Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sarah Palin Does Not Speak for Me

When I started this blog, it was intended to be a way for family and friends to keep up with our life in Alaska. Although those of you who know me well know that I have always been pretty left wing in my politics ("voting Democratic is a move to the right for me," is my favorite quote), I have specifically chosen not to write a lot about politics in the blog. My family and good friends run the gamut of the political spectrum and I did not want this blog to be a vehicle of discord and argument. Although I may not always agree with the thoughts and opinions of everyone who reads this, I think it is fine to agree to disagree and to love each other anyway. Of course, since the Convention was a big deal and a part of our vacation, we did post about that experience and I hope that it was at least interesting, even if you are not a Democrat! :)

However, as a woman and as a person who lives in Alaska, I really just cannot be silent any longer on the issue of Sarah Palin for vice president. I have heard many of the pro Palin comments and I respect the idea that everyone is entitled to their opinion. I hope that I can be given the same respect for mine. There seems to be a sense that many women and many Alaskans are jumping for joy at the candidacy of Ms. Palin. I want to help lay that to rest.

I find it insulting that McCain and/or his advisors seem to believe that women will vote for anyone with a uterus. Yes, I would love to see a woman in the White House, hopefully within my lifetime. I think there are many intelligent, capable, amazing women who will do the office of President or VP proud. But I, and many others, are not voting based on gender alone. Although I respect all that Hillary Clinton has accomplished, I have supported Barack Obama all along. At our local caucus back in February, that raised a few eyebrows among some women who supported Hillary and thought it was disloyal for a woman NOT to. I certainly feel the desire to be supportive of my sisters and to do everything I can to end discrimination against women, which has plagued our society for so long and continues to do so. However, I cannot let my loyalty to my gender overshadow my concern for moving the country forward and I believe that Obama is the right candidate for that task.

It is also silly to think that just because we live in Alaska, we will support the ticket with the Alaskan on it. No real need to go into that, I hope!

If gender and geography do not sway me, then we turn to the issues. I have many points of disagreement with both McCain and Palin. As for Palin specifically, I don't believe that she is qualified to be vice president and believe that she was chosen only to rally either the extreme right wing who have not supported McCain very enthusiastically, or in an attempt to sway women for the Republicans. I don't believe that "executive" experience as a small town mayor (where she hired an administrator to help run the city) and two years as governor of Alaska give her sufficient experience to be VP. If she were qualified to be VP and even President should something happen to McCain, why could she not talk with the press, answer questions from citizens, or participate in interviews right off the bat? The American people have the right to know about her knowledge, experience, and stance on issues. By the time she had an interview with Charlie Gibson, she was so scripted and unnatural that many of us in Alaska found it amazing and amusing. And even the preparation did not help her to know what the Bush Doctrine is, and could not pad her resume enough to avoid the embarrassing assertion that living next to Russia somehow counts as foreign policy experience. For those of you who say that lots of people don't know what the Bush Doctrine is, lots of people are not running for VP.
One of the biggest problems I have with her right now is her handling of the so-called "Troopergate" issue in Alaska. Way before she was VP nominee, this story was statewide news, though maybe not national news. We were already following it before the McCain campaign came to town and changed the scene. When Walt Monegan was fired as Public Safety Director, the only thing the governor's office said was that it wanted to go in a different direction and offered him another job in state government, which he refused. If he was such a rogue employee, why in the world would she offer him another job? She also agreed early on that she would participate fully in the investigation and that she had nothing to hide regarding allegations that she or individuals in her administration attempted to use their influence to get her former brother in law fired. The process was moving along until she became the VP nominee. Now suddenly there is all of this stonewalling and refusal to participate, claiming partisanship and crying foul. What changed? And why does the McCain campaign think it can come to Alaska and dictate what happens in a state issue? I thought the Republicans were the ones who believe in 'state's rights' and the federal government keeping its fingers out of state business?

Ahhh, earmarks. Should we even talk about the "bridge to nowhere" and Palin telling the feds, "thanks, but no thanks"? That's a blatant lie. The Republicans went after John Kerry with a vengeance for being a "flip flopper" on the war. Guess what? Palin was FOR the bridge before she was AGAINST it and only against it once it became an embarrassment for the state. And we still kept most of the money. Go figure.

I disagree with her position on the war in Iraq, I disagree that being next door to Russia counts as foreign policy experience, I disagree with censorship in libraries (no, she didn't have a chance to actually do it, but she certainly checked out the possibility), I think human beings DO contribute to global warming, I think sex ed in schools would help prevent unwanted pregnancies and yes, prevent abortions, when we know that "just say no" does not really work in many circumstances, I think the polar bears are endangered, I don't think that "drill, baby, drill" will solve our problems (especially not immediately) and we need to be looking at alternative sources of energy, I don't believe in hunting wolves from planes, and I think gay people should be able to get married if they want to. There's more, but you know what, those are enough reasons for me to say that I am not willing to vote for McCain/Palin. I am speaking about Palin in this entry but I will just say that I have never supported McCain, regardless of his running mate, but this choice just demonstrates to me how low he is willing to sink in order to try to win the presidency. I cannot believe that he has the country's best interest at heart if he is willing to cast aside many good choices of a running mate in order to try to woo certain constituents. This is not being a "maverick," this is irresponsible.

As a social worker, I was SO highly offended by Palin and Guiliani making fun of community organizers during their speeches at the Republican Convention. Community organizing is a huge part of social work and among the best traditions of social work. Community organizers have helped people obtain rights and services, have assisted people who were marginalized and oppressed, have helped communities pull together and take on huge issues like clean water, children's health needs, employment discrimination, public safety, voting rights, racial and ethnic discrimination and so on. For goodness sakes, if you think about it, the PTA does community organizing, churches do community organizing, the right to life movement does community organizing, the NRA does community organizing, veterans do community organizing. Their own party does community organizing (what do you think "get out the vote" is?) and yet they try to make it a dirty word somehow because Barack Obama worked with poor people in Chicago? I promise you, if I had any respect for Sarah Palin, I lost it at that moment. She's been a community organizer herself and doesn't even know it.

I do agree that we should not ask Palin any questions about "can you handle the vice presidency along with raising a family?" if we are not willing to ask those same questions of a man. I think candidates should be treated equally, regardless of gender, which means that they should all have the same level of scrutiny and should not be allowed to cry "unfair" if they are asked hard questions. I do think her children should be granted a great deal of privacy, unless she chooses to put them in the spotlight herself and then I think we have the right to ask questions. I feel sorry for her 17 year old pregnant daughter who has been thrust into the limelight as the poster child for the pro-life movement. Bless her heart; can you imagine how she must feel? I wonder a bit about a parent who is willing to put her own child through that sort of scrutiny and gossip and innuendo for the sake of mom's political aspirations. I think it's a wonderful personal decision that the Palins chose to have a baby they knew had Down syndrome and I know that Trig will get everything that he needs. But I used to work at a physical rehab facility in Texas and I know how hard it is for every-day people to obtain all of the services that their special needs children have to have--the cost, the run around and denials from insurance companies, the frustration with eligibility requirements for state programs, the lack of funding for equipment and medications and physical therapy and special education, the lack of support for working parents to take time off with their child, the stress, the fears, the absence of emotional support. Most kids are not fortunate enough to have a person of power for a parent, so I count on the Democrats to be the real champions of children's services, health care, and education, not the Republicans.

Should a woman be VP or President? Emphatically, YES. Is this the woman for the job? We will all decide that on Nov. 4. I have already made up my mind and I hope you will do some serious soul searching if you have not.

Please click on the blogs listed to the right on this page: Celtic Divas Blue Oasis and Alaska Real, for lots more detailed information and insight from a couple of Alaskans who are posting more than I could possibly summarize here. And they have additional links on their blogs.

Don't be taken in by a pretty face and some funny quips. Sarah Palin does not speak for me, nor does she represent all women in Alaska.


Susan said...

Right on, sistah! You make me proud to be your friend, a social worker and a community organizer. And, I want a leader who loves people, by the way. :)

Gigi said...

Oh, yeah, that, too! I need to post that article!

Kristinn said...

Hear, hear!!!