On her first day back at The View after giving birth to Liberty Sage, Meghan McCain stirred up some controversy in an unexpected way: by agreeing with her co-hosts about paid maternity leave. It was quite a refreshing moment on the talk show, witnessing five women come together about a topic we believe in so strongly — and we’re wondering what advocates can do to re-create this bipartisan agreement on family leave among legislators too.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with how McCain’s revelation came about — namely, the fact that she had to have an emergency C-section and remained in the hospital for postpartum preeclampsia for a week after Liberty’s birth.
“It really, really kicked my butt,” she said on the show. “I was planning on coming back to the show for the election in six weeks after I gave birth and I was physically unable to. I had to have my husband and my mother-in-law help me do everything, from shower to eat — it was deeply humbling — and to help me take care of Liberty. The whole time I was thinking what a privilege it is to have this kind of maternity leave. And then as I thought about it, the more angry I got that there weren’t women in the rest of America that had the same kind of luxury that I had working here at The View. Then I started getting more and more angry that conservatives, in particular, given that we are the party of family values … that we are leaving women in this country without the capacity and ability, unless you have an employer that allows you to, to take care of your child, to heal physically, which is something that needs to happen.”
McCain’s co-hosts were the first to point out a couple of issues with her line of thinking: That this has been a problem most of them have been speaking about for years, and that fathers also need paid family leave, given how modern families work. The Twitterverse also exploded with critiques of the fact that conservatives like McCain only come around to revelations like this when a problem affects them personally, and they completely lack the empathy to see why, say, systemic racism and poverty are also worthy of attention. Why couldn’t McCain have thought this way before it happened to her?
People with empathy get on board right away. I don’t need to have a baby to understand the plight of moms. I don’t need cancer to understand the plight of the ill. I just need to care about others and listen.
— pattyanne (@pattylind007) January 4, 2021
At the same time, she had defenders, even among liberals.
I am a mom of two older kiddos and a social worker. While understanding our privilege is vital, no one should fault you for figuring out things as you go. You had an experience that made you aware of a struggle and you used your platform to bring attention to it. Yay you!!😊
— Jennifer (@Jennife90788873) January 5, 2021
“It is, after all, human nature — not conservative nature — for people to become more attuned to problems when they experience them personally,” political blogger Kevin Drum wrote on Mother Jones. “When we find an ally, we should welcome them even if they’re allies only on one or two issues.”
Our take? Yes, we are very glad to see someone like McCain take a stand for maternity leave. No, we do not get why this would ever be a partisan issue. But she can’t just pay lip service to the cause, the way Ivanka Trump has done before her. This has to be followed up with real conversations with real congressional representatives. For that matter, we’d like to see her pressure people like her husband, Federalist co-founder Ben Domenech, to write pieces that bring more Republican men around to her way of thinking. If Republicans retain control of the Senate, we need constituents of Republican senators to put the pressure on Mitch McConnell to allow a family leave law to come up for a vote. If laws are passed that only allow for maternity leave, we need to keep pushing to give those same rights to all parents.
In other words, take this fight beyond Twitter and daytime TV, please. Take it to the people who haven’t had children, and who might never have children, and who always complain about how much policies like this cost. Show them what not having policies like this cost them. Those of us who are far outside the conservative fold clearly have no idea how one goes about doing this.
These gorgeous photos show moms who love their postpartum bodies.