When Hillary Clinton got up in front of her party’s convention and asked her supporters, “Did you vote for me or what I stand for?” I knew that this is a wise woman. She gets it. It’s the issues stupid. Wall Street, as we know it, is crumbling around us and many homes are in jeopardy of bank foreclosure; property values are plummeting and our friends and neighbors are losing their jobs; the world is pointing the finger at our nation telling us that we’re petulant and arrogant; our deficit has skyrocketed; our health care system is in shambles and the great middle class our country had been built on is falling further and further behind. We have to face the issues.
It is so easy for we women to think, “We’ve waited so long to be recognized, let’s just go for whomever as long as she is a woman.” When Sarah Palin was first nominated by her party, many women on both ends of the spectrum did that. They were so exuberant about a young, vibrant woman getting her party’s nomination as vice president, they forgot to ask, “What does she stand for?” Hopefully, their gut reaction has changed with thought and reflection.
Two interviews with women have stuck in my mind; they keep nagging at me. I can’t pry them lose. The first was with a woman of age, probably in retirement, but vital and full of energy. When asked about Sarah Palin, she said, “I am a constitutionalist. I believe in free speech and property rights. I’m delighted with the Republican ticket. I’m going for McCain.”
The second was an interview with a lesbian couple. The reporter, on passing their house and seeing both a Hillary and a McCain placard on the front lawn, stopped in to get these women’s views. They proclaimed their dismay with how Hillary’s campaign had turned out, and said that now that McCain had gone for a woman, they were going to vote for him.
In the first case I thought, how strange that a woman who values free speech so highly would not question the Republican ticket. How odd that she had dismissed Sarah Palin’s behavior toward freedom of speech when Mayor of Wasilla. Did she think that Sarah Palin would magically act differently or change her values once on the national scene. Palin demanded that certain books be removed from the library and when the librarian balked she tried to fire her from her post. This is a simple freedom of speech case in which Sarah Palin came out clearly against this most fundamental right.
In the second instance, I wondered how two lesbian women trying to make a home and live together as a married couple could throw their support for the Republican ticket. Did they think that Sarah Palin would miraculously change her views about gay marriage and through some mysterious conversion now support it?
In both cases, I believe that these intelligent women neglected to look under the covers and to question. They forgot to think. In each case they let emotions and beliefs take over. I always marvel when Republicans talk about how democrats are the party of big government; tax and spend. Our biggest deficients in the last thirty years have been in Republican presidencies, starting with Ronald Reagan and ending with George W. Bush. Our government is bloated; personal freedoms have been dismantled; and a cadre of private contractors , all friends of the Republican administration, are lining their pockets with our tax money.
Our financial system has been allowed to go haywire; instead of prudent policy and regulation, we have a hodgepodge of either too strong or too weak regulation, or none at all. The problem is not too much or too little, it is the lack of having the right policy and regulation to protect our homes, our retirements, our livelihoods, and our children’s welfare while at the same time providing an economic environment in which our businesses can prosper. This is no easy task. It is hard. And, it is necessary.
Slogans are deceptive. Labels are easy. Getting at the substance can be work and demands that we question, probe, and think. We can do it. We’ve just grown lazy. We’ve become complacent in a world that zaps us 24 hours a day with gibberish, advertising, and “entertainment.” It is time to get fit again or our quality of life will continue to degrade with each passing day.
All original content copyright 2008 Mary E. Slocum