Sarah Wildman raises an excellent set of question in her opinion piece in the Guardian today.
Part of the problem is that Palin isn’t being marketed as, nor is she expected to be, a politician. That’s all well and good for PTA president, or mayor, or maybe even governor in a state without a huge number of people. But when we’re talking about the highest executive office, there needs to be a few criteria in place beyond relateability.
Ironically, though, even on that, Palin falls down. She pretends to be a representative of the American everywoman … Yet outside of talk of theoretical football match side conversations, she had nary an argument about what these women actually need or want… what Palin’s folksiness exposes is not so much her “real” American self, as her inability to see beyond her own experience.
Sarah Palin does not represent me nor any woman I know. I was never a hockey mom (band, theater and football here). And when I was freezing my ass up in the bleachers every Friday night my self-definition extended far beyond that experience.
From what I can remember about those times, even the women sharing them with me in our small town could not be well fitted into a box labelled “alot like Sarah Palin.” Some were newly divorced mothers, struggling with custody laws, trying to carve out a new life path for themselves. Some were working women, some were stay-at-home mothers, some ran small businesses to be home for the kids, each with their own unique perspective. A few weren’t mothers at all but grandmothers raising kids partially orphaned by economic realities.
Our issues would have run the gamut from the need for affordable accessible reliable childcare, to better laws to support women leaving abusive partners, to equal pay for equal work. And our issues would have extended beyond the gender specific to the environment, the conduct of the war threatening to take our sons and daughters, the safety of our food and water, the rising cost of everything, the struggle to find stable work that paid a living wage. For some of us the pressing concern would be how to obtain or maintain healthcare insurance with a child’s preexisting condition — or how to work, raise kids and care for a parent with dementia — or how to get training for a new career while trying to save for our children’s college education.
For five weeks now I haven’t heard Sarah Palin say one word that indicates to me she either represents me or understands me. As a military mother, I want to hear alot more about veterans’ healthcare and psychological services and could care less about who waves a white flag at what. As a home owner I want to hear about programs that will keep me in my home of 19 years if I lose my job to this shit economy.
As I listen to Sarah Palin folksy dookie hockey mom routine as she travels from one GOP friendly venue to another — what does she know or care about the struggles of inner city mothers with failing schools, no place to buy groceries and the only jobs four bus transfers away? Does she care? Does she have the courage to face and understand those women? Does she intend to serve as their vice-president too?
Does Sarah Palin represent the undocumented mother who risks being seperated from her family and children? The recent Georgetown grad buried in student loans? The Flint woman struggling to keep diapers on her disabled adult child through an ongoing war with Medicaid? The 70 year old greeter in Kmarts working to cover her husband’s trip through the Medicaid donut hole?
Sarah Palin’s “real” American woman routine is about as authentic a representation of American life as Doris Day’s portrayal of Annie Oakley. She is a cartoon of convienience, her experiences one tiny sliver of the life of American women. She as much represents me and the women I know as does Joe Biden, Barack Obama or Yogi the Bear.
When Sarah Palin show any shred of “getting it” — dares to visit women outside of GOP rallies and pre-screened “town halls” — dares to visit women in Flint or New Orleans, in homeless and battered women shelters — when she stops attempting to divide us up into “Eastern elites” and “everyone else just like her” — when she starts talking sincerely about the damages of teen pregnancy, botched illegal abortions and domestic violence — when she steps outside of her Wasilla bubble and actually attempts to connect to anyone other than women who fawn over her and share her extremist religious ideology — THEN she can dare to suggest she can relate to anyone but herself.