The Sarah Palin difference

Campaign 2008

Within minutes of John McCain announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate, sexism and vitriol surfaced. Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, noting the major difference between him and Palin, concluded that "she's good looking." Liberal commentator Alan Colmes suggested that Palin was reckless because of the birthing timeline of her last child, asking, "Did Palin take proper prenatal care?" Gender politics aside, it seems that many critics have forgotten that Palin is a vice presidential candidate, not candidate for vice dictator.

Critics are also chanting that Palin is "no Hillary Clinton!" That's exactly right. Barack Obama left her serving in the senate. He didn't think she was qualified, either. Unlike Clinton, Palin has a reputation for fighting corruption in her own party.

So why might Americans be excited about Palin? For starters, she is a person of character and integrity, has a commitment to justice and human life, has high moral values and virtue, and has proven skills at learning what is needed to fill whatever roles she takes on. Plus, what does it say about a woman who chooses to give birth to a child with disabilities even though many Americans would have had the baby exterminated? And what does it say about a mother who encourages her unwed daughter to keep her baby instead of exterminating it?

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Can she work well in a bipartisan context, even when it means challenging her own party members? Her 80 percent approval rating in Alaska as a reformer and her bipartisan success in state government speak for themselves.

Perhaps critics worry so much about Palin because they have a different view of the role of president and vice president altogether. Instead of viewing presidents as leaders of a government who serve as a surrogate decision-maker for the masses, many on the left see the president as a kind of messianic figure who can simply speak things into existence. Listening to Obama's acceptance speech, one got the impression that he must think of himself either as a wizard or a despot.

It seems that many critics misunderstand that America was founded on federalism. The "one heartbeat away" scare tactic masks the fact that presidential powers are checked and balanced by two other branches of government, and that presidents must depend on members in all three branches to make important decisions. Even "School House Rock" reminds us that our government is a "Three-Ring Circus." Obama seems to want a one-ring government-the "I" ring.

Were Americans not alarmed by of all the jobs "he" plans to "create," his using government coercion to stop companies from creating employment opportunities in developing countries, and his promising to give money to the auto industry to make new cars and then give money to Americans to buy them? "I'll invest 150 billion dollars [in new energy sources]," Obama said. Where does Obama expect to unilaterally get the money for this?

Does Palin have what it takes to serve in the role of vice president in our government? Voters will make that decision in a few months, in part based on how well Republicans persuade them that the answer is "yes" during their convention this week.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of religious studies at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of The Political Economy of Liberation and Black and Tired. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.


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