Wednesday, Sep 3, 2008, 12:36 pm
A Setback For Women, A Setback For America Itself
In his stirring speech last week, Obama urged America not to "make a big election about small things". Yet here we are, discussing not Sarah Palin's record or programme but Jesus, guns, and as one feminist blogger put it yesterday, "the uterine activity of her family". This is a setback for women, especially in a year that seemed to promise a breakthrough, but it is also a setback for America itself.
Obama made his name four years ago with a speech that called for an end to the civil war of red against blue. In 2008, he urged a different kind of election, one that would match the gravity of the hour. But the naming of Sarah Palin, and the reaction it has provoked, has dashed that hope. Americans are, once again, fighting over the questions that politics can never really settle - faith, sexuality - and pushing aside the ones that it can. And which it must.
There's no question in my mind that this mess is the point, talking about Jesus, guns, and social issues are precisely the reason she was selected. What I'm not convinced about is that this noise is going to last beyond this week, let alone all the way home to November. This election is still about John McCain and Barack Obama. And whatever you think about Sarah Palin, this whole mess does not reflect well on the "Maverick."
Jarrett Dapier is a former assistant publisher at In These Times. Previous work for ITT includes interviews with playwright Christopher Shinn and Fugazi guitarist, Ian Mackaye. He currently works with teens at the Evanston Public Library where he runs a recycled drumming program and directs stage adaptations of young adult literature. He lives in Evanston, IL.