Has anyone just stopped for a second to reflect on the fact that Sarah didn't just diss Barack Obama, Rosa Parks and the thousands of other community organizers when she derided the Democratic presidential nominee's experience?
Hello! How about the founding fathers. I watched those guys portrayed in the recent and excellent HBO series, John Adams. It sure looked to me like the American Revolution began with a whole lot of grassroots community organizing done by dedicated private individuals focused on trying to build a better political system to benefit their fellow members of the Thirteen Colonies.
It's amazing what a group of highly motivated community organizers did over 230 years ago. So what's so bad about a presidential nominee today starting his activist career this way? And hey Sarah, isn't the PTA one of the most effective community organizations in the country? Isn't that where you got your start?
And now to touch on a theme that has been a biggie in this election — it certainly appears that the Founding Fathers didn't have a whole lot of "experience" in running a country before they took on the task of launching and then governing the newly-born America. This should give comfort to both Governor Palin and Senator Obama, each of whom has come under some pretty heavy fire for their lack of longterm "executive" experience.
Then there's the battle over which candidate is more "typical" or "relatable." Sarah Palin wants us electorate to feel chummy with her because she's a small-town hockey mom. She mentioned the term "small town" four times in her vice-presidential acceptance speech the other night.The only problem is that she doesn't seemed to notice but most Americans today do not live in small towns anymore. We live in cities, there are no corn fields in our back yards and that trend shows no signs of reversing.
The McPalins: illustration by Bodo
Republican operatives have made much of the fact that Barack Obama is supposedly an "elitist" and hence not "typical" because he graduated from Harvard Law School. What they forget to point out is that John McCain attended an exclusive private all-boys boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia called Episcopal High School and then was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, virtually every bit as hard to get into as Harvard Law. And you know what, good for John. Good for Obama too. A lot of people in this country want their children to be lucky enough to attend the very best schools and to get the best possible education. They want their kids to be smart and to make contributions to the worlds of business, medicine, science and technology. If their children aren't typical but instead innovate they might get rich and as well make life better and healthier for others.
Oh and speaking of science Sarah and John , apparently Sarah's a creationist, but how's that going to help America's ability to compete globally in the fields of science and technology if America's students aren't taught about evolution. Isn't evolution a backbone of biology?
Now getting back to the Founding Fathers — they weren't exactly a typical bunch for their time either. Most early American colonists were rural farmers who would have been considered low wage earners and were lucky if they could read and write. The Declaration of Independence crowd, on the other hand, were affluent, mostly cosmopolitan since they lived in Boston, Philadelphia and New York, and they were highly educated.
John Adams went to Harvard. Thomas Jefferson to the College of William and Mary, John Hancock was a Harvard man and even Edward Rutledge attended Oxford. Now, I grant you that probably none of them ate arugula but the fact that they may have eaten more exotically that the average farmer didn't get in the way of them envisioning and fighting for a better life than their fellow Americans. And Sarah, I bet that most American have never eaten a caribou-burger, let alone hunted for one, but we won't hold that against you.
Here's my point, the people who have moved Americans into better lives have come from diverse and sometimes elite backgrounds and have also had diverse "issues." Sarah Palin's got a pregnant 17 year-old daughter, well Franklin D Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy had multiple mistresses. Bill Clinton never knew his dad. LBJ was apparently also a favorite of the "ladies" and then we won't even go into Thomas Jefferson's complicated love life and second "secret" family. Abe Lincoln grew up dirt poor, the Roosevelts were rich. Relatability has sometimes helped make a president great, and sometimes not. A lot of people still think George W. Bush is relatable.
So Sarah and John — can we call you the McPalins? — before you diss the Founding Fathers some more, why don't you focus your considerable talents and energies on the specifics , not generalities, of what you two are going to do to make the lives of today's Americans better and more full of opportunity, just like those original community organizers did.