Tresa Bennett, June 16, 2023
This Sunday is Father’s Day. In becoming a national holiday, it has a long and storied past. Most credit Sonora Louise Smart Dodd for the idea, who thought of it after listening to a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909. At the time, her father was a widower and single father of six. For decades, proponents of Father’s Day struggled over many hurdles. It was finally recognized as a national holiday in 1972 in a proclamation by President Richard Nixon — a nice touch to his re-election campaign.
As mentioned, Dodd’s father was the inspiration for Father’s Day. William Jackson Smart fought for both North and South in the Civil War. Dodd described Smart as both father and mother, remembering his parenting as “a great home person and a man who exemplified fatherly love and protection.” In 1909, fathers were rarely acknowledged as caregivers and nurturers. The beginnings of Father’s Day are true and sincere.
Father’s Day Gift Ideas: Paternity Leave and Better Pay
The nature of Father’s Day certainly changed once it became an official holiday. In 2022, U.S. consumers spent $20 billion dollars on Father’s Day. Gifts included special outings, gift cards, clothes and electronics. The national holiday has turned out great for retailers, but let’s not forget what motivated Dodd.
Similar to Smart, a father today must also be “a great home person” to show fatherly love and protection. Currently, the U.S. has no federal law guaranteeing paid parental leave. An attempt at such a law died in late 2021, along with the Build Back Better Act, which had included it. In spite of Father’s Day spending, only six percent of retail jobs paid parental leave in 2016. As a powerfully influential think tank, the Heritage Foundation opposes a federal law for such leave. They prefer that private companies choose a policy of their own making, though the result is no policy. The lack of a national policy for parental leave significantly affects a father’s ability to be “a great home person.” The Heritage Foundation has spent $3.9 million lobbying the government on various issues since 2016, and opposing parental leave is among those issues.
As with Smart, millions of today’s fathers are veterans or serving in the military. From 2017-2019, an estimated 1.2 million veterans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Even worse, 24 % of active-duty military in 2020 were food insecure, as the US Department of Defense reported. Meanwhile, the military budget grew to $816.7 billion in 2023. This massive budget results from defense industry lobbying, $126 million in 2022. Apparently, the industry isn’t terribly concerned about hungry military personnel or vets.
Fathers need more than lip-service and a national holiday to care for their families. Meanwhile, the national holiday certainly serves the retail industry well.
You Can Do Something about It!
Now, before we wish anyone a happy Father’s Day, let’s be mindful of the special interests that buy inaction on better pay and paternity leave — let’s remember that big money spent on lobbying and political donations can keep fathers from being the best dads they can. On this Father’s Day, please consider joining or donating to Wolf-PAC. AND, as a special for this month of June, you can participate in our Step-up Challenge. This includes our Run Money Out of Politics fun run on the 28th of the month. Together, we can do something about our rotten political system.
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- Feeding America Staff. (2023, May 24). Military Hunger. Feeding America Action. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://feedingamericaaction.org/learn/issue-areas/military-hunger/
- Glass, A. J. (2012, April 24). Nixon recognizes Father’s Day as an official holiday, April 24, 1972. Politico. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://www.politico.com/story/2012/04/this-day-in-politics-075490
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- Hall, L. (2021). SNAP Helps 1.2 Million Low-Income Veterans, Including Thousands in Every State. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/snap-helps-12-million-low-income-veterans-including-thousands-in-every
- History Staff. (2018, June 14). The Man Who Inspired Father’s Day Was a Single Dad and a Civil War Vet. History. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://www.history.com/news/man-who-inspired-fathers-day-civil-war-vet-single-dad
- Law School Staff. (2023, March 31). Paternity Leave in the U.S. Leaves a Lot of Gaps. Tulane University Law School. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://online.law.tulane.edu/blog/paternity-leave-for-fathers#:~:text=Despite%20the%20clarity%20of%20this,unpaid%20leave%20for%20new%20parents
- OpenSecrets Staff. (n.d.-a). Defense. OpenSecrets. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?Ind=D
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- Statista Staff. (2022, June 2). U.S. Father’s Day expenditure by category 2022. Statista. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/438078/us-father-s-day-expenditure-by-category/
- Tennyson, T. & Veteran.com Team. (2023). 2023 Defense Budget. Veteran.com. https://veteran.com/2023-defense-budget/
- Wise, A. (2021, October 29). Paid family leave gets slashed as Democrats try to reach consensus on spending plan. NPR. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from https://www.npr.org/2021/10/29/1050294669/paid-family-leave-gets-slashed-as-democrats-try-to-reach-consensus-on-spending-p