Palin as Progress for Women's Movement

Cartoon by James Rosenthal, Staff Cartoonist.

By Kevin Zwick
Outlook Editor

When Sarah Palin was chosen by Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain to be his Vice-Presidential running mate, it definitely caused a stir in the political world.

Senator Hillary Clinton has just run an epic campaign against Senator Barack Obama, putting 18 million cracks, provided by those who voted for her, in the Glass Ceiling, which the women’s movement in America has been pushing against since before the birth of this nation.

When Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the Democratic Presidential candidacy, many women who supported her felt they have been ripped-off. It was even obvious that many of these women were either going to vote for John McCain or not vote at all because they were so disenfranchised.

Then Barack Obama chose Senator Joe Biden as his running mate, which made these former Clinton supporters even more disheartened, since the Obama-Clinton ticket was purposed as the “Dream Ticket” by many pundits.

Right before the Republican National Convention, John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Most of the nation was surprised that McCain picked her, a no-name in the political realm on a national level, over more obvious choices, like Mitt Romney, Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. But Palin was perfect for scooping up those women voters who were having a tough decision to make this November.

Palin touts her record as a small town mayor and governor, along with her being a member of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and being a mother, as experience to be Vice President as well as President. She is a social conservative, whom the McCain campaign says was chosen to excite the Christian Conservative wing of the Republican base, but she also excites the disenfranchised Clinton supporters that would like to see a woman in a high political office.

This is where the Palin strategy hits a snag: She is strongly opposed to Roe v. Wade, and her running mate has done very little to help progress the women’s movement in the United States. The issue of Roe v. Wade is a very touchy subject to talk about, since it mixes political views and religion, but it is an issue that deals greatly with women’s rights.

Roe v. Wade secures women the right to have to ability to make the decision to abort an unborn fetus. Like many Americans, Palin and McCain are anti-abortion for religious reasons. They feel that this is not a decision that lies with the woman, but that since the moment of conception, there is life that cannot be harmed.

This is a controversial topic that can be argued about for an eternity, but there are other women’s rights issues that McCain has opposed, many of them being  policies on sex education, basic healthcare, and family planning.

John McCain was opposed to the “Equal Pay Act for Women,” in which he passed on a vote for women to be able to retrieve back pay if they discovered they were paid less because they were discriminated against. He said that women “need education and training” opposed to retrieving equal pay.

“I think it is a direct contradiction for Sarah Palin to be running with him if he doesn’t support the Equal Pay for equal work, and he voted against the Violence Against Women Act,” said Amelia Campbell-Drexler, a junior at Marywood. “I just don’t understand how any woman could support and endorse McCain.”

Neither does the National Political Women’s Caucus. They did not endorse Sarah Palin because she “doesn’t support the bottom line issues” that the Women’s Political Caucus stands for, which include reproductive rights for women.

McCain has also opposed various healthcare policies for women: In 2005, he opposed spending $100 million to prevent unintended and teen pregnancies (which reduces the number of abortions); in 1990, he opposed Title X, which provides low-income and uninsured women and families healthcare services from breast and cervical cancer screenings to birth control.

McCain also opposed comprehensive sex education in high school, but instead supports abstinence education. He opposed legislation that would require that abstinence education to be medically or scientifically based.

Of course, reader, you may be saying, “This is all about McCain. Sarah Palin didn’t sign (or not sign) any of those laws.” And you would be correct, but she supports her running mate and supports his views, including teaching abstinence and not comprehensive sex education.

“I think it is extremely contradictory to be so opposed to women getting abortions if you are unwilling to practice in preventative measures and to support preventative measures, and it shows little logic and reasoning to me. I think it shows her inability to understand the consequences of her running mate’s decisions. I think she is really out of touch with the effects of his desired policies,” says Campbell-Drexler.

So could the Sarah Palin pick be just a political move, in order to gain the votes of disenfranchised Clinton supporters?

In a Washington Post interview, Republican Political Wizard Karl Rove said he believed that McCain’s choice of Palin was “not a governing decision but a campaign decision.” “[Because of his record on women’s rights,] it goes to show he just wants Hillary Clinton’s voters…he isn’t really looking for substance but is just looking for the presidency and doesn’t care about the American people,” says Meredith Yannuzzi, a junior at Marywood.

When the McCain campaign chose Palin, they saw a surge in the polls because of her exciting personality and initial appeal to certain Americans. But now, the Republican Ticket is behind in national polls and is down in many important swing states. These poll drops can be caused by either: (A) Palin flubbed her only unscripted media interviews; (B) people are realizing that Palin could potentially be the leader of the free world and she says she has foreign policy experience because of the close proximity of Alaska to Russia; (C) the current economic crisis is being attributed to the failed Bush policies of the last 8 years, which McCain helped pass; or (D) ALL OF THE ABOVE. I’ll let the reader decide.

Even though the Obama campaign is reiterating the fact that the “Maverick” McCain voted with Bush 95%, there is one occasion in which he voted against Bush: In 2007, Bush voted to re-fund the Violence Against Women Act … John McCain opposed.