If I was in Palin’s shoes

I was asked this week: “If you were Sarah Palin, would you have said yes to John McCain?”

I would have hesitated, certainly. I never think about any position without considering my family. And with two pastors in the family, there is a lot to consider. Will my child have the best care possible? Is there enough flexibility in the job so that I can be a mom? How would the church respond to a mom? Would they freak out when she breast feeds in public? Do they like women? Will my child be exposed to a sexist environment, where she constantly hears unfair complaints about her mom? How will that affect her spiritually and emotionally? Does the church expect children to be perfect? Will they look after her and care for her when I can’t, or when there’s no way to hire a babysitter? Are there job opportunities for my husband? Will we have enough income to avoid marital stress?

I could go on and on… but you get the picture. Being a mother does not keep me from working, but it does make things more complicated. There are times when there may not be the perfect answer to all of these questions. And I have often looked at the messiness of our lives, and wondered if I should stay at home. But I know I would be devastated and frustrated, and I have to think about myself as well. As they say in South, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Having a working mom might be difficult, but living with a depressed mother certainly is no picnic….

Anyways, we’re not talking here about a pastorate of a 200-member church. We are talking about Vice President and, chances are, maybe even President. And we’re not talking about one child (as is my case), we’re talking about five. One who is five months old with Down’s Syndrome. And one who is five-months pregnant.

I still think I would have taken the opportunity. Perhaps I’m too driven (as may people have said about Palin), but you know why I would have taken it? Because if I was a Republican (I’m not), I would realize that my acceptance would not just affect my family, but it would affect every single family in the United States—even the most conservative ones. Our country has a deep and dark history of social oppression against women, which is largely rooted in conservative Christianity. The acceptance would change all the rules.

According to the rules of many religious conservatives in our country, women should not be in leadership positions outside or even inside of the home. Parents (and especially moms) are responsible for the indiscretions of their children. Abstinence—not birth control—is the only key that will keep young women from pregnancy and (sadly) the poverty that often results.

And in just these short days, we are beginning to see some pliability in the rules. As a woman, I’m delighted to see them changing, especially on the religious front. I love seeing Dr. Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, say that a woman can run this country, even though he once signed the dreaded document:

A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect and to lead his family. A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being “in the image of God” as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his “helper” in managing their household and nurturing the next generation.

Hhmmm… now… if a woman can run the country, can she run a church?

I’m delighted that we have a VP candidate who breast-feeds during briefings. Palin’s young daughter is pregnant, and she does not deserve the scrutiny. But idealistic abstinence policies, like the ones that Palin promotes, do deserve serious examination. As do childcare issues, support for women and infants, and family leave policies.

There are things that I don’t like seeing. I don’t like when people assume that Palin’s dumb, because she’s young and pretty (like the quick spin that compared her to Dan Quayle). I don’t like the assumption that she got the job because she’s pretty either.

Most of all, I don’t like her policies and her inexperience. Actually, I don’t know many of her policies, because of her inexperience (and no, I don’t buy the argument that her experience matches Obama’s. I can’t even find much legislation that she’s voted on, and I would certainly never belittle the work of community organizing).

But a couple things are certain: Palin expects that the US can drill our way out of our petroleum dependence. And we don’t know what she thinks on matters of foreign policy, but she promises to be tough. And, as a mom who would love to see my daughter grow up in a cleaner, safer world, I know that I can’t support her. Lipstick or not, I just can’t stomach another pit bull.

Photo’s by Luis Alves

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15 thoughts on “If I was in Palin’s shoes

  1. Land is already quoted as differentiating between running the marriage or the church and running the government. Apparently the Bible is not specific on that one. He is not opening the door to church (or family) leadership for women. If I run across the quote again I’ll link to it.

  2. Great post, Carol. What I’m noticing is all my own “stuff” that gets triggered by Palin’s nomination. Which is funny, I didn’t feel that way about Hillary.

  3. She got the job because she’s aggressively personable and meets all of the litmus test criteria required by the most deeply conservative Republicans.

    What was interesting about Palin’s “experience” counterargument last night was that she compared being a mayor to being a community organizer. But if you follow the narrative of Palin’s experience and Obama’s experience, that’s not really the match. It’s his seven years as a state senator that lines up with her mayoral experience. When Obama was working as a community organizer, Gov. Palin was a sports reporter. Ah well. Such nuances don’t make for good red meat speeches, I guess.

  4. When it was announced Palin was the VP pick, Rush Limbaugh commented, “we’re the ones with the babe on the ticket.”

    Yea. Thanks Rush, for somehow transporting us back to 1954.

    But, regardless of personal feelings towards the Republican party, I can’t help but feel frustrated at the flagrant sexual double standard in American society. Women in politics are scrutinized if they are “too pretty,” derided if they are “too homely.” Perhaps that’s why Hillary stuck with the pants suits–not too trendy, not too dowdy.

    I think the same double standard applies to ministry, too, though less obvious, which perhaps makes it more dangerous.

  5. Carol, I tried to post about this, but you did so much better.

    And how ironic, that the Southern Baptists are ok with her running the country, but she (or no other woman) can run a home or a church.

    To be fair, I do think there are women pastors in the Assemblies of God church, where she used to be a member. I also think they run into a whole lot of sexism. A whole lot.

  6. I am really bothered by the Pro-Life stance that does not include life for all. It is OK to demand that babies be born and that people be murdered by the state to pay for their crimes. It is not OK to take care of those babies that were demanded to be born to parents that can not care for them and deny those children toe opportunities the economic ruling class has. Therefore relegating them to a life of desperation, hardship, and toil to eek out a living that increases their probability to encounter life choices that breed a criminal lifestyle.
    Yes, that is the way of Christ.
    Yes, Sarah, it is in Gods plan…I am not sure what god you are referring to.

    I am saddened that history must be set on a stage like this. I cannot condone the actions of the GOP. I am emotionally moved to disagree with this appointment and the GOP party. This coming from a life long Republican. I cannot support McCain/Palin as this country seeks change. I fear for the future of this nation if left in the hands of the war-mongering pachyderms for another 4 years.

  7. Palin nailed it last night for blue collared workers and small town America. This election is going to be very close.

    And Ryan, comparing innocent unborn children to murderous serial killers like Bundy is absurd.

  8. I don’t want to speak for Ryan… but I think what he might have been saying is, if you’re pro-life because you believe that life begins at conception and you believe that God creates everyone, people are made in God’s image, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn around and say that the death penalty should stand.

    Everyone who is killed by our penal system in our country is not Bundy. We put to death developmentally disabled people, or people who did not get appropriate defense. We put to death people who just might be innocent. It seems to be racially skewed as well– there are way more minorities on death row.

    They are still created by God, and they are still made in God’s image.

  9. Pitting small town America against the rest of America is the latest Rove-type election strategy. It is the get elected even if it further divides America strategy. If the church doesn’t condemn such divisiveness, we aren’t being the church.

  10. Carol – Richard Mouw talked about this in this morning’s Post. There are Christians who believe the Bible supports women’s leadership in govt. because of Esther. But supposedly there is no comparable leader for the church in the NT. Or something like that.

    Ugh.

  11. Carol, the Land quote can be found here. Among other things, he says, “The only restrictions we find in Scripture are, that for whatever reason women are not to be in charge of a marriage and women are not to be in charge of a church. That has nothing to do with governor, or senator or the House of Representatives, or president, or vice president.”

  12. Just blogged about Palin yesterday on NNPCW’s blog, Network Notes. Writing about her really helped me to sort out how I feel about her and the McCain/Palin ticket. I like your take on the matter, Carol. It would be nice not to have to live through yet another pit bull.

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