15 September 2008

Pick your historic precedent

Right now, American voters have two choices: they can send a black man to the White House for the first time in history, or they can send a woman to Observatory Circle. How to choose between two such momentous occasions? How will they decide whether a black man or a white woman should receive the honour first?

Well, they could start by looking at the politics.

Before I go further, if I had to choose between the two, I'd go for Obama. I like that he's trying to rise above mud-slinging. I do have a problem with (what I perceive as) his under-thought plan of removing troops from Iraq. While I have always been opposed to that military action, I think blind retreat will be more detrimental to human rights in the long run. Come up with a plan, buddy.

Of course, I don't think that Americans should have to feel that they only have two from which to choose. No more than I think that Conservatives and Liberals are the only choices in Canada. But, I digress.

Lots of right-wing, conservative, pro-Republican commentators in the states are complaining that feminists aren't jumping on board with Sarah Palin. "What's your problem?" they wonder (and sometimes yell), "We picked a female VP candidate!" You should be over-joyed and falling into ranks!"

Well, I don't get to vote for her, but I'll gladly tell any of them what my problem is.
  • The feeling of her appointment being a disingenuous choice because Hilary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for President and Obama didn't choose a woman. It's shouts, "Hey! We're open-minded!" a little too loudly for my taste. But even when we peel back the layers of cynicism we get...
  • "She’s Phyllis Schlafly, Only Younger." Schlafly is a woman who campaigned against an equal-rights amendment to the US Constitution. It made a big splash that a woman would be opposed to the ERA. But this woman had a list of reasons that were rooted in sexist beliefs. And yes, a woman can be sexist against other women. As Gloria Steinem says in her article;
"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 she 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.

...

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."
  • She seems unfazed by recent crackdowns on the media. While this account is definitely one-sided, it feels like blaming the media is becoming endemic for conservatives whose views don't match the mainstream -- as if it's the media's fault for reporting it wrong, and not just a popular belief held by many people. It's also laughable when the 24-hour cable news networks spout conservatism andright-wing beliefs most of the day. One needs look no further than Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and their ilk. If I could have found an appropriate Sarah Palin clip, I would use it, instead you get to see how relentless and unfocused their attacks can be.
  • She a huge partisan game-player, promoting her friends and weeding out those who oppose or lose favour with her. She did it in Alaska, and I have no doubt that, as VP, she would find a way to ouster as many opponents of her policies as possible. From the New York Times article:
"Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

...

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records."
I'd love to see a woman helping run or actually running the US one day. More importantly, I'd love to see someone qualified. Sorry, John McCain, Sarah Pail doesn't cut it.

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