Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Thought We Were Better Than This, But I Was Wrong

It has been a while since I have commented on the current political landscape and, even now, I feel hesitant to write much about it.

I am very uncomfortable, extremely dismayed and deeply saddened at the behavior of some of us Democrats and the continued diatribe concerning Sarah Palin, but I suppose the sexism and misogyny was still just below the surface, just waiting to rear it's ugly head.

As of this morning I have decided to pull back and not read or comment on any of the news sites, blogs and forums in which I found solace when Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign. What I looked for in these sites were the non-judgmental progressive Democrats with whom I share common values and ideas. This morning, when I visited my favorite site, Talk Left, I knew that a break was in order.

Talk Left was, in my view, pretty much the last bastion of true progressive Democratic thinkers, writers and activists. Everyone, including PUMA's, were welcome to comment as long as the discourse remained civilized, respectful and inclusive. Everything else - Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, etc. - had all sunk to hate mongering. Now, many - not all, but many - on Talk Left are doing the same. Comments, and even some blogs, are, for the most part, sexist and hateful.

First there is the experience. You think there isn't a double standard? Although you are entitled to your opinion, my opinion is that you are wrong. Remember Tim Kaine, the potential pick for Obama's Vice President? Kaine has the same amount of experience as Sarah Palin, but, oddly enough, he was considered a serious and acceptable selection.

Then, there were the rumors that Sarah Palin did not actually give birth to Trig, that it was actually her 17 year old daughter, Bristol's. And Bristol is pregnant again. Even after she announced her daughter's pregnancy, there were some in the mainstream media and the majority of left bloggers still arguing that it was a cover up and they wanted to see Trig's birth certificate.

Now, Sarah Palin is being criticized for taking her family to the Republican Convention and "parading" her children, specifically her pregnant daughter. She stands accused of "using" her children and publicizing her daughter's pregnancy. But, what appears to make Palin an even worse mother is the "issue" of her son, Trig, the baby with Down's Syndrome. "Trig should have been asleep and under the care of a babysitter - back home or at their hotel." "Trig was a diversion." "Palin should stay at home." " with the baby." "She doesn't belong in the work place."

Apparently, even for enlightened progressive Democrats, a woman's first responsibility must be with the children. It doesn't seem to matter if her talent and focus is on the workplace and she has others who can help, including the child's father who is currently the new child's primary caregiver, and that Palin took her most recent baby to work with her after only 3 days in the hospital. She should not even consider being at work. Does all of this sound like progressive Democratic thought to you? It sounds more like back-in-the-day, old-fashioned Republican rhetoric to me. It really doesn't matter what a woman does when she is seeking high office, she will be criticized and reviled. If she has children, she should be home. If she's single, she will be accused of being unfeminine and unable to "get" a man, or, worse, a lesbian. If she doesn't have children, damn it, we want a family!

Don't misunderstand, I completely disagree with Sarah Palin's positions on most issues, but I admire her as a woman. Palin didn't begin her campaign boasting about her daughter's pregnancy. She was forced to announce it because of the horrible, vicious and untrue rumors that were being spread. What Palin did was take the bull by the horns instead of retreating. She decided to give some dignity to her daughter's pregnancy and refused to hide her children. Sarah Palin invited Bristol's boyfriend to stand by and support her daughter. With all of their flaws and challenges, Sarah Palin stood proudly with her family in front of America, not unlike Barack and Michelle Obama did with their daughters, George and Laura Bush did with their daughters and Bill and Hillary Clinton did with Chelsea.

In our sexist attacks on Sarah Palin, we Democrats seem to have embraced the very behaviors, views and mind-sets that we have accused the Republicans and conservative Christian right of attempting to shove down our collective throats for years.

And, oddly enough, the Republicans welcomed and embraced Sarah Palin and her flawed family with cheers and ovations.

We should be so ashamed.

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