Note: Originally posted on September 1, 2008 to the "Black in America" Social Network (www.blackinamerica.com).
On Monday, September 1st, I received word that Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old daughter of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is five-months pregnant. To say that this news caught me off guard would be an understatement. How much more drama can John McCain's bid for the American presidency withstand? But when I learned that McCain knew about the younger Palin's condition but still choose the elder Palin over more qualified Republican candidates, I questioned his judgement.
Truth be told, I think John McCain went into panic mode when the Democratic National Convention (DNC) finally concluded on August 28th. Illinois Senator Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination for the American presidency, bringing Joe Biden along as his running mate. But who can blame McCain for his erratic behavior. On the final night of the DNC, Obama delivered a speech that is being hailed as one of the all-time best political speeches. Obama also laid out the specifics of his plan to change America.
But John McCain should have never selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. He should have seen the writing on the wall, that this family is not in a position to help him at this time. If anything, the members of the Palin family need to get in touch with each other, help young Bristol Palin deal with the consequences of her decision to have unprotected sex with a male peer.
And that is why John McCain's actions pale in comparision to Governor Palin's. Knowing what she knows about her daughter, Governor Palin should have rejected McCain's offer. But she didn't. Consequently, something that should have remained a private family matter is now being discussed openly on the Internet and in the broadcast media. And her decision to accept McCain's offer is a clear indication that her thinking on family values is somewhat warped.
Bristol Palin and a boy known only as Levi say they will marry, be responsible parents to their unborn child. That's great if it happens. But can you imagine the strain that this additional media exposure is going to place on their relationship? It is going to confuse the issue, make these youngsters think they're sticking it out for the love that they may have for each other, when, in reality, they're sticking it out to protect Governor Palin's interests and reputation. If I were the main character in this story, I would develop a growing resentment toward my parents, who have essentially choosen political glory over family well-being.
Responsible parenting is supposed to be esteemed by social conservatives. Sexual purity (i.e. abstinence) over sexual promiscuity, right? But for reasons I can't explain, every social conservative that has been interviewed by the political pundits on the Cable News Network (CNN) and other news channels has defended McCain's assertion that he made a wise choice. These social conservatives, all Republicans, are so committed to maintaining the integrity of the Republican ticket that they ignore what the Republican ticket is promoting: the conception and birth of children out of wedlock.
Additionally, the Republicans are reinforcing the idea that it's okay to forget about your children's needs when bigger career-making prizes are in sight. Bristol Palin is going to need more of her mother's attention as she gets closer to her due date. She will also need her father's attention. But Sarah Palin will be in another state, on the campaign trail, trying to convince Americans that she is the most qualified person for the VP spot.
Country First? Please! There is no country when American parents like the Palins are so dismissive of their roles.
These Republicans want us, the American public, to stop talking about the circumstances leading up to Bristol Palin's pregnancy. But how can we not talk about it, especially when we knew nothing about Sarah Palin before McCain selected her? This woman is running for one of the highest offices in the land; consequently, her life, and the lives of her significant others, will always be an open book to us.
But even after reading this open book, I wonder how many Americans will still be bamboozled into voting for the McCain/Palin ticket. The verdict is still out on that one. But no matter how qualfied Sarah Palin may be, it is becoming increasingly evident that John McCain didn't use his best judgement when deciding to make her his running mate. Truth be told, his choice was a brazen attempt to win over the 18 million Hillary Clinton supporters. But let's be real: Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. Moreover, she undoubtedly isn't the only Republican reformist.
McCain is playing the American public for fools. He is using the Palin family as pawns to take some of the bark out of Barack Obama's campaign. He is doing this to divert attention away from the real issues, which he seemingly does not understand.
What do you think? Do you think Governor Sarah Palin should step down as John McCain's VP choice?
I look forward to reading your responses.
Jeffery A. Faulkerson, MSSW
Host, "FIRM...but fair" with Jeffery A. Faulkerson