Sarah Palin is the most extremist major party candidate since Barry Goldwater, aligned with the most far right wing elements in American politics on issues ranging from denying that human activity has helped bring about global warming, to seeking to block protection of endangered species, to advocating the teaching of creationism in the public schools, to opposing abortion even in the case of rape and incest, to preventing teenagers from learning about contraception in school, to advocating drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, to flirting with Alaska voting to secede from the Union, to proclaiming our troops in Iraq are on a mission from God.
Moderates, centrists and independents need to be made aware of these positions and consider whether they want to elect someone with such extremist views to the second highest political office in the land, a heartbeat away from the Presidency of a 72 year old cancer survivor.
Moreover, they should questions John McCain's judgment and claims to be a moderate and a maverick within the Republican Party when he caved in to pressure from the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party to choose someone with the thin resume and extremist views of Sarah Palin to stand second in line to the Presidency.
Palin's nomination marks a decision by McCain to try to turn the election from one about the economy to a replay of past elections about cultural issues and about which candidate represents real Americans. If Republicans can make the election about cultural imagery and who is more of a "real American"--focusing voters minds on the war hero and the hockey mom--they may well win. But when it comes to the specific issues of the culture wars, the religious right represents a minority of voters and their positions scare many moderates and independents. Democrats need to focus on Palin's extremism on the issues and McCain's endorsement of such extremism by choosing Palin to stand a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
Here are some examples of of Palin's extremist ideology which the McCain campaign wants to hide and Democrats must expose:
* Palin does not believe in science.
** Palin does not believe that global warming is caused by human activity. In an interview for the September issue of the conservative magazine Newsmax, Palin said"A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."
** Gov. Palin recently sued Bush's own Interior Secretary for determining, based on the scientific evidence, that the polar bear is an endangered species. Documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Alaska's state biologist agrees with the science of Bush's Interior Department, not Palin. "She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading," according to Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming. The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by deny this."
** Palin believes that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the state's public schools. "Teach both," she said in a forum while running for Governor. Palin's statement closely mirrors the language of "Teach the Controversy", the slogan of the intelligent design campaign, under which evolution's "unresolved issues" and the "scientific weakness of evolutionary theory" would be presented alongside intelligent design concepts in public schools. This despite the fact that in 2005, the Federal District Court ruled in Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, that teaching intelligent design in public school sciences course violates the establishment clause in the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.
* Palin is part of the most extreme wing of the anti-abortion and abstinence only movement. This should particularly worry moderate suburban women.
** In response to a questionnaire from the far-right Eagle Forum, Palin responded that she opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest. While a Gubernatorial candidate, Palin stated that if her then 14-year old daughter were raped, she would not permit her to have an abortion. This places Palin on the far right of the anti-abortion movement. Even many pro-life supporters agree that abortion should be permitted in these extreme circumstances, Sarah Palin disagrees. In fact, when a majority of the legislature in the heavily pro-life state of South Dakota recently put an abortion ban on the ballot which would band abortion even in cases of rape or incest, many pro-lifers opposed the ban and it was defeated by the voters.
** In answer to another Eagle Forum question, Palin stated that she supports schools funding "abstinence-until-marriage" education and opposes schools funding sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools.
** There are serious questions whether Palin even believes in birth control. While in general, a candidate's personal family decisions should be outside the realm of political discussion, the pregnancy of Palin's 17-year old daughter raises questions about Palin's beliefs on birth control. Palin is a member of the deceptively named "Feminists for Life" who would criminalize not only abortion but the IUD and hormonal birth control methods (e.g. the pill). Although Palin's decision to keep and raise a baby with Down's syndrome may be admirable, the same questions are raised by Palin herself, already the mother of 4 other children, becoming pregnant at age 44. Palin is lucky that her failure to educate her daughter about contraception only led to an out of wedlock pregnancy. It could have led her to contract a sexually transmitted disease.
** Palin's answer to the Eagle Forum questionnaire also reflected other extremist views. She supports the right of parents to block their public school children from reading books or participating in curricula and classes which disagree with their religious beliefs. (This is consistent with Palin's firing of the Wasilla town librarian for refusing to remove books to which Palin objected from library shelves.) Palin is against expanding hate crime laws. She opposes the decision of the Alaska Supreme Court according spousal benefits to same-sex couple who are state employees.
* Far from putting "Country First", Palin has been closely associated with the far-right wing whack job Alaska Independence Party which questions the legality of the vote for Alaska to join the union and wants to hold a referendum for Alaska to secede. Just 6 months ago, Palin gave a speech to the AIP conventions calling on them to "keep up the good work" and wished the party luck on what she called its "inspiring convention." Palin's husband was an AIP member for 7 years until 2002 and she and her husband both attended AIP's 2000 Convention. AIP founder Joe Vogler said "I'm an Alaskan, not an American...I've got no use for America". There is evidence that Vogler was connected to domestic terrorism--He died in a plastic-explosives sale gone bad.
* Palin seems to believe that she knows God's will and that he is on the side of Republican political positions. She has said that the US sending troops to fight in Iraq is a "task that is from God". She called the building of a $30 million natural gas pipeline in Alaska "God's will." One can debate the pros and cons of these political positions, but claiming unique knowledge of God's will in human affairs is scary and contrasts sharply with the views of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who proclaimed, "Don't pray that God's on our side, pray that we're on his side."
* Palin has close political and religious ties to theocratic groups which do not believe in the First Amendment's separation of church and state and want America ruled by biblical law rather than the Constitution. Many of these groups are associated with Dominionism, an extreme religious ideology which, according to journalist Frederick Clarkson shares the following beliefs:
"1. Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation...2. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity. 3. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that...'biblical law' should be the foundation of American law."
** This Dominionist ideology is consistent with Palin's statement that she was the first "Christian Mayor of Wasilla", which was objected to by the prior Mayor of Wasilla who was also a Christian, must not one of Palin's denomination.
** Right before McCain selected Palin, she was vetted for McCain at a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, whose members include such leading Dominionists as Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Tim LeHaye, author of the apocalyptic "Left Behind" books which predict the coming rapture in which true Christians will be instantly transported from earth to heaven and while the rest of humanity will be left to face plagues and pestilence on earth. After this vetting, Dobson, who once said he would "never" vote for McCain, issued a statement hailing Palin as an "outstanding" choice. It is reported that McCain caved in to the Council for National Policy in choosing Palin, after they unequivocally rejected his more moderate first choices of pro-choice candidates Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman.
** Palin's home church, the Juneau Christian Center, and its pastor Mike Rose advocates Dominionsim and is closely connected to the Dominionist movement. Rose is an advisor to Rodney Howard-Browne's Revival Ministries, one of the leading Dominionist organizations. Palin's church is also connected with the "Joel's Army" movement which uses stealth methods to recruit teens to the cause. One cannot definitely connect Palin to these extreme politico-religious views, but she certainly has her own "Pastor problem".
These views place Palin on the extreme right-wing of the American political spectrum and should raise serious concerns among moderate, centrist and independent voters. The McCain campaign will try to bury these views behind a rosy picture of an all-American hockey mom and mother of five with a Downs Syndrome baby. Despite Republican attacks on media coverage of Palin, the media seems to be focusing on the personal aspects of Palin's story and not the issues.
Democrats need to inform swing voters, in particular, of Palin's extremist views and McCain's caving in to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party in choosing her. If they are fully informed, centrist, moderate and independent voters are likely to think twice about voting to put Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency.