I recently saw a photo of President Barack Obama kissing an infant on his political campaign. The image was not all that impressive. In fact it was very standard. The president held a small infant high in the air to his face and gave it a nice smootch on the forehead. The President then smiled and handed the baby back to his mother. The more I thought about the idea of politicians kissing babies, the stranger the notion became. Are we all really gullible enough to have our vote swayed by this iconic gesture?
History of the Political Baby Kiss
So where did all this baby kissing madness begin? The answer may surprise you. Baby kissing goes as far back as Andrew Jackson. Paul F. Boller noted this instance in his book Presidential Campaigns:
“Here is a beautiful specimen of young American childhood,” said Jackson obligingly. “Note the brightness of that eye, the great strength of those limbs, and the sweetness of those lips.” Then he handed the baby to his friend John Eaton. “Kiss him, Eaton,” he cried, and walked away.
Jackson himself did not kiss the baby, but he had a friend kiss the baby instead. The mother apparently was overjoyed by this gesture and thus began the political baby kiss. It is obvious why a politician would want to be photographed or seen kissing an infant. It shows they are compassionate and that they are valuing the smaller things in life. I mean, who could really be made at a person kissing a small, innocent infant?
But What About Germs?
This led me to start thinking … would I allow a politician to kiss my baby? The answer is a simple no. I would never allow a stranger to hold my baby, let alone kiss them. All I would be thinking the whole time is how many hands he/she shook before approaching my baby. I can already envision the thoughts in my head … Who were those people? Did they wash their hands before coming here? How many people’s hands did he shake? Did he bring sanitizer? Did he kiss another baby? Honestly, based on the passing of germs alone I could not foresee myself handing over my little one.
Even if I did decide to hand over the baby, why would I do it? By offering my child for a photo op with the candidate would I be contributing to the notion that we are gullible enough to place a vote based off these political gestures? I am certain most people are not swayed by these images, but what about the few that are? Should I contribute to this?
Is the Baby Kiss Influential?
Personally, I feel people should vote for a candidate based off their stance on key issues and their proven record in voting for and upholding those issues that they find most important. We should not be bogged down by the formalities of the process.
So what are your thoughts on baby kissing? Would you allow a candidate to kiss your baby? Do you feel that baby kissing is used to remove focus from the real issues or am I over analyzing?