I am stunned by the number of seemingly-rational people who want to vote for Sarah Palin “because she’s a woman.” It’s about time, they say. It’ll be exciting, they say.
These people need a course in how democracy is supposed to work.
Take Iraq. Elections there are meaningless because tribal and ethnic loyalty outranks any other consideration. Given the chance to vote, Sunnis “vote” for the Sunni candidate, Shias “vote” for the Shia candidate, and so on. It’s the same in the regressive parts of the Balkans: Ethnic Albanians voting for ethnic Albanians, ethnic Serbs voting for ethnic Serbs, etc.. No consideration of candidates’ strengths or what they stand for. In such societies you don’t need an election, just a census.
The second Sarah Palin takes office, she won’t be a “woman”—she’ll be an ideology, whether it’s pro-war, anti-choice, anti-glacier, or anti-moose. She’ll be a philosophy. She’ll be beholden to her major donors. It won’t matter if she’s a woman, a man, or some other gender.
People who imagine she’ll be loyal to some concept of gender are misguided fools. There is no consensus among American women about what they want from a President, anyway. Whether it’s about abortion, education, or the right to nurse in public, American women are divided. There is no “women’s issue” on which a “woman” president can confidently depend.
The only good reason to vote for Palin is agreement with her ideas about running the country—you know, start a few holy wars, drill for more oil, and wait for the Rapture to announce who won. Voting for her because “it’s about time” a woman had a chance is like driving your car off a cliff because “it’s about time” you had some excitement.
Of course, there were plenty of people who wanted Hillary Clinton for president because she’s a woman. This was equally foolish. Clinton is no more a “woman” than Palin—her presidency would also be driven by ideology rather than ovaries, albeit a different ideology. And just as Palin’s nomination should get no cheers from people interested in peace, justice, or civil rights, Clinton’s almost-nomination shouldn’t have pleased conservatives who happen to be women.
America is in bad enough shape without using the tribal allegiances of a Kosovo, a Rwanda, Macedonia, or South Ossetia to choose our leaders. I don’t care if the finger on the nuclear button sports nail polish or calluses; I want the finger attached to someone who will defend the Constitution rather than shred it.
People who vote for a candidate’s gender, race, or ethnicity don’t understand democracy. Maybe the reason America hasn’t been able to export democracy is because we don’t have nearly enough of our own.