John McCain’s decision to select Sarah Palin as his running mate has created a lot of speculation over what it means for the women of America. I found myself asking the exact same question: Was Palin’s selection a victory for my sex? After closely reviewing Palin, I realized that just because a candidate is a woman does not mean she is woman’s candidate. Palin is not representative of the values of the majority of women in this country, and she does not have the experience or knowledge the United States needs at this critical juncture in American history.
While Palin is pro-life, even in cases of rape and incest, most women consider this issue far behind us, as it was resolved by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Very few women believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Palin has been outspoken about her desire to overturn Roe v. Wade, which ultimately would mean encouraging women to risk their health obtaining back-street abortions.
Palin has asked the media and the world to respect her pregnant 17-year-old daughter’s right to privacy, and to respect the decisions she has made. Why can’t Palin give the same respect to the women of the United States? Most people do not like the government telling them how to live their lives and what they can do with their bodies. Palin cannot demand her daughter’s right to privacy while denying privacy to all women in America.
One of the most offensive parts of the McCain campaign has been its eagerness to accuse every person who criticizes Palin’s ability to take on the role of mother and vice president of sexism. The fact of the matter is that five children, including a newborn baby with Down Syndrome is lot to take on for a mother or father, especially when combined with the second-highest political position in America. This is particularly true because Palin has much catching up to do on foreign policy and politics in Washington. People are right to question whether this will take a toll on her abilities, but it isn’t sexism.
Jane Swift, the acting governor of Massachusetts, had twins while in office in 2001, and she discussed the difficulties of being a mother and governor in an essay to the Boston Globe saying, “I know now that it was virtually impossible for me to take advice and make decisions when I was responding emotionally as a mother, not thinking rationally as a public official.” She dropped out of the 2002 primary race because of her difficulties maintaining this balance. It seems that McCain’s approach to making Palin a victim is more sexist than any criticism she’s receiving from the media.
Palin being shielded from media scrutiny is also an insult to my sex. McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis said Palin would not sit down for an interview until the media, “started to treat her with some level of deference and respect.”After Palin finally agreed to do her first post-nomination interview on Sept. 11, the media was criticized for being too harsh. The media has backed off, but the problem is the media has rarely shown deference to any candidate before, and it seems particularly wrong to show deference toward a candidate because of gender.
Her term as governor is also shady, as Alaska reaps more money per resident from earmark spending than other state because of the aggressiveness of Sen. Ted Stevens and Palin. This year she supported $200 million of federal money for “earmark projects.” Palin also has been outspoken about her refusal to build the “bridge to nowhere” as proof of her struggle against wasteful spending, which turned out to be an outright lie. She supported the project until Congress objected to it. The fact that her campaign seems to think they can lie outright to the American people is absurd.
Palin has also become a professional at taking federal funds for Alaska, and keeping Alaskan money out of the rest of our pockets. For instance, Alaska takes in three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil before it leaves the state, which makes it possible to give $2,000 back to every resident a year, including an extra $1,200 given to residents by Palin last year due to rising oil prices. So if you think Palin has been sympathizing with the high oil prices the rest of the nation faces, or that Palin’s plan to drill for oil in Alaska is going to affect your wallet, think again.
It is wrong and insulting to suggest Palin’s lack of understanding of foreign affairs is something the American people should overlook. She has claimed knowledge of Russia because she could see it from her home in Alaska. Even Republican officials have recognized the danger her nomination poses. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has served on the Foreign Relations Committee and as a senator since 1997, has said she does not have the qualifications to potentially be president of the United States, and implying Palin has foreign policy experience is dishonest and insulting to America. He is not endorsing either candidate.
We need people in office who have a deep understanding of the conflicts we face, whether they are international threats, global warming or the economy. Palin has been quoted saying the war in Iraq is God’s will and has often cited God in her decisions, including the building of a gas pipeline in Alaska. After eight years of a president who has also used God in policy decisions, this is a frightening prospect. Palin has also been outspoken about her beliefs that global warming is not man-made at a time when it is critical to make changes in our environmental behavior.
This is a time when officials need to be open-minded to ideas and solutions, as we face so many national problems that cannot be dictated by personal beliefs or agendas. Her nomination is not a victory for women, the Republican party or the people of America. We need leaders who are truly bipartisan, leaders like Hagel or New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who are not driven by politics, but by their truthful desire to put country first. We need to elect leaders who are insightful, knowledgeable, intellectually informed and above petty party politics. We can demand more from our leaders, and we should.
Sources: Time Magazine, The New York Times