Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thank You, Sarah Palin

I have conflicting feelings about Sarah Palin. As an environmentalist, I am alarmed at her desire to open the ANWR for drilling (and the rest of the Alaskan wilderness to drilling, logging, mining, commercial fishing and whatever other ways exist to turn tundra and forest into dollars), at her dismissal of efforts to protect the salmon, beluga whale and polar bear, and at her endorsement (and practice) of shooting wolves while sitting in an airplane. As a feminist, I am discouraged by her opposition to keeping legal abortion the law of the land, and dismayed by her endorsement of one-word sex education (The word? "Don't."). As a bisexual woman and general LGBTQ ally, I am saddened that she does not consider everyone's committed relationships worthy of civic recognition. Finally, as the proud holder of a science degree, I do not want anyone sympathetic to creationist crankery allowed within fifty feet of the White House (or the House, or the Senate, or any state legislatures, governor's mansions, local school boards ...).

In fact, if it weren't for this:

Children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons & daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend & advocate in the White House.

... I would have no trouble recognizing her as anathema to everything I consider important.

Even with this avowed support for families with disabled children (which I believe, due to her personal connection to the issue and her past endorsement of the ADA as "one of the most compassionate and successful civil-rights laws in American history," is sincere), I do not think a McCain/Palin administration would necessarily bring about a kinder, gentler America for disabled people, for all the reasons ABFH lists. Indeed, McCain/Palin's commitment to cutting domestic spending and sticking with a market-based health-care system seem to indicate that lower- and middle-income families with disabled members couldn't count on much help from their administration, should they be elected.

However, there is one invaluable service Sarah Palin has done for disabled Americans, and will continue to do throughout her hypothetical Vice Presidency, and as long as she remains in the public eye. She has used her bully pulpit to speak lovingly and optimistically of her son, Trig; to call him a blessing rather than a burden, and to acknowledge his "special challenges" without bemoaning the normal baby she might have had, or making lists of things Trig will never be able to do, or calling for the eradication of Down syndrome in general.

Autism advocacy groups could learn a lot from her.

No comments: