Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ye Ole political rant

Via Mrs. Gloria:

Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

By Gloria Steinem
September 4, 2008

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that

even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the

Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a

first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many

men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted

violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm,

who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny

to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a

boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him

and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has

never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life

more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing

pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no

way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin

shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive

and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention

that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a

presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a

platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood

for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for

McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll

amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on

issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the

job because she has children in need of care, especially if they

wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining

her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which

she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen.

Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month

about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question

until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every

day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on

the war in Iraq."

She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular,and

she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to

give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by

McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no

state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action

for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet

standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush

administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job

candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The

difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat

away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin

out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference

between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing

ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a

supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain

could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who

has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or

Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away

from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to

opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: 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 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.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle

Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she

does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of

fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town.

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.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James

Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely

waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting

for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains

from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and

most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist

majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to

support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to

invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs

than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national

stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the

home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are

campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at

home for their children.

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the

Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now

supporting Barack Obama.

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