When I was young and naive, I was active in the Young Republicans. We did a phone bank for some terribly important initiative, and we invited our U.S. Representative to the Spanish Fork High School. We canvassed for voter registration, and I enjoyed the American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State. Politics, in other words, was big.
Politics makes you think you can change the world. If you can register an old lady living with seven cats in a weed-choked little house to vote, you can change the world.
Until you grow up and realize that even Republicans cheat on their wives and even Democrats drive gas-guzzling black SUVs.
I’ve been drifting slowly leftwards ever since, but I’m still a Republican, except when I entertain Libertarian fantasies.
I’m also a woman. And a Christian. These things should all go well together, but sometimes there’s tension.
At church on Sunday, Sally (7) asked me about the hymn we were singing, which starts: “Tis sweet to sing the matchless love Of Him who left His home above And came to earth — oh wondrous plan — To suffer, bleed, and die for man.”
Why Mom, she wanted to know, Why does it say “man” instead of “girls” or “women”?
I gave her the spiel — man is short for “mankind” and means both men and women, and girls and boys. Like when people say “The Dick and Jane Family,” and they really mean Sally, Susan, and Spot too. That answer satisfied her for now, and it satisfies me.
Mostly. Sometimes, though, I wonder why even the language I speak excludes me.
Wouldn’t it be great to show my daughter a female Commander-in-Chief?
I learned of Sarah Palin‘s being chosen for the VP spot on the Republican ticket from the Mommy Internets on Twitter. It should be a most fantastically exciting political development. I’ve never really liked Hillary: it’s easy for even an unenthusiatic Republican to be pretty disgusted by the whole Clinton machine.
But Sarah Palin! Miss Wasilla! Married to high school sweetheart! Mother of Five! Pro-Life! Something about Polar Bears!
What a dream it would be to have someone interesting and admirable and exciting and female AND Republican to vote for.
So why aren’t I down at the local caucus volunteering for flyer-envelope-licking duty? What could I possibly have against someone who hasn’t done enough in office to have much of a record on issues and policies?
Can a Stay-at-Home Mother be Pro-Palin?
Many pro-lifers are excited about Palin, because she chose to continue her fifth pregnancy even after finding out her son had Downs Syndrome.
Now she has chosen to run for the Vice Presidency of the United States when that baby is four-months-old, and I’d like to know how and why she made that choice, and how it’s going to work.
I’m not saying that mothers shouldn’t work. Each woman has a unique set of circumstances that affects what she wants to do and what she can do and what she has to do. Different women have different energy levels, interests, ambitions, and abilities. We also differ in our family support, number of children, age of children, health, economic resources, and social and academic opportunities, etc.
Most women spend a lot of their time balancing their own needs and wants with those of their families. (Good husbands and fathers do the same).
Marriage is a partnership, and if Palin’s husband were a stay-at-home parent, I’d have no reservations whatsoever about her ambitions. If one partner in a marriage has an extremely unconducive-to-family-life job, it’s nice if the other is able to give greater attention to the children. One benefit of unconducive-to-family life jobs is that they are usually well-compensated enough to allow the other parent this luxury.
Can a Working Mother be Pro-Palin?
Governor Palin was back at the office three days after giving birth. Is that the sort of life-work balance working mothers are striving for?
The winners of November’s election will influence policies that affect mothers, stay-at-home and working. Will we have more tax credits for childcare? An equivalent tax credit for stay-at-home-parent care? Will we raise taxes to expand subsidization of day care and Head Start? Will family leave and maternity/paternity benefits increase or decrease?
Does Governor Palin understand why a woman would choose to stay home and the challenges she faces? Does she understand what most working women struggle with in seeking to balance kids and careers?
Sarah Palin was chosen for the express purpose of appealing to female voters and Hillary Clinton supporters and working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. But I’m not going to vote for someone just because they’re female or just because they’re Republican or just because they’re pro-life. I’d like to know what my candidate’s positions are, in life and in work, before I cast my vote.
Side note on Personal v. Public lives. It’s ridiculous to say that what politicians do in their private lives doesn’t affect their public service. Half (or more) of Palin’s appeal is supposed to be that she’s female, which is as personal as it gets. Also, no one complains when childhood anecdotes illustrate how deprived or hardworking or determined or principled candidates are. Should their actions and choices in adulthood carry less weight than whether or not they chopped down a cherry tree?
Natalie at Politics for Mom said this this morning:
As a mom, I am also not fond of the discussion that’s starting about how [Palin] should stay at home and raise her disabled and troubled kids. We already carry so much guilt as moms . . . especially when it comes to working and not working. It’s bad enough when your family and friends question your decision, but imagine having to answer to an entire nation. Would I be running for vice president if I was in her position? Probably not. But I respect her decision.
Yes, imagine having to answer to an entire nation. And if that doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, please don’t run for a national office.
Side note on the possibly purloined pregnancy. I’m going to hope that Governor Palin was telling the truth about her baby. CNN agrees, though I don’t know anyone else who hid a pregnancy that well. Not even Shirley Jones in The Music Man.
*Updated* Phyllis @ Aimless Conversation linked to this article about Todd Palin taking a leave of absence to spend more time with the kids and avoid conflicts of interest when Sarah Palin became governor.
So many are enraged that anyone would even talk about her being a mother in the same breath as her candidacy. Well, I just don’t agree. Personal life choices reflect policy positions (or vice versa).
The fact that Palin didn’t abort her Downs baby shows that she’s staunchly pro-life. No one gets mad when this connection is trumpeted, because it’s an obvious conclusion to draw.
The fact that Palin was back at work immediately after giving birth shows that she might not be staunchly pro-maternity leave. Doesn’t it?
Just read this article at the Washington Post, and now don’t know whether to vote for her or ask to be adopted . . . or ask . . . Where can I get a Todd Palin of my own?