At the beginning of this election, I told my parents that I would not vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama unless Mike Huckabee was chosen as the Republican nominee. At the time, my parents felt I would eventually come around and vote Democrat. They were still shocked that I had registered Republican. After all, nice Jewish girls do not vote Republican. Today I have to admit something no one ever wants to admit: my parents were right. I cast my absentee ballot for Barack Obama.
In the primary, I voted for John McCain and as a moderate like myself, I felt he was the best choice. But since February of this year, two important things have changed: first, I personally believe many of this Republican administration’s actions have led to an economic crisis being widely compared to the Great Depression, and second, adding Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket. Because most of us are sick of hearing about the economy, I think it’s important to understand why many individuals like myself are changing their votes because of McCain’s Vice Presidential selection.
Sarah Palin represents the religious fundamentalism many moderates and most liberals hate within the Republican Party. Sarah Palin bases many of her rational policy decisions on irrational religious beliefs, including teaching creationism in public schools, a denial of global warming, advocating abstinence-only education, and, finally, opposing a woman’s right to choose even in cases of rape and incest.
As a religious person, I understand using a moral foundation from a religion to form a personal code of ethics. I do not understand, as many outside the fundamentalist evangelical Christian right have trouble with as well, how you can take verses from the Bible and directly apply their literal meanings to contemporary policy decisions while simply ignoring and failing to understand other verses in the Bible, as well as important historical contexts.
Sarah Palin’s religious fundamentalism ties into the most important reason her selection as Vice President has alienated moderates. She represents the anti-intellectualism that her supporters euphemistically label as resembling “an ordinary American.” America is a democracy and therefore our leaders should be able to sympathize with the masses, but this in no way means that our world leaders should be in any way “ordinary.” Our leaders should be part of an elite that both understands domestic policy and international relations on a higher level than “ordinary Americans” but advocate these views in a way that will benefit the interests of their constituencies of “ordinary Americans.”
Maybe Americans find it comforting that Sarah Palin displays no command of international and domestic policy because they don’t have this knowledge either. Maybe they find her relatable when she doesn’t understand current terms, like the Bush Doctrine, or historical ideas, like what exactly a vice president does. Maybe they find it refreshing that Sarah Palin’s first trip outside the United States was last year. I, on the other hand, find it scary. Ordinary Americans should have a voice in American politics, but not the deciding voice.
When it came down to it, I could not vote for John McCain who, by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, implicitly approved of this aspect of the Republican Party. Rumors are circulating that Sarah Palin wants to run in 2012; I hope by then the Republican Party comes to its senses.