What a difference one speech can make. I think everyone all around agrees that Sarah Palin’s speech was a resounding success- McCain couldn’t have looked more pleased, and with good reason. It is obvious that Sarah Palin energizes and humanizes McCain. that is the best any candidate could hope for.. a running mate that lights up the stage, but spotlights their own best profile.
Did she do what the McCain’s election supporters hoped? She took a big step in that direction. Before I tell you how I look at it, I want to tell you the effect it had on my husband. He is more representative of a large group of people in this country, reflecting a specific conservative, populist demographic. The ones that many of the conservative bloggers appeal to, the ones that listen to Rush Limbaugh, the “everyman” that Sarah Palin invoked in her speech. For him, in his words, he’s “voting Palin”. That is right… the whole idea of voting for an Independent, or protest vote pivoted sharply in favor of the McCain-Palin ticket last night. What the news journalists (and I listened quite a bit to what CBS and my local PBS station had to say ( interviews with Tavis Smiley‘s guests, Charlie Rose‘s, plus the PBS news reports segments), what they are calling the “base” of the Republican party, those that my husband well represents, are won over to the fold. At least in an early sympathy.
But what last night has shown, to me at least, is that this is going to be one tough, tooth and nail campaign. In feeling I’d compare it to the Nixon/McGovern race of the past. I think that is true for a couple reasons. First, because it involves the dreams, invested dreams, of large numbers of people. The idea of breaking through the race barrier, and now of breaking though the gender glass ceiling, is a powerful impetus that is going to make it a high stakes election. And second, because both times involve an unpopular, debated war and its policies.
It has been high stakes for other reasons: judicial appointments, but that is all but forgotten in the electrical zaps of ideological dreams.
So my husband at this point is solidly in the Republican camp, at least right now. There are some choppy waters and unknown shoals yet ahead. Me? I’m a bit more of an iconoclast. Mavericks and such don’t easily “hang together”. They have to come to a place where their ideals and convictions engage. When I listened to Sarah Palin’s speech, the first part was very inspiring… she was saying things well, and her speaking ability was powerful. She and Obama both are very gifted in that ability. But as the speech went on I felt there were parts that would be picked up by Dems and would come back to haunt her… and the campaign. I suppose that is going to be inevitable, that is what happens when a campaign appeals to people in areas they feel very passionate about as this election does.
I did see McCain more favorably through his interaction and response to his running mate and what she represents. I do think, as many news analysts said, that Palin has a harmony with the characteristics of McCain. so I changed my mind on the idea that she might have been chosen just because she is a woman. I now think the choice had more levels than that alone.
I still have reservations about the “Supermom” aspect. There is also a priority position now given to our definition and discussion of “sexism”. I heard the issue raised quite a bit, and in ways that made me feel that, … even for those strongly involved in the issues of gender and fairness, etc. there is a whole new sensitivity that raises more than the usual debate. Race may be something taking a back seat, and gender debate may well be at the forefront of this election’s debate. At least, it seems that way to me at this point in time.
I tend to vote on issues more than on personality. I tend to aim for voting on what I see as the general good for the country, rather than my own personal moral views. ie I am morally against war for the most part( more complex than this post’s discussion merits- it would just digress)… so I was likely to vote for McCain anyway. Obama just held too many social issue views and opinions on how government runs (read that as the problems I have with the whole Democrat platform and agenda). As a person, I like him. I like his wife. I like the idealism. But the pragmatist in me wins, in politics. And I have been firmly conservative since the mid-seventies.
The one issue that will swing me is that I am pro-life. That will be a deal breaker for me… and the McCain-Palin ticket has the goods on that one. Margaret Thatcher showed me that a woman can lead well, and I think Sarah Palin is up for the job, but my reservations are with her time in life, not her gender. but as I am a bit of a Maverick myself, I’m willing to risk my reservations.
The Republicans have forged a formidable ticket, this time, I believe. The Democrats won’t have it as easily in their pocket as four years of deliberate invective against President Bush might have forecast.
Everyone agrees: this will be one interesting election campaign. And as bloggers are prone to say…. “Time to pop more popcorn!”