The box office appeal of the American political spouseSeptember 5, 2012 2:08 PM
The role of the spouse in the U.S. election campaign is a truly made-in-America political phenomenon.
Can you imagine Stephen Harper's wife, Laureen, or Tom Mulcair's wife, Catherine Pinhas, making major political speeches like Michelle Obama and Ann Romney?
It is just not the Canadian way.
Sure, the Canadian spouses campaign. They give the odd interview or speech in support of a cause. They help shape an image of the candidate. But nothing like what we've seen in the last two weeks in the U.S.
Some pundits here have commented that the wives are more popular than the husbands.
While cynics have noted that a presidential race cannot, should not and will not be decided by speeches that sometimes seem like a contest to prove who loves her husband more, there can be no doubting the box office appeal of these women on the campaign.
Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night broke all social media records. While she spoke, 28,000 tweets per minute were pumped out.
Twenty-two million people tuned in to watch Ann Romney's address at the Republican National Convention.
Both women belted out powerful, personal narratives about their husbands that led nicely into the policy arguments of each man.
The personal is so often political in this country in a way we just don't see in Canada.
And Americans love their own story. Every presidency has its own narrative - Kennedy's Camelot, the Reagan revolution.
The "first" family - even the "first" pets - take on iconic roles in the nation's story of the time.
There are no such labels for the family of the Canadian prime minister.
While it is fun to muse on the differences between campaigning political spouses in Canada and the U.S., the real amusement will come when we are writing about the role of the "first" men in these races.