Like many of our fellow Americans, I was caught completely off guard by Senator John McCain’s (Arizona-R) choice of Governor Sarah Palin (Alaska-R) for his running mate in the upcoming presidential election. After reviewing her policies, and McCain’s alternatives, it has become painfully and frightfully clear why she was chosen. I use the words painfully and frightfully with the utmost deliberateness, because if the Republican ticket wins this election, it means three things: (1) a George Lucas-esque “Return of the Oil Companies”, (2) an assault on the idea of social progress, and (3) the continuation of dishonest, manipulative, and coercive federal politics. In other words, if McCain-Palin wins, buy a hat and hold the fuck onto it.
McCain needed a boost prior to his nomination of Sarah Palin. His other choices, with the exception of Joe Lieberman (Connecticut-Indep.), would not have given him anything to work with. Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney, and other wealthy, old, white men would not fit the bill, because they did not add anything but an increased tax bracket to the McCain ticket. So, the critical question is: why Palin and not Lieberman?
For a moment, imagine the clamor among aides at the McCain headquarters on the “Straight Talk Express”. You have two sides intensely arguing with Senator McCain in the middle, much like his experience in Washington. One says, “Lieberman: he brings the experience and liberal mindedness to capture those elusive swing voters and independents, as well as his previous supporters from prior presidential bids. He could steal votes from right under the Democrats’ noses!” The other group says, “What if we got a woman? What if we stole all those uppity Hilary Clinton supporters who care more about gender than issues? And, most importantly, WE NEED SOMEONE WHO WILL GALVANIZE THE BASE! WE’VE GOT IT…PALIN!”
For all of you who are wondering what it means when pundits spout this phrase, let me play the role of political translator. It means, “We simply cannot have every social reactionary in the Midwest and the South sit at home rather than vote for McCain, who unfortunately does not hold views from the eighteenth century.” It means, “Our VP choice needs to be someone that mega-churchgoers can stand up (or kneel) for, and the only way to do that is to find someone who thinks the only trinity better than Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost is Guns, Oil, and War.” It means, “Fuck any attempt at fixing any problems in this country, because winning this election is more important to our friends in large corporations who stand to get fucked straight in their smelly pocketbooks if the Democrats win (at least for a little while).”
Surely, the Republicans among you, if there still are any, are seething. This won’t help. Sarah Palin is either a moron or in extremely intense denial. There, I said it. At this day and age, anyone who truly believes after a period of intense thought that: (1) the solution to our energy crisis is more oil drilling, (2) gay people are bad, (3) there is no such thing as global warming, (4) the protection of the 2nd Amendment is necessary, (5) “hockey mom” is a legitimate qualification for the second highest office in the country, and (6) the war in Iraq is “directed by God” does not have a fully functioning brain or is so tied up in identity politics that they are incapable of rational thought. If you don’t think that these are her policies, please read The Weekly Standard – I assure you, they are. If you think that I am a moron for saying this, please continue reading. Assuming this article, of course, is not being dictated to you because you’re illiterate.
All jokes aside, Palin’s stance on the issues is…well, scary.
Talking Point #1: The Return of Big Oil
Governor Palin has repeatedly supported drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Bypassing the whole ‘endangering the caribou’ problem, anyone who thinks that ‘more oil’ is a solution hasn’t really come to terms with the nature of energy policy. The only way that humanity can survive its ‘Green Challenge’ is to once again become a part of nature by taking out what it puts back in. Finding oil is not the issue and neither is driving down gas prices. McCain may pretend he likes wind turbines, but, as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has aptly pointed out in a couple of recent Op-Ed articles, McCain has missed or voted against the last six renewable energy bills. Why? That would severely hurt his campaign finances from the conservative business lobbies, who would eat shit if people didn’t use oil anymore. It’s as simple as that. Palin is just another example of how the McCain ticket has no regard for the environment or energy policy. The last time we gave Big Oil the reigns, it didn’t work out so well (See: 2000-2008). Moreover, Palin’s husband is employed by British Petroleum. Although I’m sure that won’t effect her decision making at all.
Talking Point #2: The Assault on the Idea of Social Progress
It doesn’t matter what your stance on abortion is. Blasphemy for a liberal, I know. But, what is more important is the idea that ideas can evolve. Not surprising that someone who discounts evolution, would deny it in other contexts, but then again, it should be. Palin campaigned hard in Alaska to introduce a “Creationist” curriculum in public schools. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What do scientists have to do, short of inventing an animal that evolves every twenty minutes, to demonstrate that they are not making this up and that the Jews didn’t put them up to it? Palin also is firmly against gay marriage, something that conservatives like to call a “pro-family” stance. There is nothing “pro-family” about it. Palin takes what biblical scripture is interpreted to mean by questionably-in-the-closet pastors and that is the end of the debate. That is anti-logical and we can no longer support that kind of thinking. Use your rational faculties to come to decisions based on evidence and we’ll talk. What does it take to convince people, nearly two thousand years after Aristotle, that logic is actually a legitimate knowledge production device? It makes me want to pull out my hair.
Talking Point #3: Coercive, Manipulative, and Dishonest Electioneering
McCain’s choice of Palin over Lieberman says one thing most explicitly – I don’t care about representing anyone but me. Like Lieberman, whose turncoat and extremely eerie speech at the Republican National Convention made even Republicans cringe, McCain has made it clear that he is in it for himself. He just wants to win. I get it John, it’s a lot of power. But maybe for just a moment you can see this as not another righteous battle between you (virtue) and bad (bad). This is about more than you. Palin has no function in this election except to get people who you clearly don’t regard very highly – reactionaries. If you did like them, and if they liked you, you would not need Palin. You appeal to them because their votes count as much as my vote and that makes them powerful. As Walther pointed out, President Bush still has a 30% approval rating. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? People that John McCain is desperately trying to befriend. David Brooks of the New York Times claims that McCain saw in Palin a “maverick” nature like his own, accepted it, and looked no further. They only met once for crying out loud – I don’t think that was it. Brooks is right, however, that Palin’s space should have been for someone with experience and strategy. Instead McCain opted for hockey sticks and guns. I’m holding my breath until after the election.