A Challenge for Candidate Palin

The GOP pick for VP was a brilliant political strategy. It accomplished two important goals. It increased donations to the Republican Party and it also has kept the spotlight off important issues. In addition, if E-mail traffic is any indication, it has unnerved the Democrats.

By now everyone has to admit that the US voter is about as informed on issues as a fruit fly is. Can anyone pretend that the average voter casts his ballot based on the economy, justice, or matters of war and peace? The two words that are the biggest threat to the sale of Ambien are “foreign policy”. Just mentioning those two words will clear a room faster than a skunk at a picnic. Think of how many democrats still believe that their Party is the anti-war Party.

The average US voter is so uninformed that he does not even vote in his own interest. How else can it be explained that 18,000 of our fellow citizens will continue to die every year because of the lack of access to health care. That is like having a 9/11 every 60 days, but worse. We are doing it to ourselves – and it is so unnecessary.

There is at least one candidate, Nader, who supports health care for all, while lowering the cost by eliminating the insurance companies. Both McCain and Obama support the insurance companies’ profits over health care for the people. A Single Payer system would save lives and also save taxpayer money. Why is there no national discussion about it — because both Parties have sold out to the insurance industry.

Take the hot issue of ‘experience’. Of course experience is important – the kind of experience that no Washington insider gets. How about the experience of having no health care, or having to cut back on groceries, or cutting the thermostat down to 55 in the winter and hoping that pipes don’t freeze. How about the experience of hoping that last year’s shoes will still fit the kids for this school year. How about the experience of not being able to take the family out for pizza, because that, too, is now a luxury that can no longer be afforded. How about the experience of facing foreclosure so some Hedge Fund manager can buy another yacht.

For years, many have wished for other ways of selecting a president. How about a national lottery. That would make it possible for ordinary people — truck drivers, teachers, nurses, farmers, and plumbers to hold the highest office. That won’t happen without changes in the Constitution.
This time around there are some choices for the voters. There is a list of candidates to chose from — Barr, McCain, McKinney, Moore, Nader, Obama and others. The electronic and the print media have all but excluded any candidate who is not a Democrat or Republican.

About Sarah Palin – yes, a brilliant political strategy. She will get the votes of the pro-war, pro-gun crowd. She can fire a weapon while wearing high heels. Biden, can you top that? And maybe most important of all, she will get the votes of all who envy those teeth. In a country where dental care is rapidly becoming a luxury – you have to admire those teeth. Beautiful teeth are becoming the ultimate status symbol. Oprah once said that you could determine persons’ economic class just by looking at their teeth. That just might be the most astute observation that Oprah has ever made.

US politics is all about fluff — personality and celebrity. Image over substance. Voters could change that by demanding that participation in the debates not be limited to Democratic and Republican candidates.

Here is a challenge for Governor Palin. How about refusing to participate in any debate which excludes the other VP candidates. Open the debates up to the top four or five candidates. That simple act would elevate Gov. Palin to the category of Statesperson. It would show that she places a higher value on the welfare of the nation than on Party affiliation. It would show a respect for the voters. The inclusion of VP candidate Matt Gonzalez and others would elevate the national discussion to include important issues such as foreign policy, health care, the economy, corporate welfare, and education.

The same voters, who would never tolerate a massive book burning, allow the media to pre-select the political messages allowed for public discussion. The media presents a virtual book burning every night with its exclusion of ideas that do not conform to the Republican/Democratic model. Shame on the media, more shame on the people who tolerate such censorship.

This election could be like a shining light, but unless voters become informed the bright light will just lead to another four-year dark tunnel.

In the quiet privacy of the voting booth will voters be thinking about the hundreds of thousands killed in our illegal, pre-emptive war, and the 18,000 who die every year because of lack of health care; or, will the voters’ minds wonder to those issues publicized by the media — lapel pins, age, pomp and ceremony — and don’t forget those teeth.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.

18 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Rich Griffin said on September 1st, 2008 at 10:45am #

    Great article!!!

    How do we convince more and more americans to join us in rejecting the Republicans and Democrats? How do we get more independents, greens, progressives into all levels of government? I wish I knew the answers! Until then, I’m content to continue to be part of the 5-8% who vote for progressive alternatives, and vow to never vote for any candidate with a “D” after their name ever again (I’ve never voted for an “R”!)

    My best friend went to high school with Sarah Heath (a.k.a. Sarah Palin). She was part of the “in crowd” then and remains so to this day. She will become vice-president beginning January 20th of next year. It’s only going to take 3-4% persuadables to make this a sure thing. The fact that we have a statistical dead heat AFTER the democratic convention! It always amazes me that Democrats believe they can continue to the same thing every single time and somehow get different results!! Insane!!

  2. bozhidar balkas said on September 1st, 2008 at 11:05am #

    i suggest we expect much less change; else we’ll be disapponted.
    that nader is running, is to me an astouding change for the better.
    it’s a tiny step. and now that we have a nascent second party in US, let’s stop all talk about religion/politics.
    we can talk about health care and the need to prevent future warfare, i hope.
    constitution is a dead piece of paper; meaningful-meaningless and forever such.
    constitution i assert doesn’t mean; people mean. and people who control WH, cia, senate, congress, army, money mean.
    and the meanings are not in words; especially not in verbal ‘brilliancies’ that most amers are in awe of.
    thank u

  3. rosemarie jackowski said on September 1st, 2008 at 11:31am #

    Rich…Thanks for the comments. ABC is reporting that the Repubs received 10 million in donations in less than 3 days because of Palin. One of the reasons behind this article is the fact that so many dems are very upset about Palin. The E-mails are flooding the e-space.

    bozhidar… Thanks. I agree.

  4. Michael Dawson said on September 1st, 2008 at 11:50am #

    Another scary endorsement by Rosemarie of blaming the little people for the crimes of the rich and powerful. This is terrorist-style thinking.

    Rosemarie, does your local community college offer any sociology courses? Try one. There are these things called institutions and power.

  5. rosemarie jackowski said on September 1st, 2008 at 12:28pm #

    Michael…Thanks for the comment. I will take your ad hominem comment under consideration. You might be interested to know that the last time I was in a college, I was an invited guest speaker in a class on Anarchy.

    Your view that ‘the little people’ need to be excused is disrespectful of them. Everyone is accountable for their own actions. I agree that the powerful have a big advantage and a higher responsibility, if for example they control the media. The point that I tried to make was that there is an individual responsibility for each voter.

  6. Deadbeat said on September 1st, 2008 at 2:36pm #

    Ms. Jackowski says…

    [Michael Dawson’s] view that ‘the little people’ need to be excused is disrespectful of them. … The point that I tried to make was that there is an individual responsibility for each voter.

    I actually agree with Mr. Dawson remarks and I don’t see his comments as an necessarily as an ad hominem attack. Mr Dawson remarks exposes what’s missing from Ms. Jackowski’s analysis and exemplifies a real problem with reactionary commentary coming from the “Left”.

    Ms. Jackowski’s analysis is missing is WHY people are voting against their interest. Another interesting question is WHY has the Left failed to attract these people. Another interesting question is WHY the Left failed to coalesce around Nader in 2004 which would have put him in a stronger position to reach the people that Ms. Jackowski implies are “irresponsible”. Another interesting question is why the Left has failed to confront Zionism. Confronting such a huge issue may make better candidates of both Nader and Obama. Another interesting question to add is why the Left is so fractionalized and disorganized and not committed to outreach. Another interesting question is WHY the left allowed the anti-war movement to become marginalized.

    The point is that the side that Ms. Jackowski represent goes without analysis and it is very easy to BLAME the “individual” rather than to turn the lens to your own side and provide critical analysis.

    Interestingly Ralph Nader himself is not shy to provide critical analysis of the Left. Here’s Ralph when asked why he didn’t run as a Green…

    Because [The Green Party is] just too disorganized. They can’t—they can’t put it together. They bicker a lot, and they drive out a lot of good Greens who want to focus on agendas. I wish them well. I wish Cynthia McKinney well.

    Clearly working class conscientiousness is weak to almost non-existent and there is a long way to go before the working class acts like a class. However to engage in “blame the voter” rhetoric when the Left needs to get its own house in order make such “blame-the-victim” rhetoric seem pious and arrogant.

    The place to start is cleaning up one’s own house and that means taking a hard look at what is wrong with the Left and debating how the Left should repair itself so that it can proceed forward. And IMO that job is so immense that it won’t happen in time for the 2008 election.

    Clearly, the Left lacks any kind of institutional organization and structures that it had during the 1930’s. The abandonment and sabotage of Nader by the Left in 2004 means that now Nader himself lacks any real institutional framework that will remain cohesive after the 2008 election. Right now the Greens as Nader himself remarked is too disorganized and they have not addressed their internal structual problems that allowed it to be infiltrated by left-wing phonies like Medea Benjamin and David Cobb.

    Until the Left constructs strong institutions or can coalesce disparate groups then people will continue to vote pragmatically for the “lesser evil”. Therefore such “blame the victim” rhetoric is counterproductive and becomes rhetoric that essentially obscure the real problems.

  7. Hue Longer said on September 1st, 2008 at 5:02pm #

    where’s the mescaline?

  8. Jerry D. Rose said on September 1st, 2008 at 6:33pm #

    The plot has of course thickened since this article and the comments in this thread were entered: the whole soap opera-ish “whose baby is this” issue raised (by a Daily Kos blogger among others) about Palin’s 5 month old down’s syndrome baby, the “evidence” that Palin was never pregnant with the baby and that it was in fact the baby of her teenage daughter. When you tune in tomorrow to As the Campaign Turns (an hour or two later in fact), you get the Palins releasing the information that this daughter is pregnant at a stage precluding her having given birth 5 months ago.

    This episode seems to second Jackowski’s observation that the Palin choice has made Democrats very nervous and seemingly willing to unsheath their long knives (the Daily Kos blog was reprinted in Alter Net, a remarkably consistent Obama-supporting website). Of course Obama condemned the use of such smear tactics. Years ago I wrote an article called “The Division of Moral Labor” indicating the many situations in which higher-ups keep their hands “clean” by having underlings to do their dirty work; and this is precisely the “work” to be done in a campaign in which the electorate is so uninformed and apolitical that it actually gives a damn about whether, for example, that Palin baby is Sarah’s son or grandson.

  9. rust said on September 1st, 2008 at 6:54pm #

    “— because both Parties have sold out to the insurance industry.”

    Sold out is right!

  10. Rich Griffin said on September 1st, 2008 at 11:09pm #

    I’m registered green because I agree with the policy positions of the party. However, I am less and less enamored with the party as a result of their disorganization, their inability to really help those of us on the ground willing to do the necessary volunteer work, and their constant bickering. I don’t blame Nader one bit. But most of the greens troubles really have to do with a lack of money. A large majority of greens are not money-based individuals and don’t have the money to give in our corporate elections. However, with all this said, they are still BETTER than Democrats and deserve our support. If I had two votes I’d vote for both McKinney and Nader. My hope is that between the two of them they get 10% or more of the vote – that’s 1 out of 10 voters!! This would be true leverage, saying to Democrats you must start listening to us and start enacting a progressive agenda! If you don’t support us we won’t support you anymore.

  11. rosemarie jackowski said on September 2nd, 2008 at 12:18pm #

    Deadbeat….The ad hominem comment was in the 2nd paragraph.

    My view is different from yours because I believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions. I don’t trivialize the influence of culture and institutiuons. We can also debate the old philosophical arguement of free will vs determinism, but it is counterproductive to totally exhonerate and separate the individual from his acts.

    The 3 main points of the article are
    1 Uninformed voters should be discouraged from voting
    2 The media is partly responsible for the dumbing-down of the voter
    3 The Party system, which prohibits any but Repub/dems from participating in the debates, is a major issue

  12. louis vitali said on September 2nd, 2008 at 2:58pm #

    i am a green. we should be pouring every penny we have into electing someone or two or three to the senate.

  13. bozhidar balkas said on September 2nd, 2008 at 3:11pm #

    i can’t see how personal responsibility can exist to the fullest or any degree without well developed collective responsibility.
    collectively/individually, US is killing children. now for me to exercise my responsibility in connection to that fact i wld have to at least stand on corner every day holding a placcard condemning this act.
    or even better i shld go on hunger strike till death if necessary.
    but i have a wife. she may object. what do i do now? where goeth my responsibility to my wife if die?
    what if i resort to terrorism? do i fulfil my responsibility by killing people or damaging property?
    we are swimming in one genetic pool. am i responsible for advocating that we also swim in one health care, jurisprudence, education pool?
    wld i not be irresponsible if i did advocate all that and neglected my own life and family by standing daily all dayon street corner and shouting about need for universal rights.
    i say when we have so much collective crime, the criminals wld love to see us fulfill individual duties which may be defined by the criminals selves.
    but, most important, what is or rather what shld one do in trillions of happenings?
    wld it not been determined by all of us? we are dealing with aspects of reality in which everything is connected with everything else; thus one can’t separate one responsibility from the other. thank u

  14. Rich Griffin said on September 2nd, 2008 at 3:18pm #

    We do what we can when we can the best we can. We have conversations, in person, on line, through media (esp. alternative medias). We take care of ourselves so we can do the necessary work. We find it infuriating that all we do is so SLOW and painful, but we do it anyway.

  15. Deadbeat said on September 2nd, 2008 at 6:14pm #

    Ms. Jackowski says…

    Deadbeat….The ad hominem comment was in the 2nd paragraph.

    The comment by Mr. Kenny I agree was harsh, but the intent of his remark was accurate. Your articles are terribly REACTIONARY because they engage squarely in “blame-the-victim” rhetoric rather providing readers with an UNDERSTANDING of the forces that lead people to vote against their interest.

    I can understand your FRUSTRATION with voters. However I fully agree with bozhidar recent remarks as he aptly identifies the problems with your commentary.

    Ironically rosemarie, the side effect of your expressed perspectives does more to obscure the Left’s role in weakening your candidate — Ralph Nader — who I fully supported and voted for in 2004.

    Without obscuring the Left’s role in weakening both Nader and the anti-war movement from 4 years ago you cannot not honestly blame the voters for voting for Obama this year. Your arguments ring hallow because the Left bears RESPONSIBILITY for leaving the voting public with no real choice or challenge to Obama and the Democrats.

  16. Deadbeat said on September 2nd, 2008 at 6:15pm #

    Sorry about that. I meant to write “Mr. Dawson”.

  17. rosemarie jackowski said on September 3rd, 2008 at 3:19pm #

    The complete exoneration and separation of the individual from his acts could lead to total chaos and make the planet even less livable than it already is.

    It is not blaming the victim – in a sence- we are all victims.

    I am simply holding people responsible for their deeds. “‘The dog ate my homework”‘ does not apply when there are millions of dead bodies. Anybody here remember Nuremberg?

  18. Deadbeat said on September 3rd, 2008 at 3:27pm #

    Numemberg could also be seen as “Victor’s Justice”. I think you are terribly confusing accountability with responsibility and reactionary “blame the victim” rhetoric.

    As Public Enemy asks…

    “Who’s the criminal?”