Friday, August 29, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin

Talk about getting perspective in unusual ways. Who would have thought that the Republican vice-presidential pick would help me understand of some of the Barack Obama phenomenon?

I've never been able to identify very closely with the personal histories of presidential candidates. I may agree or disagree with their policies, but the biographies have never really moved me to vote one way or another--or even consider it. I've never felt any connection with Hillary Clinton--a woman, a mother--perhaps because she was defined for me during the Clinton presidency, perhaps because she's older than my mother, perhaps because her daughter is older than me.

So I've often looked down on "identity" politics--the idea that because Hillary Clinton is a woman, or Barack Obama is black, then someone would give them a more favorable look in an election. I make my choices based on actual ideas, not superficial things.

Well. John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for his running mate has forced me to change my snooty attitude a bit. When I heard it was to be Governor Palin, I got all excited. (I haven't been excited for anything McCain-related for weeks and weeks.) A mom! Someone I can really relate to! Gov. Palin is older than me, but only by a decade or so. She has five children (I have three and three-quarters), her youngest is a baby (ditto me, see also three-quarters), and she is dealing with one child with a disability (ditto me too!). She's not rich (her husband is a commercial fisherman), and she's from a small (population and political) Western state like me (Alaska vs Nevada).

(Of course, she also is the governor, politically savvy, tough-as-nails (apparently), has teenage children, and a son ready to deploy to Iraq. So obviously we are not twins separated at birth.)

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in voting for issues, not for skin color or gender. And I'm voting for the top of the ticket, not the veep. But the excitement I feel over this selection has instructed me, a little, in the way so many have felt (and feel) about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A little humbling, to be sure (I'm not always right? What??), but good to learn.

Go Sarah!


Unknown said...

Politics will always be both emotional and logical. I think the best things in life embrace reason *and* passion.

Thanks for sharing.

Keryn said...

I often have the reason, but not the passion. It's actually kind of fun to be passionate about this particular political season.

Scott Hinrichs said...

It's been a long time since I've been passionate (in a positive way) about any politician.

I will say this. Governor Palin's entry into the mix changes the future. If McCain loses, Mitt Romney will essentially spend the next four years campaigning (as will Hillary if Obama loses). If McCain wins, Mitt will be forced to challenge VP Palin for the nomination (providing she doesn't become president if McCain can't finish his term).

Assuming McCain serves two terms, Romney will be 69 and Palin will be 52 in 2016. If Republicans have felt generally positive about the McCain-Palin administration, the party will be disposed to favor Palin over Romney.

Of course, all of this is only imaginary at the moment.

Keryn said...

You've brought up an interesting point, Reach Upward. If Palin is successful as a VP, she would definitely be the favored candidate in 2012. Being a woman wouldn't hurt at all. I hadn't at all thought of it in a future-race type of way. Speculation can be fun, especially when it is too far away to really worry me.

Unknown said...

Palin has no experience in community organizing.

ShelleyG said...

Keryn, i enjoyed reading your post because I have had some of the same feelings this morning! Last night during Obama's speech they showed an African-Am. couple that were crying after the speech. I was struck by the fact that I could not empathize with them-I told my husband-'Wow, this is really cool for them. I guess I don't understand how hard it is to be a minority.' It was the identity politics thing and I too didn't get it. Our lawyer (a brilliant woman) is in Denver for the convention. She really liked Hillary. Once again, I felt no connection with her.

I hadn't heard of Palin, but when John called me I immediately googled her and got more and more excited as I read. This is a woman I get! Like you, I felt like we had many things in common and that immediately made me want to trust her to make decisions on my behalf (which is what we are trusting our politicians to do). I called John and told him I was ready to do something to help (what that is I don't know??!!??). I have been so un-excited about the GOP as I feel they seem to be just a bunch of slimy politicians! It was a matter of the lesser of 2 evils. But a reform-minded, principled MOM of 5?! OK, I can get behind that!!

I am sad about Mitt, but mostly because of the Evangelicals stance on Mormons. I find it so offensive and yes, I guess I take it personally. I do hope there will be a place in politics for him in the not too far future.

Keryn said...

"The", that's actually a point in her favor, you know! :)

Michelle--isn't it interesting? I was SO unprepared for the rush of emotion and excited when it was announced.

And I'm sad about Romney, too. I still prefer him for the top of the ticket...