What Progressives Can Learn From Sarah Palin
Anna Holmes and Rebecca Traister make the case in today’s New York Times that progressives should be as outraged at their own failings as they are at Sarah Palin’s ascension.
Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms. Palin, they have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics.
They make an excellent case that without progressive policies, Palin might still be a housewife in Wasilla.
…her political career was a natural outgrowth of feminist successes. As a teen, she played basketball thanks to Title IX; as an adult, she enjoyed a professional life made possible by the involvement of her load-bearing husband Todd, entering Alaska’s governor’s mansion at 42 with four children in tow and giving birth to a fifth while there.
While rhapsodizing about “mama grizzlies” while, at the same time, referring to feminists as “a cackle of rads,” she besmirches the very movement that enables her. And how progressive are these “mama grizzlies”?
…from their opposition to reproductive rights to their work against health care reform and labor policies that would empower American women, their ideas are just antiquated clichés dressed up in designer suits. Like Ms. Palin herself, their talk about being “mama bears” and “tough as an ox … wearing lipstick” simply reduces female candidates’ political prospects to maternal worth and sex appeal.
Holmes and Treister make the case that the left hasn’t done as good a job as they should touting our own feminist credentials. They conclude:
…we wonder if Democrats shouldn’t look to her for twisted inspiration, and recognize that the future of women in politics will be about coming to terms with (and inventing) new models.
Imagine a Democrat willing to brag about breaking the glass ceiling at the explosive beginning, not the safe end, of her campaign. A liberal politician taking to Twitter to argue that big broods and a “culture of life” are completely compatible with reproductive freedom. A female candidate on the left who speaks as angrily and forcefully about her rivals’ shortcomings as Sarah Barracuda does about the Pelosis and Obamas of the world. A smart, unrelenting female, who, unlike Ms. Palin, wants to tear down, not reinforce, traditional ways of looking at women. But that will require a party that is eager to discover, groom, promote and then cheer on such a progressive Palin.
If Sarah Palin and her acolytes successfully redefine what it means to be a groundbreaking political woman, it will be because progressives let it happen — and in doing so, ensured that when it comes to making history, there will be no one but Mama Grizzlies to do the job.Click here for reuse options!
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