wasn’t necessarily central to their public or political stature.


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