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Why White Women Should Not Vote For Sarah Palin (1560 hits)

Sarah Palin: Why White Women Should Fight Her At All Costs

When John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his choice to be the Vice-President, she stated that she would advance Hillary Clinton’s efforts to break the glass ceiling American women face in national politics. When Clinton was a candidate, however, Palin said that she could not support her because she was “whining” about s*xism in the media. Sarah Palin is a freeloader and an ingrate. She takes advantages of the opportunities presented to her by generations of activists while doing nothing to safeguard or advance those rights. Of course, her partisans are now complaining that media criticisms of her experience and qualifications are s*xist. These charges are both hypocritical and deceptive.

Palin’s partisans label as s*xist both the idea that she cannot serve in national office while she tries to meet the needs of her family and the idea that she is unqualified for her office. They are right about the former, but dead wrong about the latter. Her lack of any national or international experience, her record as a mayor and a governor, and her stands on policy issues are all fair game. American freedom is based on the existence of a free press willing to hold all politicians accountable for their actions. I half expected to see the ghost of Spiro Agnew rise up at the Republican National Convention last night to bemoan the “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the American media.

Palin’s record on women’s issues is thin, but her speech to the Republican National Convention illuminates her views sufficiently. She offered herself as one who will fight against the great bogeymen of the Republican Party: “big” government and high taxes. Leaving aside the gross misrepresentations of Barack Obama’s positions on these issues and her unwillingness even to mention the gargantuan federal deficits (taxes on the present and the future) left by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan, I want to focus on the implicit anti-feminism of her rhetoric.

First, American women and people of color need government do to its job well in order that they might have a modicum of economic opportunity and well being. Women’s wages still lag far behind men’s, yet John McCain has refused to support the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, proposed in order to undo a recent reactionary court decision that shields employers from accountability for any wage discrimination that occurred more than six months before a worker files a complaint. McCain claims it would only invite lawsuits. That, of course, is the point. Workers who experience discrimination in pay should have access to the courts.

Moreover, women and people of color need an administration committed to enforcing all discrimination laws, to putting teeth back into the Wagner Act so that workers can form labor unions to improve their wages and working conditions, to ensuring the enforcement of environmental laws so that all of us are protected from dangerous pollutants at work and at home, and to a strong Social Security system so that low wages will not consign millions of American workers to dire destitution in their old age. Palin has never mentioned her positions on any of these issues, except to question whether global warming is accountable for climate change in Alaska. What are Palin’s economic policies or her views on questions of social inequality? We don’t know and will not know unless American voters demand that she offer something more substantial than deceptive charges and hyperbolic rhetoric.

This raises another issue that should be a concern to all Americans. Palin’s reaction to information that challenges her ideologies or values is to place herself firmly on the side of ignorance. From her attempts to remove books from the Wassila, Alaska library to her desire to have creationism taught as science to her support for abstinence only s*x education, Palin has worked to repress ideas at odds with her own. Whether you examine studies of the outcomes of abstinence only education (high rates of s*xually transmitted diseases for those who hold the line against intercourse and high numbers of “drop-outs” from the prescribed behaviors), you find that they don’t work. Nonetheless, the Republicans keep touting them as the moral response to social change. The most notable example of the failure of this approach, of course, is her own daughter. If Palin and her allies were not so willing to impose their values on all Americans, this would not be a public issue.

Where does Sarah Palin stand on services for the large numbers of pregnant teens who do not come from families of privilege and cannot or will not opt for a “shotgun wedding” to set things right? All we know for sure is that she cut funding for the Covenant House in Alaska. Among its services is a residential program for pregnant teens which provides training and other forms of support for them. In general, she and her running mate seem oblivious to the problems confront single mothers throughout this country. McCain even opposed a proposed federal program to ensure that all American children have health care. As many women have already noted, the question is not whether Sarah Palin can balance work and family, but whether the millions of American women who struggle to do so without Palin’s level of privilege will find their lives improved by a McCain/Palin administration. The answer to that is a resounding NO.

Finally, of course, she opposes abortion in all circumstances. Republicans like to talk about freedom, but their notion of freedom seems to boil down to the right of small businesses and corporations alike to do whatever they please. Mine includes the right of all Americans to have full access to all reproductive choices and services. This is utterly crucial to women. We already have to take the marketplace on its own s*xist terms. We need some control and assistance (affordable child care, flextime, and other reasonable accommodations to the work-family dilemma) in order that we can manage our lives and claim some degree of economic independence.

Sarah Palin is the perfect vehicle for the reactionary right’s message. In her short political career, she has already shown a kind of Nixonian mean-spiritedness, firing several Wasilla city employees who disagreed with her to replace them with unqualified people who owed everything to her. Her distrust of all who disagree with any of her views or goals is disturbing enough, but the power of her folksy just us “gals” and “dudes” political rhetoric to obscure her radical right agenda is even more dangerous. Her sarcastic, sneering references to Barack Obama and to community organizers everywhere reveals her complete contempt for all real reformers, for all who work to secure fundamental changes in American society. The Democrats will ignore this perky thug at their own risk.

For my part, I know that I owe my rights (including the basic right to vote), my workplace opportunities, and some cultural acceptance of women outside of traditional domestic roles to generations of social activists. I know that men and women in the civil rights, labor, and feminist movements risked their reputations, jobs, and, indeed, their very lives to secure my rights and freedoms. As a white woman, I am deeply grateful to the civil rights movement for expanding our sense of social justice and providing baseline legislation, particularly the 1964 Civil Rights Act, so that discrimination became less prevalent in our society. I benefited from this and will never forget that this legacy must be protected and extended so that future generations of women, men, people of color, and whites will be able to realize their full potential as workers, political actors, and community members.

And, yes, I, too, come from a small town.

Karen Anderson

Personal Bio

I was born in Lawrence, Kansas and benefited from the high quality of public education there. I received my B.S. in Education at the University of Kansas and my Ph. D. in History from the University of Washington. I teach history at the University of Arizona and will publish a book on the Little Rock school desegregation crisis in 2009. I am a proud feminist.

Dr. Karen Anderson is a personal friend. You may use this in any positive manner you may see fit. If you are interested in contacting Dr. Anderson then contact me at epgeorge007@gmail.com
Posted By: George Puckett
Monday, September 8th 2008 at 2:26PM
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Very good analysis. It's too bad more people don't have a comment. I belive that while Palin may energize the GOP base, the fact remains that they have paraded two candidates that barely meet the criteria for even being Republicans. The fact that the race between McCain and Obama is still as close as it is is based on Obama's skin color...point blank.
McCain could not have made a worse political choice than Palin, but the idea was to give white women someone else to vote for, because deep down inside their hearts White America does NOT want a black president AT ALL!
Monday, September 8th 2008 at 6:52PM
Curly Morris
Thanks Curly. I feel that if Obama was white or lighter in compllexion, McCain would be in serious trouble
Monday, September 8th 2008 at 7:50PM
George Puckett
Well, first let me say I don't have much opportunity to really watch all the media coverage of the political race. So, to a degree, I have no clue what you all are hollering about. Hillary, in my personal oppinion, looks, acts, speaks, even smells too much like my mother! (NO I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT MAMA MR) Power hungry doesn't even begin to describe her. To be quite honest, I'm not sure who to vote for. I'd vote for TD Jakes if he'd run! Someone who has his head on his sholders and the word in his heart is what I'm looking for in a presidential candidate. Of course I say "he" with repect to either gender. I'd take Brother Joel Osteen over Hillary any day. And lets not point fingers over all the mistakes these publicans have made. It casts a dim light on what we are all ultimately trying to do here. If I could resurect MLK to do the job, I would. God sets on high those He chooses, pray He chooses, and tells us! GB
Saturday, September 13th 2008 at 4:02PM
Lesley Knight

So whatever candidate speaks most powerfully about their religious beliefs is going to get your vote? The ministers you mentioned have a different calling, as well so does these publicans... PLEASE when you go to the polls know that people have lied on religion since the first one was greated... sadly we need a polotician not a pastor in the White House
Saturday, September 13th 2008 at 4:16PM
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