Perhaps my headline is a bit strong given that I haven't heard Sarah Palin's VP acceptance speech yet. But, I have my doubts that her speech will put to rest any of my concerns with her candidacy.
I have no doubt that she is bright, capable and ambitious. Really, in 99% of the cases, you have to be for success in politics.
She's a woman, and working mom, with conservative values cherished by the Republican Party. That's where it starts to get sticky for me. I won't vote for a woman just because she's a woman, or a working mom like myself. I'm putting race and gender on the shelf when it comes to deciding who's most qualified. Rather, I'm interested in who is in best position to have my interests at heart.
One would think that Sarah Palin would be in the best position to understand the complexities of raising a family and balancing a career. That there are times in a woman's life when career ambitions have to take a back seat to the more pressing needs of family. That a true commitment to family values means direct involvement by both parents. That sometimes you have to say no to some great opportunities because right now your kids need you more.
That's where I have a problem with Sarah Palin. She's sending one son off to war, the youngest of her children, an infant, has Down's Syndrome, and her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Any one of these situations might give any parent pause when considering a life-changing career, but to have all three situations and think "Gee, this would be a great time to run for Vice President," seems cold at best, perhaps even mercenary.
It's hard to conceive that these issues will never create distractions for Ms. Palin. And, in any other job, in any other career, she'd be expected to deal with it and still show up to work. But, we're not talking about just any other 9-5 job. We're talking about being one heartbeat from the presidency with travel demands and schedule demands that make it impossible to be a dependable mother.
I feel the most sorry for her 17-year-old daughter. Sarah Palin's infant son no doubt will receive excellent care, albeit without much involvement from his mother. And her older son will take care of himself. But, her daughter seemingly is being thrown to the wolves. It's hard to imagine how much direct support Bristol will get from her mother while mom is jet-setting around the world. And, when it comes to the birth of a child, shouldn't it be Bristol's mom who the girl should be able to rely on for help?
I've never been offered the chance to be vice president of the United States, but I have considered opportunities that would have required a similar upheaval in my family's life. In the end, it became difficult to rationalize the sacrifice my family would endure for my own career ambition. That type of decision would seem to fall in line with the promoted Republican values.
Instead, Sarah Palin's decision to allow the her daughter to endure the limelight as a result of her candidacy perhaps is a more realistic example of the promise that Republican morals offer: Let's teach our kids only about abstinence and, when they screw up and get pregnant, force them into a teen marriage or onto welfare rolls, leave the child-rearing entirely to them, and then push for the death penalty when the young dad shakes the baby.
No compassion. No support. No help.
And, as far as I'm concerned, no vote.