recently said, "This election is not about issues." This statement certainly seems consistent with the recent Republican convention. Issues, such as the dire state of the economy, were simply not mentioned.
So what has happened? The GOP, if you are to believe its convention, is now primarily centered around religion and cultural identity. Vice-presidential candidate Governor Palin of Alaska, more than John McCain, and perhaps even more than George W. Bush, is the candidate of religion and cultural identity. Palin is said to be the future of the party. If that's true, then it's snowmobiles versus arugula from here on out.
There's a lot of similarity between Palin and Bush. Like Bush was in 2000, she's a charismatic, evangelical Christian governor with no record, and this becomes a campaign asset. The choice becomes one based on personality and cultural identity instead of the specifics of public policy.
What would a Palin presidency look like? There's a 30% percent chance McCain would not survive two terms in office. We've already seen this presidency in outline. It's the Bush administration. From what we can piece together from Palin's record, she and President Bush share three main traits: 1) an authoritarian impulse that leads to the abuse of executive power, 2) weak impulses for fiscal restraint and 3) absolute certainty in a simple, black-and-white world view.
In the case of Bush this has led to catastrophic leadership in foreign relations, fiscal irresponsibility on a criminal scale and serious erosion of the U.S. Constitution. For starters.
What would a Palin presidency look like? I'm terrified even to think. It's clear that she
- Wants creationism to be taught as a science in schools
- Wants no factual sex education taught in schools
- Thinks banning controversial library books is a good practice
- Doesn't think global warming is caused by humans
- Wants to make abortion illegal in all cases from the moment of conception, including cases of rape or incest
- Is hostile to all forms of gay rights. Her position mirrors that of the Republican platform, namely no to military service in any capacity (including non-combat jobs such as translators and researchers); no to hate crime legislation; no to anti-discrimination protection in employment and housing; no recognition of domestic partnerships in any form; no possibility of adoption rights by gays; no possibility of foster parenting by gay people.
To quote Andrew Sullivan:
[The Bush/Rove Republicans] can do anything and defend it - invade a country on false pretenses, grind the military into extreme danger, trash the Geneva Conventions, expand government at a record pace, threaten war with Iran and Russia - and still say with a straight face that they are the party of national security, fiscal restraint, foreign policy wisdom and military pride. It doesn't matter what they do; these people believe in this cause because it is about God and America and their own identity. And when you have a major political party constructed like that, they can do anything. And they have.
I'm sure conservatism will one day recover - because it is right about the main issues: government needs to be kept in its place, taxes should be low and budgets balanced, individuals should be able to pursue their dreams as free of government control as possible, families do matter and need to be free from government interference, free markets and enterprise are the only guarantees of prosperity, moral choices - and their consequences - should be faced by the individual responsibly, and we have to be strong in our defense and prudent in foreign policy. This is the conservatism I still believe in.... But it will only come from the ashes of this fundamentalist, mean-spirited, parochial, arrogant, big-spending, irresponsible shambles of a party. We have to repudiate the party of Rove and Abramoff and Romney and Dobson and Cheney and Bush II.
Burn it down and start over.
Palin is dangerous and unqualified to assume the presidency. McCain's choice of VP may have been politically expedient but it was also reckless and has not put "country first." In fact, it has made the McCain/Palin ticket the risky vote.