RUFUS G.W. SANDERS, Register columnist
What the Republican Party and the John McCain campaign are doing to Sarah Palin is not only political suicide, but the height of misogyny and male chauvinism. Talk about sexism; there is nothing more sexist than the way she is being handled by a bunch of arrogant alpha-male Republicans whose only concern is to retain the presidency. These people have always adhered to a fundamentalism that assigns women to specific societal functions, even though they rarely follow the teachings of fundamentalism themselves.
For them woman are pawns in a theocratic state, where their identity is reduced to sexual attributes, and they are assigned to castes based on their physical attractiveness and usefulness. Woman who allow themselves to fall prey to this are complicit with these men in not only subjugating themselves, but by their actions convince other woman they are powerless and can only contribute to the common good of society by total obedience and submission. They are unaware that they become captives, even traitors to womanhood n what becomes one of the most repressive social orders of any patriarchal society. It is a form of political slavery.
Sarah Palin is being treated by the McCain campaign as if she is working the night shift for the oldest profession known to man. She is being used for her beauty and her religious worldview, which fits into the present Republican paradigm of social order. She is against abortion with few exceptions, against complete civil rights for all citizens, against universal health care; against the general idea of human participation in global warming and environmental protection, against scientific research and against multilateral diplomacy just for starters.
Her choice to have a Down syndrome child and her unmarried teenage daughter's choice to continue her pregnancy have driven the right wing branch of the Republican Party into euphoria. I am not criticiizing her for her decisions here; they are personal and I respect them. I am only saying it is a pity she is being used because her policy views fit into the agenda of the powerful radical, right-wing fundamentalists who have played a major role in Republican politics since at least the 1980s.
Sarah Palin is being used, abused and humiliated by men who don't give a hoot about her qualifications or lack thereof. They couldn't care less that her performance thus far has been abysmal. She was picked solely because of her social views, which are being called scary now even by some conservatives, and because she is a female. Its almost as if Sen. Biden was the only one at vice-presidential debate. I heard originally McCain was leaning toward Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania, or Sen. Joe Lieberman. Both men would have been better candidates, but both were disqualified by the inner circle of McCain advisers because Ridge is pro-choice and Lieberman is not only Jewish but a newly self-identified independent with the views of a moderate Democrat.
McCain has confirmed by his actions he has no confidence in an unscripted Palin. The mere fact that she has been kept on a very short leash by the Republican campaign speaks volumes about the faith which the Republican Party has placed in her. She has been sequestered from the media and literally held prisoner by the McCain campaign, and being controlled by males who feel they are superior to her. She has been treated like she was the good china brought out to be seen on special occasions but never really used. While they would want us to believe that she is the epitome of the working American -- hockey mom who has it all, a career and a family -- the sad truth is she really epitomizes how far woman still have to go in this male-dominated society. To pretend the Palin selection was anything other than an attempt by the McCain campaign to win the election based on political opportunity would be to deny the exploitation of sexual roles still exists.
If her selection signals American women are now empowered, then I employ McCain to free her. Let her speak. Allow her to be herself. But he can't, because she is downright unpredictable. She is totally unprepared and unexpectedly weak. She is valued only because she is a woman; and that itself is outright sexism.
Sen. McCain would be a terrible president because he chose a woman who would make an even more terrible vice-president.