HOW MARRIAGE CAN HELP POLITICIANS
Though there is often only one name on the ballot, the power that ‘dynamic duos’ in politics hold can’t be understated. The advantages and connections these relationships form help each party to advance their careers and provide them a larger platform in which to achieve their goals. Previously just a way to elevate social status and uphold an image of sophistication and elegance, political power couples have evolved to forge alibis and connections that have impacts far beyond the marriage itself.
Due to previous restrictions and societal expectations, political power couples traditionally meant the husband held power in office. Although the wife did not have any executive power, the most famous spouse in the nation, the First Lady, carried a great amount of influence in traditionally feminine things, such as fashion and beauty, as well as global and domestic affairs.
Arguably the most influential political power couple was Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. Despite never having been elected to office, Eleanor Roosevelt was able to leave a lasting legacy on the White House and the nation as a whole. With her husband in the Oval Office, Mrs. Roosevelt was able to raise awareness for feminist issues that were previously ignored.
She was the first First Lady to host a radio talk show and the first to hold press conferences specifically for female reporters. Through her position as First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt was able to continue the social work she had passionately done for her entire life and shed a light on issues that mattered to women during that time.
Her husband’s time as a New York Senator and the state’s Governor had prepared Mrs. Roosevelt to balance the superfluous duties of a political wife with her meaningful charity work. Within that, President Roosevelt’s progressive agenda was often featured by his wife’s efforts. By bringing in marginalized and previously overlooked minority groups into the White House, President Roosevelt made sure the New Deal included them too.
Every President and First Lady since has followed a similar trend of amplifying the issues important to the other. This can also be seen in Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the most talked-about politicians, and though he may not hold the same level of power that he did during the Trump Administration when the Republicans had control of the chamber, he is still one of the most influential Republicans in the country.
Though labeled a hardcore conservative who values America’s priorities over any foreign affairs, his wife Elaine Chao has impacted his thoughts on China. McConnell has often credited his wife, who has a family that conducts business in and with China, for his softer stance on the country, allowing for Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement on foreign policy.
Chao, who was Secretary of Transportation under President Trump, was also able to have the former president’s ear and prepare her husband for anything she might know in advance. This powerful dynamic allowed one couple to have a great sphere of influence over Washington D.C., its leaders, and public policy as a whole.
Recently, political power couples have held onto this influence after leaving office. As seen with the Obamas, an Ivy-League powerhouse whose thirty-year marriage has shown to be an asset in Washington D.C. and beyond. Since leaving the White House, both have written books and gotten exclusive deals, such as podcasts and documentaries. Barack and Michelle Obama’s relationship has proven not just beneficial to their own careers but has shown to be powerful outside of politics as well.
Through elected office and marriage, political power couples have a greater impact than many realize and can impact policy as well as their spouse’s stance on important issues.