I can’t help but be, oh, a little bit skeptical of Republicans’ sudden interest in the glass ceiling. After all, this is the party that threw women like Lilly Ledbetter under the bus, in favor of businesses that practice wage discrimination. The party that stymied the Equal Rights Amendment. The party that not only wants to force women here and abroad to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, but also wants to deny them access to a range of contraception options.
It’s clear that Republicans believe that what made Hillary Clinton such a good candidate was her gender, not her political experience or positions on the issues. And McCain’s decision to pick Palin shows he took this message to heart and chose to add her to the ticket primarily because of her gender. In so doing, McCain has turned the idea of the first woman in the White House from a true moment of change to an empty pander.
Why is this a pander? Because Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women’s interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she’s a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she’s not on the record.
Of course, I’m of the belief that more women in politics — across the ideological spectrum — is always a good thing. On a superficial level, nominating a woman to the Republican presidential ticket is indeed a milestone. But the real reason many women were excited about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is that she was the whole package — a politician with a solid record on issues like choice and fair pay, and with a lot of experience, who was also a woman. Even feminists I disagreed with during the primary made the compelling point that it wasn’t just about Hillary’s gender. It was about her record, too.
– Ann Friedman, McCain’s Sexist VP Choice