Yesterday John McCain shocked many by selecting Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. Palin, a 44 year old mother of five, has been the governor of Alaska for nearly two years, and prior to that, her other experiences in electoral politics were when she served as mayor of Wasilla and on its city council. Wasilla is a town of about 6,500 people.
When you think about the Latino vote, most probably don’t even consider Alaska, but about 5.6% of the state’s 670,000 people are of Hispanic origin. I thought it would be interesting to see where she stands on many of the issues facing Latino voters. So when I visited OntheIssues.com, the non-partisan site for positions on political leaders, I couldn’t find much for Governor Palin. For instance, she doesn’t have a recorded opinion on foreign policy, free trade, or immigration.
We do know that Sarah Palin is socially conservative. She is pro-life, and it is reported that she doesn’t even believe that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. That’s a pretty extreme view, considering the trauma that some women would feel having to carry a fetus to term that was conceived resulting from an act of violence. That kind of extreme pro-life view would be hard to reconcile with victim’s rights, but if you are against any and all abortions, then this might very well be ok with you. Maybe the more socially conservative Latinos will find this appealing, along with the fact that she has five children, but I tend to think that the raza are going to vote in their economic interests this time around.
Sarah Palin also worships at the Juneau Christian Center, which is affiliated with the Pentacostal Assemblies of God. A year ago, I wrote a blog post about how more Latinos were joining Pentacostal churches, so maybe Palin’s religion would appeal to yet again the more socially conservative and religious members of our community. Being Catholic seemed to increase JFK’s favor with the Hispanic community in 1960, but I would like to think that our electorate has evolved to see beyond religion so much. We are electing public servants, not pastors, preachers, or popes.
Sarah Palin is a big supporter of gun owner’s rights. She is a lifetime member of the NRA and supports D.C.’s ban on handguns. The Latino community experiences high incidences of gun violence. According to the Centers for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via the Brady Center, we lost an average of 8 lives of Latino origin every day in 2004. During that same year, homicide was the leading cause of fire-arm related deaths for Latinos. The gun control question would be a good one to ask Sarah Palin on behalf of our community, as many of us live in urban areas instead of the vast wilderness that she comes from.
On the issue of the Iraq war, which has emerged as one of the top issues for Latinos, Palin can’t seem to articulate what she thinks other than to “respect McCain’s position on that.” However, her oldest son is about to be deployed to Iraq so I’m sure that she’ll be developing a more coherent position real soon.
I’m not too impressed with Governor Palin, as others have pointed out that if McCain wanted to pick a Republican woman who had more visibility that he would have picked Olympia Snowe, Christine Todd Whitman, or Kay Bailey Hutchison. However, I will say that Hillary Clinton supporters who were in the race for the issues will likely not be too pleased with Palin as she is on the opposite end of the political spectrum on many issues that Hillary advocated for. I certainly can’t wait to see Palin and Biden face off in the VP debates.