Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain’s Choice: Sarah Palin Compared to Barack Obama?

McCain’s Choice: Sarah Palin Compared to Barack Obama?

The Republican presumptive nominee, Senator John McCain, announced his choice for vice-presidential running mate on Friday, August 29, 2008. He chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Immediately, the McCain Campaign and the right wing media pundits began to spew out comparisons between Gov. Palin and Sen. Obama that highlighted Gov. Palin’s “executive experience.” Now let’s get this straight: they want the voters to compare the experience and background of Sarah Palin to that of Barack Obama.

There is no comparison. Sarah Palin has not lived as much, seen as much, felt as much, run as fast, reached as high, grasped as much, accomplished as much, or come as far as has Barack Obama. There is absolutely no comparison between the life of cookie cutter suburbia and a black man born of interracial parents, raised by a single white mother, schooled in various countries and cultures around the world, mentored by white grandparents, got a degree from Columbia and has a Harvard Law degree. A suburban soccer mom who became governor cannot be compared to a person who has struggled all his life to succeed and did so, choosing higher education and public service over drugs, prison, and failure.

Sarah Palin also fails the comparison test when it comes to experience in government. She fails because experience is not just about the position that you hold, but it is also about the quality of problems you have faced. The governor of an entire state with less than one fourth the population of the city of Chicago cannot encounter the same depth of problems and challenges as a State Senator from the Southside of Chicago (population of Alaska: 670,000; population of Chicago: 3 million).

Sarah Palin has been mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a suburb of Anchorage. Wasilla has a population of 8,500 whereas Hyde Park, the district that Senator Obama represented in the Illinois Senate, has a population of 29,920. This Chicago neighborhood is three and half times larger than the town of Wasilla. The point is that this nation and the world are now beset with the kind of problems that one is not prepared for by being a mayor in “soccer-mom suburbia” or the governor of a state with a population equal to that of Memphis, Tennessee.

John McCain did not choose Sarah Palin for her so called “experience,” but to try to capture the disaffected “Hillary Clinton voters.” This means women who wanted to break the glass ceiling of American politics by making Hillary Clinton the first female presidential nominee from a major party, and hopefully the first female president of the United States. What’s wrong with that?

The problem with the choice and the thinking behind it is that John McCain, and those around him, act as if any woman is the right woman. Hillary Clinton won the millions of votes that she did because, like Barack Obama, she has worked outside of “white bread America” and “soccer mom heaven” long enough to be acquainted with the problems that everyday Americans face. She has seen the face of America up close. She has seen the affects of racism and bigotry, sexism and the glass ceiling. She has witnessed the results of inadequate healthcare, and like Obama she has studied ways of solving these problems. There is no evidence that Sarah Palin even knows these problems exist.

Every person who believes in women’s rights should be up in arms over this selection because it makes a mockery of women’s progress and female leadership. This selection says the best person to be a heart beat away from the presidency is a woman who doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose,* has no established policy on healthcare, knows nothing about foreign policy, and has no known domestic policy. In other words she was chosen simply because she was a woman governor of relatively unknown background. It’s like replacing Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas simply because Thomas is black. This is like replacing a roaring and majestic lion with a tabby cat simply because they are both of the feline family.

Any woman voting for John McCain because Sarah Palin is on the ticket is not thinking, and may even be siding with her own ideological enemy.

*The writer of this blog is not a proponent of abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s life is in danger.

The most unfortunate fact about abortion is that it occurs whether legal or illegal. When abortions are illegal poor woman are butchered in back alleys, while rich woman are listed in hospital registrations as having appendectomies. The author believes that spiritual, governmental, and academic communities should promote programs that teach abstinence as well as safe sex and thereby reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. The author does not believe that teaching safe sex encourages sexual promiscuity, but that in many cases it prevents a person from being faced with a choice that includes abortion.

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