Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So What Do You Think Of All This?

After I spent the weekend casually talking politics and nursing a 23-year-old injury from a car accident, I asked a new friend what she thought of Sarah Palin. It was interesting to me to ask her because I am black, she is white, we are both mothers, we both live in the suburbs, we both stay home, we are both have daughters in elementary school, we both have a younger daughter who stays home, we both want change. Lori and I are planning to have coffee so I just asked her, "What do you think of all this?" Her answer was both interesting in her passion and informative of perhaps what other women think. She gave her permission for me to share her response, it is telling.

"I think that she's a mess."

I'm a horrible feminist, I don't follow the whole mold that a woman- a mother- shouldn't be held to a different standard than fathers. They should be! Even the best father's aren't mothers. There is no relationship in the world as important as the relationship between a child and it's mother. (I am supportive of gay men adopting or single fathers, but I do think that those children need a 'maternal' figure. And aunt or a grandma to help fill that void.. but I'm not sure it's fill-able. )
This woman is very ambitious, and I respect that, but you don't have five kids and then take on a job like Vice President. Her son is going to Iraq. Her daughter is pregnant. Her baby has Downs Syndrome. Mom to Mom.. it sounds like she has a full plate.
I personally think that when you have children.. you need to think of them over just about anything else. You brought them here. You have to help them navigate now. Three days after her baby son was born with a disability that will require lots of intervention she went back to work. Seriously? This is something she's proud of? I'm appalled.
I also really am fearful of the clip where on July 31st of this year she's on video asking what the actual job of the VP is. This makes me feel like it's another Bush appointment, where the appointee is not qualified for the job. Like Fema. It is scary when McCain is older and has had health issues in the past.
I think she's probably a nice woman who makes a good Gov. but she's not ready for prime time.
But like I said.. I'm not a feminist. and some women see her as an important milestone. I see Nancy Pelosi as that milestone. She is third in line for the presidency? Why is that not a broken glass ceiling? I think we underestimate that significance.
I also think Palin's appointment really damages some of the value of Biden's amazing debating power. Since ridiculously, any ferocity he shows in the debate will be woman bashing. (So much for equal rights, huh?) And that's a bummer cause he's sooo good at that.
Anyway, I'll climb off my soap box and save some for Coffee!"

I love Lori's response and her honesty. The Republicans think they can pull the wool over our eyes. Jack and Jill Politics speculates they are trying to pull an Alito on us (remember what they did with the Meir almost appointment to the Supreme Court and then allowed Bush to slip in an ultra-conservative, ultra right-wing judge). It had me wondering what they were really up to. Perhaps John McCain really doesn't want to be President or perhaps he just likes a pretty woman. Governor Palin has all of us wondering what is going on. As a mother, I wonder what she was thinking with her child and then putting her daughter out on front street. I work with teenage girls and know they fall into "group think" and pleasing their parents and really don't want to be embarrassed, talk about national humiliation for Bristol!

I have a daughter with a major illness that in part has been the reason I've been at home all her life. She is not as intense as a child with Down's Syndrome, but we have had our share of hospital stays, doctor's visits, and managing her diet due to her eosinophilic gastroenteritis. It is not an easy job to be a mom or a working mom and I've been both.

CNN is now interviewing the different pundits who keep giving the party line about Palin. I have my Masters of Business Administration and I've been through more rigorous interviews than what appears to be the quick pick of Sarah Palin. She is a heart-beat away from the Presidency and to me and a lot of people I've talked to, she just isn't ready. Now, the Republicans are doing their best to present the "ordinary hockey mom" as worthy of this highest office. She has been sequestered to get a crash course on foreign policy and what the job of the VP entails. She was on CNN early this morning doing her walk-through of the stage and podium with the older, male coaches behind her. Is this the image of a woman ready to lead the country? I wonder what other people think about this.

Sarah Palin gives her speech tonight. She has to appear presidential and lose her cute appeal. She has to speak to the Republican audience as an Evangelical, Assembly-of-God, stand-behind-your-man, no-sex-education audience of chauvinists. The party she seeks to be the second-in-charge is heavily white male dominated. Yes, she can shoot a major weapon and is a member of the NRA, but she has to really make her case. She has to ease the concerns of a country at near economic ruin with an unpopular war and sheer exhaustion of the last eight years of the message of fear.

The questions become beyond Sarah Palin. Should there just be one religion in America? This is the stance of the Republican Party and the far-right champions like Bill Bennett, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Pat Buchanan and the rest of the neo-cons that have been the school-yard bully to the rest of the nation. I've watched CNN, MSNBC, and the rest of the corporate-owned media to a song-and-dance primarily in favor of the right. The networks talk to the Republican pundits who say that Sarah Palin's daughter and her situation is a "private family matter" and won't even mention her Alaskan pastor who said anyone who disagreed with the war or the president was going to hell. Since when?

We can't be single issue voters. If my four-year-old daughter or soon-to-be seven-year-old daughter came to me in ten years and announced they were pregnant, I wouldn't put them on the national stage as poster children of family values. I would seek to shelter them, love them, counsel them, and guide them in making a decision that is right for them. Sarah Palin has put her daughter and her real-life "baby-daddy" out in the national media as evidence of how great a neo-con she is that she even had a Down Syndrome son and is even forcing her daughter to marry a self-proclaimed "redneck" who "doesn't want kids." Is that what we want for the rest of the country, are these the family values we want for everyone?

The same party that is supporting Bristol Palin is also the same party in 1992 that spoke forcefully against single mothers (remember Dan Quale and his attack on the fictional Murphy Brown's pregnancy). There have always been single mothers of every race and economic status. There have always been teenagers having sex, regardless of race or economic status. If we continue to not equip them, there will be more Bristol's who have tried to hide their pregnancy and whose sexual exploits are for the world to see.

Babies cost money. I can't imagine how this young girl's life will be impacted by the economic impact of her child. There won't be a senior prom unless her mom babysits, how can she do that and be the Vice President? College is still possible for Bristol, but can she do that as a married woman with a young child to a potential husband who isn't interested in higher education? What about the rest of the country? There are young girls who are trying their best to juggle high school and parenthood, many fail and drop out. The economic impact is felt regardless of race, religion, and economic status.

There are things that bother me about Sarah Palin beyond her home life. I agree that this is a private family matter, however, shouldn't that be the same standard for the Democrats? Senator Barack Obama was raked over the coals for his choice of pastor, yet Sarah Palin has been given a pass for her choice. Michelle Obama was wrongly, negatively, and crudely called a "baby mama" when Bristol Palin actually will be one. Where is the press on the calling of the double standard of the religious right? Where is the truth?

I work with a group of teen girls. I am also a Christian with a real-life, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. I cherish HIS love and the grace I receive from HIM daily. I know that I have made mistakes and will continue to do so as long as I have breath. I know that I am not above a transgression but I also know that I have an advocate in Jesus Christ. In knowing this, I know that no person is perfect. I remember being a teenage girl and the thrill of the first love. There were times in that Lake Michigan community that I thought the sun rose and set on a certain 17-year-old boy. My who world of 17 seemed entwined with his forever. Today, at 44, I have no idea where that young man is, I can't imagine being forced to marry him to save face for my pastor-father. My dad taught us family values and that it is important to have children in the security of a marital relationship. He supported us and educated us. He never told us about birth control but then I came of age in a different time than the kids today. Today, I told the teen girls I mentor about all the birth control and STD prevention methods available, beyond just telling them to not do it. Teenagers in the heat of passion are not always going to pull away and say no, it is hard for some adults to do that. It is better to equip them. Bristol's pregnancy and the abstinence-only education scares me because it shows she didn't use birth control and didn't use protection. What if her consequence wasn't pregnancy but a STD. What is she contracted HIV like Marvelene Brown did her first time of having sex without protection? It makes me wonder what they were thinking about and what message they are sending.

The message I want to hear is about the economy, health care, education, this war. It is not enough to just pick a woman and hope that I will choose her. There is a change in the air and November will show it. I just hope the young woman caught in the fray of all this will get the counseling she will need. It all makes me wonder.

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