The Red Meat on Sarah Palin and Her Speech

by on September 9th, 2008

The irony was not lost to me that only a couple of days after Palin told the press that she doesn’t believe global warming is attributed to human activities, Hurricane Gustav made landfall in New Orleans during Katrina’s three-year anniversary, forcing a mandatory evactuation. It seemed nature’s skeptical response to the GOP convention and a morbid reminder of the failed Bush presidency.

I may in fact be every conservative’s dream come true: the scared-shit liberal shaking in her boots at the thought of a Sarah Palin vice presidency or potential presidency (let’s face it, McCain is no spring chicken and their age disparity conjures up serious considerations of mortality). Of course, I understand why supposed-moderate-and-maverick John McCain picked her: to rile up the strong, conservative base of the party and to appeal to the Reagan- and blue-dog Democracts and disenchanted female voters who veered towards Clinton. And it helps that she’s pretty and good with a rifle, too: the meat-and-potatoes, I-can-shoot-and-gut-my-own-moose image sure gives an authenticy and grit to Palin that can sway even some skeptics in the party.

What scares me is the fact that the moderate public may be duped into thinking this woman represents old-fashioned American values. Sure, she’s anti-gay and anti-abortion and I am sure that appeals to many on the right. However, would that appeal really carry over to those middle-class or small town Americans if they understood the true mission of the McCain-Palin ticket and the details of Palin’s experience? Would people truly vote if they understood how they may be hurting themselves?

I grew up in the urban lower middle-class, a daughter and granddaughter of a blue-collar, union workers with strong Irish-Catholic roots. As a graduate student, I survive with my meager income through college assistance. I am sure most of the people out there are struggling like my family and I to make ends meet. We have a credit crisis, a mortage crisis, an unemployment crisis, an unprecedented national debt and deficit. And yet, Sarah Palin’s speech, for all its shocking glory, carried not even one small reference to these looming issues unless if it was in an attack on Obama’s policies.

What I learned from the Palin speech is that the belligerence of the conservative base is alive and well and full of venom. I learned that a candidate that attacks his opponent because of lack of experience can then turn around and select a VP with zero national or foreign policy experience, who is governor of the most sparsely-populated state in the nation (Chicago alone has QUADRUPLE the population of the entire state of Alaska). I learned that a candidate can attack pork spending but have a VP who requested some $27 million in earmarks while mayor of Wasilla and who has expanded refunds for AK citizens at the expense of the rest of us. I learned that the GOP convention claims empathy for the average American, but will ridicule you if you have the audacity to become a community organizer.

The GOP claims to understand us Americans from all walks of life, even though only less than 7 percent of its attendees at its convention were minorities, and men outranked women considerably; there were also not a lot of people under 30 (or even 40). As I watched the televised broadcasting of the Republican Convention, I saw a see of white: white people, mostly middle-aged or elderly, and a lot of white cowboy hats. I would like to get some estimates of the median income of the attendees, as I am sure it was probably about $500,000/yr. Not to say there is anything wrong with this, but when one espouses to understand America, a country that includes a citizenship with a wide range of diversity of color, age, class and religion, you’d think there’d be more diversity in the audience.

Though McCain and Palin want your vote, they plan to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy (for those who make $200,000+ and $1 million + a year) which factor some $70 billion a year. Of course, to extend these tax cuts, they will need to shift the burden even further onto the middle and lower classes. By contrast, Obama’s plan will rollback these tax cuts for the wealthy and instead offer some tax breaks to the middle classes and tax relief to our poorest elderly citizens.

According to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group, that has extensively analyzed the tax policies of both candidates: “The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers. By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase — a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.”

McCain and Palin are also seeking to privatize and deregulate health care, allowing even more employers to opt out of offering their workers insurance. (They will also continue the war indefinitely, which will continue to be funded by increases on taxes to the middle-class). This will do nothing more than exacerbate people’s already-significant financial hardships.

Is anyone else out there having problems paying their health bills? Their rent? Sending their children to school? If you are, please look at the policies of the McCain-Palin ticket before making that vote.

Laura Kiesel