Saturday, 30 August 2008

Palin Palin Palin...

A little update.. post election....

I think this video is an important historical portrait of a changing society...

I'm sure like many people my first thought was to tap Sarah Palin into google and find out what she stands for.

I really wanted to support at least notionally the US following European, South American, African and Asian examples of successful and infamous female heads of state. Most women try to believe gender isn't an issue anymore wherever they can. The presence of women in high level politics is reassuring because we believe they have made it there being judged on their policies and strengths. Usually we infer that they must be exceptional to have made it that far, negotiating battles their male couterparts are spared.

Certainly the job I do and the life I lead running around the world with a camera leaves me in constant debt to women who fought to open doors and then graciously left them open for me to glide through and be judged on the quality of my work and not the circumstances of my birth.

They fought wars so I only have to negotiate small battles so I was inclined to think McCain's was a positive if not transparently calculated move. But alas this seems to be at once a frightening and condescending development for women all over the world. I had some respect for John McCain before this. I've collected some quotes from articles out this morning to explain why that is now gone. I no longer believe that the upcoming US election offers two different kinds of change and hope. Now more that ever I am hoping the US can see clearly why the rest of the world is so excited by the prospect of Obama!

Ann Friedman quotes some interesting analysis from TAPPED about how condescending this pick is to women's rights:

The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her gender, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it's equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. The conservative media reaction has already engaged in paternalistic language, with FOX News reporting on television that "McCain broke the glass ceiling," implying in fact, that the pick had nothing to do with Palin or her qualifications, but merely her gender.

It's fitting that the party positing affirmative action as a program that picks people exclusively based on race or gender rather than qualification should do something similar given an opportunity for political advancement. While Obama is promising change through policy, not simply through the circumstances of his birth, the McCain campaign thinks his appeal is simply visual and demographic, and therefore something they can exploit.

On her views to Gay marriage and civil rights I quote Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

"America may not know much about Sarah Palin, but based on what our community has seen of her, we know enough. Sarah Palin not only supported the 1998 Alaska constitutional amendment banning marriage equality but, in her less than two years as Governor, even expressed the extreme position of supporting stripping away domestic partner benefits for state workers. When you can't even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it's a frightening window into where she stands on equality."

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate is further evidence that a McCain presidency will be just another four years of the same old Bush-style anti-choice policies. Just like McCain, Palin opposes a woman's right to choose. Palin has also stated her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

"John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate proves just how rigid and extreme his administration would be when it comes to a woman's right to choose," Keenan said. "For 25 years, McCain has opposed a woman's right to choose, and we know that he will continue to push anti-choice policies in the White House. McCain's pick of anti-choice Sarah Palin is further evidence that his White House will be just another four years of Bush-style policies. Any remaining doubts about McCain's extreme anti-choice position should be put to rest when voters learn about the combined anti-choice records of Sarah Palin and John McCain."

In addition to further associating McCain with the Republican culture of corruption, the Palin pick undermines one of his main anti-Obama narratives. Perhaps It's now laughable to hear McCain assail Obama's supposed lack of experience after naming the first-term governor, only one-and-a-half years into her term, of the 47th largest state with a smaller population than a major US city, to be his running mate.

Another US blogger says here:
"Palin lacks any foreign policy experience, and is bereft of even the two core areas of policy expertise that governors are supposed to bring to a ticket, agricultural policy (Alaska doesn't have much in the way of traditional agriculture) and urban affairs (Anchorage is the 65th largest city in the US, behind giants such as Corpus Christi). She's easily the least experienced running mate in recent memory, which is pretty scary, given McCain's age and his history of cancer."

What does everyone else think?

1 comment:

Jonny Through Glass said...

Hi jaz. I'm equally anti Palin. I heard two interesting us politics points relating to her this weekend.
The first was about voting for women because they were women, and supporting (or not supporting) anyone on racial gouunds. The initial statement was that american women would vote for Palin because she was a woman. While there are a number of women who would take that position in support of the fact that a woman has achived where men could have, it has never been possible to assume that any group will "vote for their own". All groups even those in close communities are diverse and complex and made of individuals who ultimateley have their own choice. Similairly no matter how difficult it has been to get to a position of power it is no guarantee of the qualities and beliefs of the person only a beleif in themselves.
The second comment was the astute party decision to have Palin as McCain's running mate.
Palin is a thorough republican who upholds many beliefs seen as traditional republican-american. While McCain is the friendly face of republicans, great for swinging the middle ground, Palin is the anchor for all the tired republicans who fancy a bit of Obamas hope. And as you mention at the end of your great breakdown of Palin, she has little experience of metropolitan america. In Alaska she can promote the free american ideal and as john McCain is old as the hills and has an unfortunate medical history she may be able to lead with those ideals before long.

I hope Obama makes it through, because I think that he will inspire people to become more proactive in the political process and there's a chance that as a leader he will be a leader who listens to his electorate but there is no guarantee who he will listen to or which part of the electorate will shout loudest.