Sarah Palin resigns (awkwardly).
Oh Sarah, I can hardly believe it’s only been a year since you’ve popped up. I feel like I’ve been looking at the tv and saying “WHAT THE FUCK.” for so much longer than that. It’s almost a shame to see you go, as you’ve provided so many moments of comedic pleasure.
Except. I don’t think you’re going anywhere. I think you’ve figured out that the actual governing isn’t the fun part of these elected official jobs. I think you just cleared your schedule to spend the next 18 months continuing to be the GOP’s top fundraiser. I think your book deal just went into astronomical figures, and you’re going to have all the time in the world now to go on book tour. When you talked about making change for the country outside elected office, it crossed my mind that you might decide to take on Michael Steele. Actually, that’s one thing I can get behind. Sure, you’ll make the base rabid in their support. But I can’t think of anything that would make the moderates flee faster than if they saw you as the captain on their sinking ship. I mean, hell, you can’t even finish out one term as governor, right? Who thinks you’ll hang around to bail out water? Just like Sanford, you realized that having to actually BE THERE, in the state where they voted for you was majorly hindering your social life. I don’t mean to sound flip, Sarah, but isn’t touring the country to packed houses calling your name so much more fun than ethics investigations? The Republican party (some of the more thoughtful ones anyway) may be scared of you and the direction you’re taking things, but they love your ability to bring out the wallets. You are their nuclear weapon. They enjoy the power, but they had no idea what they were bringing into the world. Now we’ll see if they can keep it roped in, or if you’re too maverick-y.
And oh yeah, those ethics investigations. I think that they’re going to find some stuff on you, Sarah. I mean more than they’ve already found. More than the housing allowance for staying in your own place, more that the firing of police officers who did your family wrong, more than the sketchy emails and Todd’s desire to
succeed secede. You’re sharp as a tack. You said that some people would question the timing of your resignation. OK! You got me! I’m questioning it! You ran the governor’s mansion like your own little kingdom, and that’s not what being in charge means in a democracy. It means you work for us. You’re spending our money, and that shouldn’t make it easier for you to impose your will. It should make you think twice about it.
When I said you were funny, I meant it! At least at first. Until I realized how seriously some people take you, including you. Sure, I think you’re the reason McCain lost the election. One of many. But I also think you’re part of the reason that supporters felt ok airing their most racist, classist, and fundamentalist opinions, in sometimes terrifyingly violent ways. I think it was always obvious that McCain, to his credit, was incredibly uncomfortable with that way of playing politics. But not you, god love ya. I would bet the farm we will be hearing from you for a long time. You got the bug and there’s no cure for it.
I would love to believe that you’re really going to be home with your kids and family. If your meteoric rise left me so off kilter, I can only assume it’s done the same to your family. I hate the sexist implications that you should be home because you’re a mom with young kids. I don’t feel that way about Obama or any of his staffers who have trouble with the work/life family balance, so I can’t ask the same of you. I thank them and their family for their sacrifice. However, I can’t picture this being a good thing for your kids. You’ve dragged them into the spotlight and made them political pawns, with Bristol being the most obvious example. But you love to invoke the name Track Palin as to why you’re an expert on the military and what we should be doing during this war. You used Willow recently in an all out battle with Letterman by implying he was basically a pedophile for making jokes about a young girl, when it’s abundantly clear that’s not the case. Inappropriate, yes. Definitely. Salacious towards young girls? No. And Trig. There should be more Trigs in the country, right? Then why have you cut funding for single mothers looking for ways to take care of their developmentally disabled children? Shouldn’t they be able to learn as much from their kids as you claim to learn from yours?
And Sarah, don’t even get me started on feminism. Conservatives love to say that feminism is dead because we only advance a liberal argument and we won’t make room in our tent for people of conflicting views. It’s not true, and the people who believe so are trotting out tired media stereotypes of feminists to advance their positions. Feminism is a conflicted ideology, as are all identity politics. But the one part that’s not up for discussion is that feminists believe in the same rights for all women, and for those rights to be equal to men. Because we’re human, we make mistakes and we don’t always hold ourselves up to the ideals we set. But one thing I have utter contempt for is women who want to use what feminism has given them to turn around and bash it. It’s funny that the new trend is for conservative women to call themselves feminists and use “choice” as a mantra for why they choose to believe that women don’t need certain rights while a lot of liberal women are afraid to use the word because the right has posted them as shrill harpy feminazis for so many years. I’ll claim it though; I’m a feminist. I don’t get to decide who’s in the club, and I will completely condemn the sexist things that are said about you, even though I can’t fucking stand you. Ideals get tested when you have to apply them to people who are unsympathetic. What I can’t stand by and watch, though, is when people want to have it both ways. You can’t sex up your image to appeal to people’s ids and then get mad that people want to pay more attention to your looks. I don’t believe that people should get blamed for the way they dress and for being sexy in fact, I think that contributes to a victim blaming rape culture. But what I do think is that women, and men, shouldn’t use their sexuality to get ahead in professional games. They should prove that they’re the best because of their intellect, or their skill. I think the world should be a place where that’s possible, even though I know it’s not always like that. And I hate to hear you cry sexist when I never heard you decry the treatment of Hillary until after she was safely out of the running for President. Let’s give credit where it’s due, right? Without Hillary, you never would’ve been picked. You were a cynical move on the part of the right to play to a group who was feeling disenfranchised. It didn’t work because it was so cynical. This past election started out refreshing, because women were finally taken into account. Women, even as a majority, have been the ultimate minority in every country of the world since time began, and it was great to the parties take that into account, and they’re continuing to take it into account now. Ultimately, it wasn’t fruitful as far as getting a female in elected office, but it moved the discussion forward and that’s something. But I feel that’s much more due to Hillary taking the potshots and the vitriol and hatred and coming out of it stronger than ever (and let’s give it up for her being an AWESOME Secretary of State). It’s not because you talked about how great a mother you are constantly. She survived because she had the goods to back it up, as all political contenders on a national stage should should. They should have fully developed, complex, and thoughtful opinions and solutions. Sarah, that’s not you by a long shot. There have been many more wonderful pieces written on Palin and feminism this past year, so I’ll stop there.
So while I’d like to say that this is goodbye, and thank you for leaving the stage, I know that’s not what’s happening. I can’t say I look forward to your continued presence, but it will make for a nice break for the next couple of months or weeks (if that long?) while you regroup.
Angst for the memories, Sarah.