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Last week Republican presidential presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain surprised everyone by selecting the little-known governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to be his running mate in the general election. A rising star in the far-right wing of the party, Palin tipped her hat to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton for blazing a trail that she would now hopefully complete in her bid as vice president on the Republican ticket.
“18 million cracks” – a term referring to Clinton supporters during the Democratic convention in Denver last week – was hardly cracking for Palin.
She has nothing in common with Clinton or Ferraro except her gender. It is insulting that McCain would trivialize Clinton’s remarkable public support by assuming it was her gender that attracted so many voters. Women and men support Clinton because of her depth of experience, fierce intelligence, toughness and her progressive stand on the issues, including a woman’s right to choose, LGBT rights, health care for all and an economic policy that is more egalitarian than the Republican methods that favor the rich. (A favorite pundit says the Republican tag line ought to be, “Mine!”)
Under the rubric of “Maverick,” “Reform” and “Outsider,” McCain’s choice is a throwback to everything old and familiar in the fear-baiting, divisive and selfish Republican Party of the past three decades. Palin is retro on all the major issues: she does not support a woman’s right to choose; she does not support same-sex marriage; she supports oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve; she is a life-member of the National Rifle Association and opposes all gun control; she does not support universal health care, opting instead for Americans to “take more responsibility” for their health.
Right-wing Republicans and evangelicals are thrilled with the Palin choice. James Dobson of Focus On The Family, a virulently anti-gay organization, said that he is “excited” and “relieved” by the “outstanding” choice of pro-lifer Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s VP.
“We’re the ones with the babe on the ticket,” said radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, crowing about the Republican ticket, and, in so doing, demonstrating his unapologetic, sexist ideology.
“We’re thrilled,” said Karen Cross, National Right to Life political director. “Sen. McCain has demonstrated his dedication to life in his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.”
We believe that most voters – and especially LGBT voters – are able to see through this blatant pandering to the far-right Republican base. All the old policies that have shaped the radical right-wing vision of America are intact in Palin. A Vice President Palin would embrace the war, decimate Roe v. Wade, kill health care reforms, support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage and continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
Far from a reformer or an outsider, Palin’s extremist positions are the same old politics we have heard all along. The religious right demanded a candidate with her resume and they got what they wanted. She will be a heartbeat away from the presidiency and, considering that nine of the 43 previous presidents of our country got there through succession, it is critical that voters seek a real change in the direction this country takes.