jump over the last cherry tree

So Friday night, I caught the tail-end of CNN’s second showing of the Presidential Debates.  Now it’s not very often I watch campaign stuff (mostly because I can’t get over how ripe with bullshit it is), but this election is very special to me and, damnit, I want it to end well.  After all, this is the very first time I will get to vote in a Presidential Election.  My generation, as a whole, is going to make a difference: a real difference.  And I’m going to be informed.  …Somehow.

But anyway, watching McCain get all puffy and excited for an hour got me in a political mood.  My election mojo is on the prowl, and I feel like talking politics.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  For while I am always happy to jump in to a political debate and laugh when the other person is completely uninformed (better yet when they’re just old fashioned stupid), I rarely go out of my way to honestly research what the other side is saying about us goddamn liberals.

We’re at that point in time in Election Season when headlines like ‘<a href=”http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/27/palin-takes-questions-during-cheesesteak-run/”>Palin Takes Questions During Cheesesteak Run</a>’ are front page news (or, since we are in the information age, homepage news).  People are coming to blows about every little disagreement and everyone is more than willing to tell people that their chosen candidate is a doo-doo head.  I think it is important, then, for everyone to take a step back for a second and remember that we’re all in this together and, regardless of the results of this election, we will all soon be stuck underneath the same person.  So instead of thinking about what would be best for me, personally, we should start thinking about what would be best for everyone as a whole.  At the same time, however, I realise that this is rather impossible because, after all, we are Americans.  We are the people who demand instant gratification and constant capitol.  We are the people who come to fisticuffs over Tickle-Me-Elmos the day after Thanksgiving.  Sorry to say, folks, but we’re really not that great at the whole ‘Communal Mindset’.  But I’ll leave Wole Soyinka to that essay.

Mine today is going to focus on everyone’s favourite Stepford Wife, Sarah Palin.

Everyone I know — seriously.  EVERYONE — has been hatin’ on Sarah Palin.  Which I totally understand.  There are a great many things to hate on.  The argument I’ve been hearing most recently is that she made women in her town buy their own rape kits.  This doesn’t sit well with me, but I’m also aware that the facts have gotten a bit skewed about this story.  It is election season, after all.  I just now read a very animated facebook note written by a girl I went to high school with about how this is completely false and people shouldn’t hate on Sarah Palin.

Whatever.

I must admit that I don’t like Sarah Palin.  I just don’t.  I have many reasons for this (par example, she thinks women belong in the kitchen and yet is running for vice presidency; WAKE UP AND SMELL THE HYPOCRISY), but my biggest reason is that she is a flaming idiot.  Maybe you aren’t aware of this, madame, but you should probably know what the vice president does before trying to be vice president.  Just a thought.  But in my defense, I dislike every idiot.  The only ones I don’t openly hate happen to be related to me and my father has politely asked that I avoid making family reunions even more awkward.

But I digress.

When thinking about Sarah Palin and what I wanted to say concerning her, I came across another facebook note, posted by my good friend Randy Colburn, and it really hit the spot in what I feel needs to go on during this new campaign.  This essay was written by Gloria Steinem (the newest of my research crushes) and has been circulating around the internet since early September.  I really think it’s worth the read, so if you have some free time, please check this out.

Here’s the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing — the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party — are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women — and to many men too — who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the “white-male-only” sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won’t work. This isn’t the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton’s candidacy stood for — and that Barack Obama’s still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, “Somebody stole my shoes, so I’ll amputate my legs.”

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can’t do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn’t say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden’s 37 years’ experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn’t know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, “I still can’t answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?” When asked about Iraq, she said, “I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she’s won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain’s campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn’t know it’s about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate’s views on “God, guns and gays” ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let’s be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can’t tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin’s value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves “abstinence-only” programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers’ millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn’t spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don’t doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn’t just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn’t just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, “women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership,” so he may be voting for Palin’s husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can’t appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can’t be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should. 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sneemus
    Sep 30, 2008 @ 23:41:18

    At long last, I have tracked down your new blog (which is to say, tracked down the e-mail which had the link to your new blog).

    I can’t believe this is the first you’ve learned of Gloria, only because your personality means you’re destined to fall in research-lurve with her. Suffice to say, I am not surprised. You’ve heard all my rants on Miz Palin. I admit, my biggest single problem is her attempt to ban about 150 different books at her local library including shit like “Bridge to Terabithia” (if you’re using “character death” as an excuse to ban books, all we’ll have left to read will be fucking Jane Austin– wait, jk, we won’t even have her). What kind of moron would you be to put someone in the White House who freaking *bans books*? Seriously, is this the 1800s? Are we living in Iran? (We can’t be living in Soviet Russia, because in Soviet Russia, books ban you.)

    Anyway, bitch bitch bitch whine rant. Thursday’s debate BETTER pwn. I’ll pretty much ker-splode if Biden screws this up.

    Reply

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