Small Politics

So if I promise not to turn this into a mostly political blog, will folks bear with me and not mind too much if I talk politics now and again? Because this weekend has just been an absolutely, well I am not really sure of the best word for it, let's call it interesting, time for politics. I promise that I will continue to have plenty of posts on homeschooling and right-brained learning and all the other general musings that I do, but fair warning, you will probably find a few liberal political posts thrown in now and again.

I will say that I am really disappointed that our political discourse has once again devolved into "small politics." Yes, I understand the frustration at the hypocrisy of some Republicans (can you imagine the reaction if it were the Obama's teenage daughter who was pregnant?) and I can see how satisfying it would be to go on the attack, but coming down to that level is NOT the way to win. Playing by the same old rules is not the way to get the change that we separately need in politics. Dirty politics is dirty politics no matter who is doing it and only winds up shutting down any chance of discussion.

I also have to question the amount of scrutiny and judgment that is surrounding Sarah Palin's personal decisions such as to run for VP with an infant (would this have come up if it was her husband who was running?) and the circumstances surrounding the delivery of her son. In the latter case I am inclined to trust that Palin would not willingly risk injury to her child (say what you will about her political views but she is a mother and I can not believe that she would not care about her child) and made the right decision for her. It is not my place to judge her for that, especially given the fact that all we know is what is reported in the media, which rarely, if ever, gives you the whole story. I certainly would not want some of my personal decisions judged by strangers who only have a cursory idea of the facts. The truth is that we do not know the whole story and to be honest with you I don't think that we need to.

Obama said that we should move beyond making "a big election about small things" and I have read a lot of prevailing wisdom that if Democrats make the election about the issues we win. If we get sidetracked into these type of moral debate issues (which we will not and can not win, because they are un-winnable), we only look small.

Yes, talk about the broad issues. But keep out the personal judgments and condemnations. Using Bristol's pregnancy to condemn Sarah and her husband for their parenting skills or as some sort of "proof" that one political viewpoint is better than the other is an un-winnable argument and only distracts from the real issues at hand. Besides, I am sure that there are pregnant teenagers with liberal parents and as much as I am doing my best as a parent I can not guarantee that my kids will never do anything stupid.

Luckily there are some folks who get it:

Obama had this to say:

“Let me be as clear as possible,” said Obama, “I think people’s families are off-limits and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as governor, or her potential performance as a vice president.”

Obama said reporters should “back off these kinds of stories” and noted that he was born to an 18 year-old mother.

“How a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that’s off-limits.”

From Political Animal: Sarah Palin's Children

As far as I'm concerned, it's fair game to consider Sarah Palin's statements about her daughter's decision, and to compare them to her own views about abortion. That's a story about whether or not Sarah Palin sticks to her beliefs when they affect her own family, not about her daughter. But it is not fair game to use her daughter, or any of her kids, as pawns in a political argument. To my mind, this extends to using her daughter as evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't work: presumably, no one thinks that it works 100% of the time, and that's the only claim to which this one counterexample could possibly be relevant. (That's why God created large-scale studies.) Likewise, I think that arguing about whether Sarah Palin is a good mother is out of line: we have no idea at all what arrangements she and her husband have made for child care, how their relationship works, and so forth. Assuming that Sarah Palin would have to be her children's primary caregiver is just sexist.

 The Personal Becomes Political: Bristol Palin is Pregnant, Let the Opprobrium Begin:

To make a 17-year-old girl who didn't likely choose either to be pregnant or to be some political football the new poster child for attacking her mother's policy positions doesn't leave any better a taste in my mouth this afternoon than I had this morning.

Besides, there are plenty of real issues with Sarah Palin's nomination to discuss.

PoliticsStephanie2 Comments