Nobody, even those who know nothing else of party conventions, would expect them to be child-friendly affairs – unless we’re talking about the children of the candidates, in which case it’s just a night when your mom or dad gives a big speech and a bunch of strangers applaud for you for no reason. Apparently both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are so unfriendly to children that Gloria Steinem decided to get involved:
Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women. It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.
Damn, Gloria. Didn’t you use to be one of the leading voices against the “children are the key to women” mentality?
Anyway, convention organizers are now blind to the existence of children because they won’t allow them on the convention floor, which is only open to credentialed delegates. Susie Shannon, a California delegate, has started a pushback against the DNC’s version of this rule. Of course, she phrased it more sensibly than Steinem: “It’s either allow children on the floor or provide child care.” The closest the DNC has come to the latter is offering a list of nearby day cares to delegates, while an RNC spokesman said that the child of a delegate could “in theory” obtain floor credentials.
If I were the type of person who would ever be caught dead at a national party convention, I would never want to bring a child of day care age (i.e. too young to hang out in a hotel alone) with me on the floor, especially not an infant. The DNC cites “security and capacity reasons” as being behind their policy. Even leaving those aside, it would distract the delegates, bore the piss out of the kids and annoy all the childless people. The only advantage is that they’re right next to you.
The absurdity of that idea now established, let’s consider Shannon’s suggestion of convention-provided child care. Now this I can get behind. Consider that, at least on the Democratic side, delegates must pay for their own travel and accommodation. If they can afford to do this with children, they can afford to pay a few bucks a day for the children to stay in a room with toys, books, computers, videos and a few minders. It doesn’t need to be extravagant.
And on-site day care isn’t an unreasonable demand. Unlike candidates and party elites, many of these people don’t have anyone at home with whom to trust their children. Providing them with this much extra help would be an acknowledgement that their circumstances exist, as well as their kids.