Can Sarah Palin be a Feminist?
If you’d asked me last month, I would have said Obama had this election locked up.
His campaign had all the energy, all the enthusiasm, all the media buzz and most of the press behind it.
The coolest stars in Hollywood were supporting him and a fresh new wave of Millennial voters were poised to sweep him in.
I’m not personally on the Obama bandwagon, but most of my friends are.
I felt the culture was firmly with Obama but I couldn’t tell if this was a clear observation or simply my own distorted perception, ruined by a circle of cheeky local Democrats and my (somewhat embarrassing) obsession with New York blogs.
The New York blog culture is in love with Obama, to a degree that approaches religious fanaticism. Tired of watching GenY turn their noses up and sneer at everything important in life? Be careful what you wish for.
These kids will poke fun at anything, but bloggers who have never been serious about anything are serious about Obama.
Media stars who have made their careers being “too cool for politics” are filming sincere, passionate videos in support of Barack Obama.
The trend seemed very clear to me, but I couldn’t tell if this was a genuine cultural shift or the result of me seeing the world through blue-state glasses.
And while I was pondering the reach of Obamamania, the whole game changed.
I knew McCain had deployed Palin as a game-changer, but I’m stunned by how well it worked.
Suddenly, the media machine that had been fixated on Obama (and blithely ignoring John McCain) switched to full-on Palin Hype Mode.
McCain’s choice was so dramatic, so unexpected and so immediately effective, it yanked the spotlight off Obama and turned it, if not to McCain himself, at least in the direction of his campaign.
Republicans who had been grumbling and holding their noses as they reached for the McCain lever suddenly had a new reason to turn out — a new passion and a new heroine, hitting all the right notes and pushing all the right buttons.
Suddenly a campaign that was starting to smell like Bob Dole got a giant dose of energy and enthusiasm. The media spotlight shifted, poll numbers did a 180, and my cultural radar shifted abruptly from blue to pink.
The momentum shifted so fast, I had to reconsider my position. After months of predicting an Obama victory, it looked like McCain might be able to turn this whole thing around.
It was one thing to see my Republican friends get excited, but what really convinced me was the reaction on my blue state blogs. McCain introduced Palin and the New York blogosphere went insane.
Political ideologues won’t come out and admit being scared of a candidate — that sounds too much like giving them a compliment — but you can measure how effective a candidate is by how much the opposition hates them, and how much energy they devote to tearing them down. For example, the right’s hatred of Bill Clinton actually lends him credibility in retrospect.
It’s one thing to write a post talking about how weak and unqualified Sarah Palin is, but when you write a dozen posts, a hundred posts, a thousand posts about someone, what you’re saying tends to be drowned out by how loud you’re saying it.
The left may be calling Palin shallow and unqualified, but they’re doing it so much, so stridently and with such force, it’s actually having the opposite effect.
The crazier the opposition gets, the better Palin starts to look. This strategy won’t convince anyone in New York, of course, but the more New York hates her, the more Flyover Country starts to warm up.
In 1994, I used to whine about the proliferation of tribal politics — the notion that who a candidate is, what sex and what color they are being more important than what they believe.
Now in 2008, I believe I was wrong. Race and gender slurs are being thrown around capriciously by both sides, but if you really look at it, no one is using race or sex as their primary benchmark. I should qualify, no one who matters.
The elevation of Sarah Palin has proven an old Rush Limbaugh cliche that I never wanted to believe. Feminism isn’t about being a woman anymore. My previous (naive and out-dated) view of Feminism led me to believe that seeing a strong, confident woman ascend to high office would be a victory for all women.
That’s certainly what Hillary supporters have been telling me for 10 years.
But Sarah Palin’s appointment called that bluff and revealed the truth. Feminism isn’t about being “strong” or breaking into male power structures anymore. Feminism is a distinct political position, defined, not by who you are or where you are, but by what you believe.
Feminism is pro-choice, pro-government and culturally blue. Feminism is trademarked by the Democratic Party — part of a political package that includes items that shouldn’t be “women’s issues” at all.
Can a Feminist be pro-life, pro-market, and pro-gun?
I believe the current working definition of Feminism includes the traditional Democratic views of economics, health care and gun control. The “liberal” solutions to problems are seen as being best for kids, and by extension, essential beliefs for mothers.
I understand why abortion rights would be used as a litmus test for Feminism. I understand abortion as a civil rights issue that uniquely effects women. But what about health care and gun control? I don’t want to leave that assertion hanging. I’d like to see some women come forth and contradict me.
Is it possible for a Feminist to be pro-market and pro-gun?
I’m sounding like a Republican here, but I’m really not trying to argue about what Feminism should be. I believe the meaning of labels is determined by cultural consensus. If 70 percent of Feminists believe Feminism requires gun control and support for government-run health care, that’s fine with me.
But I want to see someone come out and say it. I want someone to acknowledge that political ideology has trumped gender. And I want to assert that this, in its own twisted way, is progress.