There is nothing historic about the candidacy of Sarah Palin. In a blatant move of strategy, Senator John McCain countered the nomination of a black man to a major party ticket with the nomination of a woman to his own. While history should certainly note that Palin is only the second female vice presidential candidate to appear on a major party ticket, there is nothing really significant about the rest of the story.
In fact, does it even matter that McCain has nominated a female candidate if she isn’t willing to bring women’s issues to the table? If Sarah Palin won’t stand along the frontlines of feminism, then it should seem pretty obvious that she is nothing more than a shiny lure for voters in a box of dull, socially conservative candidates.
We needn’t look beyond her record to understand that Sarah Palin is uninterested in shifting the landscape of civil rights in this country and working towards a more equitable America. According to the 2006 Eagle Forum Alaska Questionnaire, Palin is in favor of abstinence only education in schools; in itself, this decision seems to disproportionately affect women, by not providing them with the tools to make informed and fair decisions about the health of their bodies.
In the same survey, Palin was asked to list her priorities with regards to families during her time in office. Her biggest concern was that of a parent’s right to choose the venue in which their child is educated, followed by maintaining marriage as being between a man and a woman followed by a call to reduce drugs, gang violence and infractions of second amendment rights.
The right-wing agenda aside, it would seem that the priority of any woman, any mother and any governor would be to focus efforts on expanding child healthcare, after school education programs and family assistance programs. Instead, Palin has prioritized the sanctity of marriage over any of these initiatives — suggesting again that her priority isn’t American families, but a religious right-wing agenda. One might also note that in 2008, Palin used a gubernatorial veto to reduce funding for teenage mother programs.
Palin has claimed, herself, that she is as “pro-life as any candidate can be,” only supporting abortions if pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Have we now arrived at a place in American politics where even women won’t respect another woman’s right to choose? The prospect of expecting men to continue respecting the right to choose becomes even more taunting when we comprehend the reality of Sarah Palin’s position.
When John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate, he assumed a lot. He assumed that the thousands of Hillary supports would drift to his side eager to elect a woman to the White House. He assumed that simply nominating a woman, alone, was enough to prove how progressive his party can be. When we define Sarah Palin by her gender, where she is from and what she has done, she certainly is a unique candidate. But in the grand scheme of things she is just one more wealthy, white male eager to further the cause of conservative, right wing America.