Ms. JD

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Named as McCain’s Running Mate

[Ed. Note: Ms. JD will be featuring the biographies of some of the professional women who have figured prominently in this year's presidential election.  Some are Democrats, some are Republicans; some are lawyers, some are not; all have dealt with work-life balance issues throughout their careers.  Note that this series is not exhaustive - we encourage Ms. JD bloggers to post about other women who they feel belong in this series.] 

This past week, presumptive presidential nominee John McCain named Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2008 election.  While not an attorney, Governor Palin provides a good example of how women can seek work-life balance in their lives. 

Prior to taking office as governor of Alaska, Palin served two terms as the mayor/manager of Wasilla, Alaska.  Palin has also served as the chair of the Alaska Conservation Commission and as the president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

Governor Palin is also the mother of five children and is active in their academic and extra-curricular pursuits.  Governor Palin's ability to balance her work and her private life serves as a good example of how women can, indeed, have it all.



I don’t see Ms. Palin as some shining example of how women can have it all.  I am not being judgmental about her decision to accept the VP nomination when she has a special needs infant and pregnant teenager.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and she has every right to take it.  But there’s no way that choice isn’t going to require major sacrifices by everyone in that family.  So I am quite certain Mrs. Palin is not going to be "having it all" for some time.  She’ll be on the campaign trail for the next two months.  She won’t be attending soccer games and PTA meetings.  
I actually think it does more harm than good to push the myth of having it all.  We should be talking about more realistic goals - like achieving a balance between our career achievements and the demands of family life. 


Although I have not made a decision on which party ticket I will vote for in November, I am appalled by how cynical others have been on McCain’s choice to choose a young women (whom I believe is qualified) as his running mate. Yes, she has five children. SO WHAT! McCain has seven children. Palin also has a husband, that I am sure is used to performing his portion of the parenting responsibilties. The woman has already been the governor of Alaska.
I also think the largest problem with society is that women don’t support other women in their attempt to have it all. We all claim to want work-life balance, but we don’t support others who put their career first. Palin, whether you like her or not, is a role model to young females. As a young attorney that wants a family, I am even inspired by her accomplishments. We should praise her for her choice to run with John McCain. She, like Hillary Clinton, are helping shatter that glass ceiling that I often think was created by other women who are so unsupportive of a woman choosing to put her career near the top of her priority list.
Last, I want to note that I am THRILLED to see that Palin is so beautiful. She is feminine and professional. She dresses like a woman rather than a man. She has long hair. She is a role model to women everywhere, regardless of whether you like her politics.  


While I would normally be thrilled by a woman running for President or Vice President, I will not be supporting the McCain Palin ticket.  She doesn’t support equal pay for equal work or bodily autonomy for women.  She brings nothing new to the table in terms of issues that are important to me—health care, renewable energy, and bringing jobs back to the U.S. (Anyone else having problems finding one?)  Plus, they are running an extremely dishonest campaign, and that’s not the kind of people I want in office, been there done that (weapons of mass destruction).  As much as I support women having it all, I will not vote for someone just because she is a woman, because to me, that’s still sexism. 


The comments posted here create an interesting contrast.  First, there’s a post about McCain’s decision to turn his back on his disabled wife in favor of a rich, young blond.  True, that was a personal decision that he made about how to conduct his family life, but I think it says at least a little about his character, at least at that time in his life.  Some people probably don’t care about that, but his first three kids might.  Then there’s the anonymous post arguing that people shouldn’t even trouble themselves with thinking about the fact that Palin’s husband doesn’t have a college degree and they have one son going off to war without getting a college education first and one daughter who is now pregnant before getting her high school diploma.  The Palins also have a brand new baby with special needs, all at the time that this relatively young woman decides it’s time to go into national politics during the last two months of a wrenching campaign after serving as governor for less than two years.  But we aren’t supposed to consider these facts about a person that we know virtually nothing about, because to do so would be SEXIST?  Might they tell us something about her character and her priorities?  I don’t know, but I think they might and I’m glad I know these things.  The same poster, however, apparently needs only to see a picture of Palin to decide whether she’ll vote for her.  Anonymous is comforted by the fact that Palin has - not a background in international relations, or any experience balancing a budget (Alaska is flush with oil money right now) or anything else particularly helpful at this point in American history.  Instead, Anonymous is thrilled that Palin "dresses like a woman rather than a man" and "has long hair."  Yes, such things are truly critical and we should all take such a gender-neutral vantage lest our government be overrun by intelligent women wearing their pants long and their hair short.  For my part, how Palin chooses to conduct her life and manage her responsibilities tells me much more about her than whether she looks like a girl, whatever that means.


I can’t support a woman who likes to censor and cut funding for libraries and museums, and who fires people simply because they don’t agree with her politics.  It is dangerous to blithely surround yourself with sycophants and yes-men, ignoring those who might validly challenge your own thinking or stimulate positive discussion on issues.
I love my city library and saw my first Picasso and Monet this summer thanks to a great art museum.  Once law school debt is gone, both will be on my list of institutions to support.

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