After receiving various emails from friends asking me to weigh in on whether I feel Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President of the United States, I took a quick peek at Wikipedia to see what the actual qualifications are. They are:
1. You must be a natural born US citizen.
2. You must be at least 35 years old.
3. You must have resided in the U.S. for the past 14 years.
There are no other legal barriers or guidelines.
These 3 criteria are not exactly open to debate; either Sarah Palin meets them or she doesn't. If she does, then legally she is qualified to run for the Presidency or Vice Presidency. If we are unhappy with these criteria, then perhaps we should change them; however, I don't know if we want to do that. Having these very loose guidelines allows inexperienced people to run but it also allows for a fresh point of view. If we institute too many requirements, we effectively limit our choices to career politicians.
The question of whether Palin is qualified to be VP is not really a question about her qualifications. It is a question about her beliefs. I don't agree with her beliefs, so I'm not going to vote for her. It's that simple. I refuse to participate in Palin bashing because she has openly stated what she stands for. It is the voters who are responsible for knowing what they stand for and voting in accordance with their beliefs, not simply choosing a candidate based on that candidate's personality or his or her portrayal in the media.
We are a nation where name recognition, financial backing and the ability to woo the media are much more important to winning an election than experience, knowledge or wisdom. We are a nation where movie stars, pop singers and wrestlers can and are elected to public office, why then is Sarah Palin being singled out as unqualified? Is it because she is a mother, because she is a fundamentalist, or simply because she is a woman who will make history if elected? Perhaps it's a little of all these things.
I would suggest that we move beyond discussing Sarah Palin's qualifications and focus on the candidates' voting records and what they stand for. We don't need to pull another woman down to feel superior. It isn't necessary and it distracts from the real issues. I applaud Sarah Palin's desire to break through the glass ceiling but I will not vote for her because I disagree with her, not because she is less qualified.
For the first time in my life, I intend to vote for the Green Party candidate. Her name is Cynthia McKinney. I've decided to vote for the candidate I like best regardless of her viability because this election year, I've learned that the Democratic party is too big to be responsive to me. I want to take steps towards correcting this situation by helping the Green Party take at least 5% of the vote and help legitimize it's goals. I think diversity in people as well as in political parties is a good thing. Perhaps some of you will feel like I am helping the Republicans win by voting Green. I have used the same argument in the past to convince others to join me in preventing the Republican party from winning but all that did was make the Democrats complacent. Once assured of my vote, they promptly sought to win the votes of centrists by pleasing them instead of me. My relationship with the Democratic party is over. I don't want to be in a relationship where I do all the vote giving and I get taken for granted in return. I understand why people feel that we have to choose between the two major parties; I believed that myself for many years but if we never change the way we vote, we'll keep getting the same results. This time I'm voting for long term change because that is change I can believe in.