Sarah Palin

Those of you who know me know I don’t talk about politics much. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested, of course, and nothing interests me more than US politics. Mostly because Canada — my birth nation — sits right on top of the States and when they jump, we usually feel the impact.

I’m a little late to the game on Sarah Palin, yes. I’d like to get a word in edgewise anyhow.

I like Sarah Palin. I know I’m not supposed to, as a Canadian, like a Republican vice presidential candidate, especially one who so vocally opposes a lot of the values I hold dear. Still, I like her. She does, however, scare me.

She’s probably a great person. She looks like she’d be a lot of fun to be around. She seems to be vivacious and spunky, and if you’ve ever met my wife you’ll see I like to be around those kinds of people.

Yet for all the things I like about her personally — for all the things about her personality I admire — I can’t help but be scared by her. The policies she represents, the sort of religious Republican right-wing agenda she embodies, and the stunning lack of knowledge she displays all roll together to make me extremely leery of what she would do as a vice president.

Vice presidents for the longest time did absolutely nothing. They sat around and waited for the President to die. They were the guy in the wings who reads novels while the main actors perform the play. That era is clearly past, with the Vice President — along with the First Lady, should she be so inclined — filling a much more activist role. That is to say, VPs are the bully pulpit to the President’s political manoeuvrings. Vice Presidents use their position to nudge policy their way, even though their role in the Executive Branch is ill-defined and essentially powerless. Recent Vice Presidents, such as Dick Cheney, have had a great influence on the direction the government takes. They are spokespeople for their various causes, and have a great platform from which to raise awareness and money for whatever they put their minds to.

Sarah Palin looks ill-equipped to properly serve this function. Even if she were informed about issues other than oil and bridges to nowhere much, her agenda would probably be too right wing even for me.

Bear in mind that a hundred years ago I would have probably been a Republican. I’m pro-life — I despise abortion, but also execution and euthanasia — I hate big government, and I believe that history bears out the free market as the best solution for quite a few problems. Yet in the USA, the Democratic party seems to be the one leading, from FDR on, the charge for innovative policy that actually helps people. The Republicans have become a sort of big-government, military-industrial party, completely separated from their roots while every once in a while appointing or choosing or electing a politician who harkens back to the good old days, back when neo-Conservatism wasn’t more than a loosely grouped glimmer in that back of Leo Strauss’s head.

This person is Sarah Palin. She has been chosen as a Vice Presidential candidate in a stunningly crass bit of political cunning, at once appealing the Republican base — mixed up Christians who have somehow integrated politics and religion, much to the diminishing of Christ — and making the party seem fresh and young, despite being anything of the kind.

She is the veneer on the reality of the Republican party as it stands today. It’s a party speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Sarah Palin is pro-life. This is good. Yet the Republican party has said that it wants “the debate” about abortion to continue, which is to say that they would very much like for everyone to keep talking and no-one to do much about it. She is anti-homosexual. This is good, or bad depending on what you take that term to mean. Yet the parade — pardon the pun — of gay rights marches on unabated in the United States, and the Republican party wishes nothing more than to stop that march. Yet legislating lifestyle and denying genetics is just the sort of thing one might expect from Big Government. Or Big Brother, if you’re particularly pessimistic. Sarah Palin is pro-gun, despite the avalanche of evidence that guns are harmful to society at large. Sarah Palin is pro-oil, willing to spoil the last great reserve of American wildlife to drill for it, willing to sacrifice anything at any cost to feed the American oil habit. She shows no interests in alternatives, even though drilling can only satisfy this craving for so long. Drilling for more oil a a thumb in a dam full of holes. Sarah Palin is, in the last analysis, critically lacking in knowledge about things — the Bush Doctrine being a recent example — that even I, a humble Canadian, can elucidate with almost embarrassing ease. She is not a crash-course away from being knowledgeable. She is fully unprepared to fill any bully pulpit whatsoever.

I could go on. I won’t. I have a glass of scotch calling my name. Just let me say thing: I don’t dislike her as a person, but I disagree with her politics and thing she is a crass and irresponsible choice for a VP candidate. Biden, though I don’t particularly like his style, seems a much more wise and measured choice. The sort of choice one might expect from a man who seems to be fairly wise in his own right.