Wednesday, September 3, 2008

About Bristol

I am going to admit here to a rather primal, spontaneous and emotional reaction to the news that Sarah Palin would be John McCain's running mate. It's going to happen, I realized. Women are going to make it to the White House.

Since then, of course, I have learned more about Palin's politics. We're not on the same wavelength on most Hot Topics. But there's a bottom line I can't ignore, and she has earned my admiration. She's a woman. She's a mom. She's working mom. She's a working mom of five. She's a leader. She's a governor. She has run marathons (okay, and she also hunts and stuff). The point is, all politics aside, she and I share some characteristics, and it's pretty apparent she has a lot more guts, and a greater willingness to sacrifice, not to mention a much greater ability in general to Manage It All.

I had already eaten a huge helping of humble pie after reading about Michelle Rhee in Newsweek, who is my age, and in my business. Her similar profile, yet strong convictions and resolve in the face of opposition, still have me questioning just what I am willing to do, and to give, and to stand up for.

And then along comes Sarah Palin. I read about her a few months ago after she gave birth to her youngest child, a son with Down Syndrome, while governor of Alaska. I became a Vice Principal when my youngest (of two, mind you) was five months old, and that pretty much threw me for a loop. So here, I remember thinking, is someone undaunted by being a mom (of a child with disabilities, no less) as well as a leader and a public servant. She can do it. So I should really just suck it up, myself. Can we work on that? Yes, let's.

But while my hat goes off to Sarah Palin and all she's accomplished, I have to hope she's not our next Vice President. It has something to do with the fact she's the Republican running mate, something to do with her stance on abortion and Intelligent Design (to name a few issues about which we don't agree), and also something to do with her daughter Bristol.

Here is a pregnant, unmarried 17-year-old girl under intense scrutiny. I would argue that her life would be a heck of a lot better if her mom weren't Vice President. If that doesn't seem fair--that is, to argue that we shouldn't elect Palin for the sake of her daughter--I would argue that this election shouldn't be about her daughter, then. And clearly, it already is. What Bristol does with her reproductive self and unborn child as well as her marital status shouldn't be a projection of her mother and her politics, in my view. But my views and those of the Republican party aren't exactly aligned when it comes to who should weigh in on a woman and her body. The smiling nods of approval at her apparent choices to keep her pregnancy, keep her baby, and marry the child's father suggest that if she were to opt otherwise, those would be wrong choices, not to mention reflect poorly on her mother.

I don't want to be cynical here, nor do I want to insinuate that politics have already trumped highly personal prerogatives, but I certainly hope Bristol has choices. I hope the father of her baby does as well. I hope there will be no "vetting" of her every move. I hope she and her baby won't be the examples put forth when there are national discussions of reproductive rights, marriage rights, childcare, daycare, and the Unwed Teenage Mother.

I hope she, and her mother, will be treated as separate, discrete, unique, thinking women, who can make up their own minds.

As for me, mine's made up.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Just so you know...I wrote today's post before reading this one :)

BTW, can I link you? I think you have an amazing voice and I know a few of my friends would really appreciate it. Dying about the neighbors...that means mine can hear too!!