A video made its way around Twitter recently showing Supreme Court Justice-to-be Amy Coney Barrett ushering her troop of seven children to her minivan. The video begins with A.C.B. walking through her front door, hand-in-hand with her nine year old Juliet who is explaining something to her mother with the expressive hand gestures and belabored breath that are typical when a nine year old explains anything. Then, at around the 15 second mark, Juliet stops. Her mouth shuts, her hands fall to her sides, and her eyes shoot forward.
What caused such a dramatic change in behavior? Juliet, amidst her enthralling discussion with her mother, momentarily glanced across the street to see a cameraman filming their march to the family car.
Little Juliet, along with the other six Barrett children, is now thrust into America’s vision. There is no doubt that the Barretts have instilled a newly-introduced discipline on their kids such that zero tolerance is allotted to any misbehavior. They have to. Every time a child acts up in public is a new club with which the opposition can bash the parents. You can almost write the headlines in your head: “Nation’s Next Justice Can’t Control Own Household;” “Could Chaos in the Home Mean Chaos on the Bench?” You get the picture.
This issue spans both time and political affiliation. Recently, the daughter of Kellyanne and George Conway has experienced a wave of negative attention because of her parent’s political bickering. In a public breakdown on TikTok and Twitter, Claudia Conway said heinous things about her own mother over mere social politics and even went so far as to call for her own emancipation. The Left cheered the disintegration of this family. After realizing the broken state of their family, both George and Kellyanne have decided to step away from politics temporarily to mend the familial tear.
The scrutiny these kids face is terrifyingly constant. In 2016, Malia Obama was caught smoking a joint at a music festival. Normally, no one pays a moment’s thought to the thousands of other kids smoking weed at music festivals, but because of Malia’s father, the story made national news. Right-wing commentators clutched their pearls and questioned how President Obama could ever let this happen. Malia presumably never asked to be thrust into the spotlight, instead she was born into a culture where absolute discipline is necessary, and a camera is always near.
It is often the case that this behavioral deviance is somehow seen as a reflection on the parent’s ability to perform their role in government. This is often an incorrect assumption as Malia smoking a joint hardly reflects on President Obama’s performance as a president. It is hard to say that Malia’s rebellion resulted from bad parenting moreso than a resistance to her socially stifling situation.
This watchful eye has an obvious effect. It is evidenced in the instantaneous correction of behavior by Juliet Barrett. It is exceedingly obvious when Claudia Conway, who after 3 years of being in the public eye, exhibits a horrendous state of emotional crisis. Bentham’s theoretical panopticon of constant prisoner surveillance has been ruled unethical in ethics circles. Yet, what has been deemed too far beyond the pale of humanity for prisoners is precisely what has been foisted upon these children.
It would be hard to blame the parents. They strove for the positions they’ve achieved and probably assumed a modicum of reverence would be extended to their children. Instead, those culpable are the vultures who would use a child’s existence to levy attacks at political enemies. These kids are otherwise innocent and apolitical. As the scrutiny grows deeper and more persistent, the already under-developed mental and emotional capacities of these children grow more permanently wounded. In the words of Pink Floyd, “Leave them kids alone.”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.