Saturday, September 6, 2008

A servant's heart

Dear Sarah,

In your speech on Wednesday, you said:

But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart. I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States.

And yet you went out of your way to undermine Obama's roots as a community organizer. Is it with good will and a servant's heart that you mocked him, and community service as a whole?

Your fellow Republican Rudy Giuliani sneered, "I don't even know what that is." Perhaps you, too, need a refresher on what community service is.

Community service is an activity performed for the benefit of one's community or society at large. It could be something as simple as painting a school or, as in Obama's case in Chicago, helping a community face issues like unemployment after a steel-mill closure and pressing the city to address the clean up of an asbestos-filled residence. It is something done for the greater good, something one undertakes because they wish to give back to their community, their country, or the world at large.

Community service can be difficult, and sometimes, thankless work. Organizing citizens around a cause or a goal is not easy. It takes a person who can not only "organize" (as if organization is such a dirty, dirty word), but inspire and bring people together. According to Loretta Augustine-Herron, a member of the church-based Developing Communities Project board that hired him, Obama insisted..."You've got to do it right. Be open with the issues. Include the community instead of going behind the community's back--and he would include people we didn't like sometimes. You've got to bring people together. If you exclude people, you're only weakening yourself. If you meet behind doors and make decisions for them, they'll never take ownership of the issue." (Source: The Nation)

Sarah, you said "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." As noted in my previous post one of your fellow Wasillans had this to say about your "actual responsibilities":

"During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign."

I'll take the community organizer over the manipulative small-town mayor any day, the guy who knows how to get citizens to get up and do something about changes they want to see made, the guy who inspires action versus apathy. It's time for the rest of us to stand up to you and yours.

I look forward to November when *this* community comes together and organizes your ass all the way back to Alaska.


Michelle O said...

First off, Sarah Palin was mocking his experience as a community organizer in response to his mocking her experience as a mayor and completely ignoring her experience as a govenor. So this is just juvenile. We should be looking at the issues. And even if we disagree on the issues, we should be celebrating the possibility that woman has the opportunity to get into the white house instead of comparing her to Hillary. She is no Hillary it's true, but Sarah Palin's supporters are glad about that. Believe it or not there are many women who are not pro-choice and still consider themselves feminists. She represents them. And that is something to celebrate. All women deserve a voice, not just pro-choice women. :)

girl friday said...

Hi Michelle -

Thanks for your comment!

As I could find...the initial response of the Obama camp to Sarah's nomination was:

"John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies - that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same."

Maybe it's semantics, but the tone of that, to me, is not mocking, but challenging. It lacks the "sneer" that Palin's, Giuliani's and some other folks delivery of "community organizing" has been laced with. For me, that belittling and condescension is a huge turn-off.

All women with our many opinions and sentiments absolutely deserve a voice. And my distaste for Palin and the questionable motives of her nomination by the GOP aside, there is no doubt that a woman is on a GOP ticket is a momentous occasion.

But, it doesn't mean I have to follow her in the name of progress.

Whether you like Hillary or not, Palin's nomination is a huge indication of what HIL did for women and the feminist movement. Without her campaign, it's likely Palin wouldn't have been nominated at all.


Demps said...

@ Michelle O:

She most certainly was mocking the fact that Obama's resume contains the phrase "community organizer." If you haven't been paying attention, guys like Hannity on Fox News have been referring to Obama as "the community organizer" for weeks (if not months) as a way to belittle his campaign and shrug off his accomplishments. If you don't see Palin's condescending attitude towards community organization as a whole as a wink and a nod to the folks who are looking to undercut Obama the candidate then you're practicing intellectual dishonesty.

Granted, Obama made it easy for the McCain campaign and Palin herself to back away from these charges by comparing his executive experience running for President to her small town service - a definitely mis-step, in my eyes, but then again, it's pretty much the only thing he was allowed to say considering so much of Palin is apparently "off limits."

I agree with you - this should be first and foremost about the issues, which is why Palin's selection as the VP candidate for the GOP is so fascinating, as it casts a focus on ANYTHING BUT the issues. I should think that this is a fairly transparent ploy. The McCain campaign - wrong on many of the most pressing issues according to poll after poll of Americans, is attempting to get their ticket elected on issues of identity, rather than the economy, the war, schools and social progress.

As to pro-life women being granted their voice - tell me where or when it has been silenced. Every woman has a choice. If it were up to Sarah Palin and John McCain (2008 McCain that is, not 2000 McCain...hmmm) that choice would evaporate. Tell me, who exactly is trying to take a woman's voice away?