Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Public discourse

Let me begin by lifting up my former father-in-law. He and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but he is always interested in my opinion, always listens respectfully to what I say, and he is no one's puppet. He goes out of his way to learn from others, especially those who feel or think or believe differently than he does.

He and people like him are the best hope for this country.

I have been so disappointed this week in every side's discourse, if you can call it that, around Sarah Palin's presumptive nomination as vice-president. From the Democrats' side, it's been shocking to read that she should be "forced," as a conservative, to stay home and take care of her kids. What, we only believe in feminism for women who think like us? It's one thing to call hypocrisy on Phyllis Schlafly, who really did advocate for women to stay home while she enjoyed a distinguished public career, but as far as I know, Palin has not said similar things. And what about the esteemed Mr. Palin? Doesn't he bear some responsibility for rearing the children as well? Or does that automatically redound to Mommy?

It's been even more appalling to read hints that Palin bore her Down syndrome child solely for political purposes. Here I thought the meaning of pro-choice (which is legally extended, thank God, even to those who are anti-choice) was that women have a choice, not an obligation to abort. My most charitable response is that such sentiments are counterproductive.

Of course the Republicans and right-leaning pundits have had some pretty boneheaded things to say too. I'm sorry if I can't believe that being mayor of Wasilla teaches you any more about how the Senate works than your average high school civics class, or that I should do anything but laugh out loud when someone suggests that Alaska is right next door to Russia and therefore qualifies as a kind of classroom in foreign policy (hey, did you forget about Canada? or is that just a state in your book?). But at least nothing I've seen from them this week has made me ashamed of my humanity.

Both sides get demerits for discussing Palin's, uh, physical attributes. Really? Is this the 21st century?

My prayer is to be a little more like FFIL.

1 comment:

The Simpleton said...

Just in case I've left any doubts, my first response to McCain's pick was Most. Cynical. Choice. Ever. But adding cynicism to cynicism doesn't really solve anything; it just makes us all a little less.